The best books on distillation

2 authors have picked their favorite books about distillation and why they recommend each book.

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Into The Woods

By John Yorke,

Book cover of Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them

Like a lot of screenwriters, I’ve got Syd Field’s Screenplay and Robert McKee’s Story on my bookshelf. One day, I might even read them. But they’ll need to be very good indeed to beat John Yorke’s Into the Woods, which I’ve already read twice. More than just another “How to” book on screenwriting, it’s an accessible and insightful study of storytelling through the ages, by a leading TV producer and script editor, and an elegant distillation of how all stories, from the fireside to the multiplex, begin with and finally boil down to: “Once upon a time, in such and such a place, something happened.”

Who am I?

I am the author of four books of interviews with filmmakers: Smoking in Bed: Conversations with Bruce Robinson (a Guardian Book of the Year), Story and Character: Interviews with British Screenwriters, Hampton on Hampton (an Observer Book of the Year), and The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft. I have written original and adapted screenplays and stageplays, on spec and to commission; contributed film interviews and reviews to UK magazines and newspapers; chaired Q&A events at book and screenwriting festivals; and recently published my first novel, The Vetting Officer. My next nonfiction project is a book of conversations with bestselling author and screenwriter William Boyd, for Penguin.

I wrote...

The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft

By Alistair Owen,

Book cover of The Art of Screen Adaptation: Top Writers Reveal Their Craft

What is my book about?

Producers and audiences are hungrier than ever for stories, and a lot of those stories begin life as a book – but how exactly do you transfer a story from the page to the screen? Do adaptations use the same creative gears as original screenplays? Does a true story give a project more weight than a fictional one? Is it helpful to have the original author’s input on the script? And how much pressure is the screenwriter under, knowing they won’t be able to please everyone with the finished product?

The Art of Screen Adaptation reveals the challenges and pleasures of reimagining stories for cinema and television, and provides a frank and fascinating masterclass with the writers who have done it – and have the awards and acclaim to show for it.

Single Malt Murder

By Melinda Mullet,

Book cover of Single Malt Murder

This is the first in the Whisky Business Mystery series. I loved this series and was sad to see it end. I swear I know at least two of the characters personally. There is enough romance to make this romance reader happy but there was also a great murder mystery sprinkled—or should I say—splattered with humor. I loved it.

Who am I?

I love everything Scottish. My grandfather was Scottish. I never met him, but mom passed the pride of her heritage and culture to me. Mom used to throw out an occasional phrase or poem that I thought was Gaelic. (I later learned it was Scotts but that’s another story.) I decided I wanted to learn the language and found a short course at a small college on the Isle of Skye and it changed my life. After that short course I committed to learning the language and enrolled in the distance learning program. I travel to Skye for the short courses between my semesters and have made lifelong friends.  


I wrote...

Hickville Crossroads: A Hickville High Novel

By Mary Karlik,

Book cover of Hickville Crossroads: A Hickville High Novel

What is my book about?

Frasier Anderson is one of the hottest teenage actors in the UK, but he’s virtually unknown in the US. Now he’s landed the leading role in a big-budget Hollywood film that could make him an international star. So how do you prepare a Scot for a role as a Texas high school student? Embed him in a Texas high school. He only has to follow three rules: No drama. No girls. And no telling who he really is.

Jenna Wiley is smart, funny, and has a few no-drama, no-dating rules of her own. Things come to a boil when Frasier’s biggest secrets hit the tabloids. Can Frasier convince Jenna that shy, goofy Ethan Smith is closer to reality than the image the tabloids have created?

A Proposal They Can't Refuse

By Natalie Caña,

Book cover of A Proposal They Can't Refuse

New to the scene, I have no idea where Natalie has been my whole life. This is another rom-com that left strangers wondering if I was deranged, I was laughing so hard. 

Puerto Rican firecracker heroine Kamilah Vega just wants to save the family restaurant. 

Broody, artsy perfection, Scottish-American Liam Kane wants his grandpa to get the treatment he’s refusing and to take the family whiskey distillery in a new direction. 

When the two hilarious grandfathers, who own the building, blackmail Kamila and Liam to get married or they’ll sell the building housing the restaurant and distillery, the couple agrees to a fake relationship. 

Fake dating is my all-time favorite trope because it lends itself to hilarity and all the sexual tension. 


Who am I?

I write romance with Latinas on top. Strong, confident, and successful women (or women on their path to success) who are also sex-positive and know what they want are featured in all my work. I’m passionate about this type of representation of my community because until recently, it has been incredibly difficult to find. While the stories of our struggles are important stories to tell and read, I want to read more stories of our triumphs. Latina women have among the lowest reading for fun rates of any group, but why would we read for fun when we are not seeing our reflection anywhere on the page? This is why representation is so important.

I wrote...

Remission

By Ofelia Martinez,

Book cover of Remission

What is my book about?

This slow-burn, steamy, age-gap contemporary romance is full of positive Latine(x) representation. They are both physicians and researchers. He’s her mentor and off-limits, and she will not risk her career for the sake of her heart. 

The sexual tension between Dr. Hector Medina and Dr. Carolina Ramirez might melt your e-reader. Remission is a complete standalone novel in the Heartland Metro Hospital series with a guaranteed happily ever after.

The World Atlas of Whisky

By Dave Broom,

Book cover of The World Atlas of Whisky: More Than 200 Distilleries Explored and 750 Expressions Tasted

This big, beautiful, photograph-loaded coffee table book is an encyclopedia of whiskey. The Atlas, as whiskey-heads often call it, carries descriptions of a couple of hundred distilleries and reviews of around 750 different whiskeys. Broom’s book devotes a lot of pages to Scotch whisky, however, it helpfully covers Irish and American whiskeys and the brown spirits made in nations less known to most readers, like Japan, India, and Australia. Drinks geeks will love Broom’s meticulous explanations of how different whiskeys are produced. Those seeking guidance on how to taste whiskey will benefit from the book’s brief tasting tips and its ‘flavor camp lists,” which categorizes whiskeys by their dominant characteristics (“fruity and spicy,” “fragrant and floral,” etc.)


Who am I?

I am the author of two books on distilled spirits and have been blogging at AlcoholReviews.com since 1998. I have written about drinks, drinks history, and drinks politics for the New York Times and the American Spectator magazine. Whiskey is my favorite distilled spirit—there are so many fantastic types and brands of it. For consumers, it can be really bewildering to navigate. So, I take it as my duty to help people navigate the wide and wild world of whiskey!


I wrote...

Whiskey: A Global History

By Kevin R. Kosar,

Book cover of Whiskey: A Global History

What is my book about?

Whiskey: A Global History introduces readers to the various types of whiskey, including bourbon, Canadian whiskey, corn whiskey, rye, Irish whiskey, Scotch, single malts, and blends. The book explains the drink’s often crazy history, from its obscure medieval origins to the globally traded product that it is today.

Whiskey: A Global History also recommends some great brands and classic cocktail recipes for the thirsty reader.

Lonely Planet's Global Distillery Tour 1

By Lonely Planet Food,

Book cover of Lonely Planet's Global Distillery Tour 1

Capturing the excitement of our drinking age, Lonely Planet’s Global Distillery Tour stops in over 30 countries and provides a tantalizing glimpse at what is happening around the world. With photographs of both product and place, the book offers not just information on distilleries but itineraries to start planning those visits. Vast in scope while feeling manageable, the book makes a great introduction to the spirits world -- plus, has readers itching to experience it all for themselves. 


Who am I?

I have been researching and writing about cocktails for over two decades. My first book, The New Cocktail Hour, appeared in 2016 and I have since written seven more books pairing mixed drinks with topics such as classic movies, vinyl music, the DC Comics universe, Westerns, and travel. Cocktails are truly global concoctions, invented by using tea from the Far East, sugar from the Caribbean, liquor from Europe, and citrus from the tropics. The best books about mixed drinks transport us to a worldly state of mind wherever we are. 


I wrote...

Booze Cruise: A Tour of the World's Essential Mixed Drinks

By André Darlington,

Book cover of Booze Cruise: A Tour of the World's Essential Mixed Drinks

What is my book about?

In 2020, I circumnavigated the globe expressly in pursuit of cocktails, following in the footsteps of drinks writer Charles H. Baker Jr. a hundred years ago. Because of the recent spread of the craft cocktail revolution worldwide -- and a global distillery boom -- there has never been a better time to imbibe on Earth. I wanted to experience it all for myself and share my adventures. Booze Cruise includes a romp through over 40 of the greatest cocktail cities on the planet along with drink recipes, local intel, food pairing tips, and more. 

On the Rocks

By Kandi Steiner,

Book cover of On the Rocks

Kandi Steiner has been described as the queen of angst and it is so true! On the Rocks brings the small town tension together with angst that will definitely keep you up at night. I couldn’t put this down as I kept going, page after page, to see how the two main characters were ever going to find a way to be together. I love that she also gives glimpses of side characters that will eventually get their own books. 


Who am I?

I am an author who writes hot-as-sin small-town romance. As an avid romance reader, when I found my love of all small-town things combined with high heat of steamy romance, I was hooked! With steamy, small-town romance you get feel-good, heartfelt romances with steamy, open-door scenes. If it can make you blush and warm your heart, I’m all in! In my list, I’ve included a variety of small-town romance authors that will tug at your heartstrings in one scene and have you fanning yourself in the next. 


I wrote...

The Badge and the Bad Boy

By Lena Hendrix,

Book cover of The Badge and the Bad Boy

What is my book about?

The Badge and the Bad Boy is a steamy, small-town romance that centers on a former Mafia Enforcer. After leaving the life, he is sequestered to a remote ranch in Montana as he tries to rebuild his life in Witness Protection. When a female cop from his past shows up on the ranch, his carefully crafted life is upturned. They are drawn to each other but their relationship threatens their safety and the new life Evan is trying to build. It’s got high heat, but all of the sweet, tender moments that a feel-good romance brings. It’s the first in a series of interconnected stand-alones and each can be enjoyed on their own! 

Proof

By Adam Rogers,

Book cover of Proof: The Science of Booze

Any distiller, even a moonshiner, has to be a respectably good intuitive chemist; and as Adam Rogers shows in this very readable book, distilling is just the tip of the iceberg of the science that goes into producing the spirits we drink. There is science in the selection of ingredients for distilling – which include the yeasts that ferment the sugars in a huge variety of grains to produce the initial alcohol, the grains themselves, and, once the distilling is done, the aging and the addition of botanicals, if any. And then there is the science of understanding the effects of alcohol on the body, and particularly on the brain, although, sadly, Rogers can’t convincingly report the discovery of a sure-fire hangover cure.  


Who are we?

Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle are both curators at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  Rob is a molecular systematist who has done research on everything from fruit fly diversity to human language, and Ian is a specialist in the study of human evolution and primates. They have collaborated on several exhibition projects, including the American Museum’s Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, and have written several books together, including the trilogy we are featuring here.


I wrote...

A Natural History of Wine

By Ian Tattersall, Rob DeSalle, Patricia J. Wynne (illustrator)

Book cover of A Natural History of Wine

What is my book about?

A Natural History of Wine (and its companion volumes A Natural History of Beer and the forthcoming Distilled: A Natural History of Spirits) all involve the science behind the alcoholic beverages we enjoy. Having long relied on wine for inspiration while writing books on subjects as diverse as race and the origin of humans, we ultimately realized that this magical drink brings together many different branches of science, from anthropology to zoology via areas as disparate as astrophysics, neurobiology, systematics, and ecology.

And as forbidding as those subjects may sound, we realized that all are much more fun and accessible when seen through the lens of wine. We also discovered just how much understanding a drink’s history, and how it found its way to that glass in your hand, enhances one’s enjoyment of it.

Canadian Whisky

By Davin de Kergommeaux,

Book cover of Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert

Canadians have been making whisky for a few centuries, but drinks experts long have given the nation’s hooch scant attention. This is understandable, as Canadian distillers spent much of the 20th century churning out an ocean of low-priced and bland-tasting blends like Seagrams 7 and Canadian Club. Times have changed, though, and Canada is producing single malts and various high-end, sophisticated whiskies that have garnered international acclaim. David de Kergommeaux is the preeminent expert on whisky in the Great North, and his book is an indispensable guide to anyone who wants to learn the what-and-how of Canadian whisky-making and its history through the current day. He also directs readers’ attention to the brands of Canadian whisky worth buying, and his recommendations are spot on.


Who am I?

I am the author of two books on distilled spirits and have been blogging at AlcoholReviews.com since 1998. I have written about drinks, drinks history, and drinks politics for the New York Times and the American Spectator magazine. Whiskey is my favorite distilled spirit—there are so many fantastic types and brands of it. For consumers, it can be really bewildering to navigate. So, I take it as my duty to help people navigate the wide and wild world of whiskey!


I wrote...

Whiskey: A Global History

By Kevin R. Kosar,

Book cover of Whiskey: A Global History

What is my book about?

Whiskey: A Global History introduces readers to the various types of whiskey, including bourbon, Canadian whiskey, corn whiskey, rye, Irish whiskey, Scotch, single malts, and blends. The book explains the drink’s often crazy history, from its obscure medieval origins to the globally traded product that it is today.

Whiskey: A Global History also recommends some great brands and classic cocktail recipes for the thirsty reader.

The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails

By Dave Wondrich, Noah Rothbaum (editor),

Book cover of The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails

This is the very first and very major reference work to cover the subjects of spirits, mixed drinks, cocktails, and the people who created them from a global perspective, providing authoritative, enlightening, and entertaining overviews. It makes this not only a valuable source but a great recreational read for enthusiasts to scan and share with friends and family. Into pub quizzes? This book offers enough libatious fodder to create thousands of brain-teasing questions.


Who am I?

I’ve been researching and writing with my co-author husband Jared Brown about spirits and mixed drinks for three decades. After writing more than three dozen books plus hundreds of articles about the history and origins of alcoholic beverages, you could say I am addicted to the topic in a big way. While we’ve travelled and tasted drinks around the world we’ve also amassed a few thousand books on the subject. It’s served as a launch point of our secondary careers as drinks consultants and master distillers for global spirits brands. I'm currently finishing my doctoral thesis on early-modern English brewing at the University of Bristol to put a feather on the cap of my long career.


I wrote...

Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink, Book Two

By Anistatia R. Miller, Jared McDaniel Brown,

Book cover of Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink, Book Two

What is my book about?

The second volume of an award-winning two-part history, Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink, Volume 2 revisits and revises much of what is generally known about spirits and mixed drink history, covering the eighteenth through twentieth centuries. A few surprises include the earliest known use of the word “cocktail” in a London newspaper in 1798; the Tom & Jerry was not named after or invented by Jerry Thomas; and the true stories behind the origins of both the Bloody Mary and Bloody Cesar. Spirituous Journey reminds readers that the world of spirits and drinks is more than just a shake, stir, or throw. There's pride in a rich history, too.

One-Liners

By Ram Dass,

Book cover of One-Liners: A Mini-Manual for a Spiritual Life Hardcover

"Don't take yourself so personally" says Ram Dass. His humor, his insights, his ability to capture great lessons and truths in one line. This book made me think and laugh at the same time = quite a feat! I so appreciate his fun look at life with his deep sense of spiritual understanding. Fantastic read.


Who am I?

I’ve taught yoga and meditation for decades to children from ages 3 to 93. My Doctorate is in Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to experience personal development and child development has a very special place in my heart. I learn so much from them! It is particularly fun to watch children discover and explore life. Everything old is new again! Sages of Young Ages can open our eyes if we simply open our ears to each child’s unique spoken truths.


I wrote...

Sages of Young Ages

By Joan Budilovsky,

Book cover of Sages of Young Ages

What is my book about?

In a fun new twist on child development, Sages of Young Ages features the itty bitty yet witty words of wisdom from children ages 3-8. Covering over 90 subjects ranging from war and peace to butterflies and baseball. Simple breaths of sweetness in complicated times. The humorous young sages on these pages are sure to put a smile on your face and in your heart.

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