Whisky: The Water of Life - Uisge Beatha

Whisky: The Water of Life - Uisge Beatha

by Helen Arthur

Everything about whiskey in an attractive well illustrated format and written by an expert. The book provides a tour of the world's best, history of renowned distilleries, information on the culture of surrounding it, tips on enjoying the drink, and more.


Everything about whiskey in an attractive well illustrated format and written by an expert. The book provides a tour of the world's best, history of renowned distilleries, information on the culture of surrounding it, tips on enjoying the drink, and more.

Editorial Reviews

Arthur, a veteran of the whisky industry, provides a wealth of information for the connoisseur of this popular spirit. She discusses the distillation process, how the drink managed to survive periods of taxation and prohibition, how various countries adapted their own resources and climate conditions to produce whiskies made from a variety of grains, and the culture of whisky, particularly advertising. She also offers the names of whisky societies, distilleries with addresses and contact numbers, and an alphabetical directory of selected whiskies. Extensively illustrated with 40 color and b&w illustrations. Canadian card order number: C99-932188-9. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.75(w) x 11.25(h) x 1.00(d)

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Read an Excerpt


In my early years working as a public relations consultant in the whisky industry, my job was to raise the media and consumer profiles of particular brands and not necessarily to know the inner workings of the industry. The best thing about landing a whisky account, my business partner, the late Patrick Gallagher, would say was that "before anything else happened they sent you a crate of the stuff to try and whisked you off to a distillery to see how it was made." These visits to places as far apart as Highland Park on Orkney, Laphroaig on Islay or The Glendronach in the eastern Highlands of Scotland will linger forever in my memory.

Anyone who has visited a distillery knows the distinctive smell of malting barley and the reek of peat smoke. Crossing the threshold, I always feel a sense of wonder that something as wonderful as a single malt can be created by mixing water, barley and yeast.

Whisky has always been a sort of personal passport in this way, opening doors I would never otherwise have found. It sparks immediate discussion when I tell people that, among other things, I write books on whisky. The response is inevitably the same: "Which is your favorite?" I'm sure all whisky writers suffer this situation and the answer is never simple because of the range and variety of whiskies available. Will I be drinking whisky before a meal and, if so, what will I be eating? Or will I be drinking whisky at a cocktail party and will there be a selection of blended and single malt whiskies
to choose from? The questions can go on and on.

The second question often asked is, Which whiskies would you recommend to start a whisky collection?" This is perhaps an easier question to answer. A selection of several single malts from Scottish islands, Laphroaig or Lagavulin from Islay for a really peaty malt, maybe Talisker from Skye for a little less peat and Highland Park, which is a good after-dinner drink. I would then choose a Speyside single malt such as The Glenlivet and a Highland, possibly Old Pulteney. For a sweeter taste you could include The Macallan or Glenmorangie finished in port pipes. Finish the collection off with Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey from the United States, Bushmills from Northern Ireland and a couple of blends and then enjoy your armchair travels around the world of whisky.

It was with these and many other questions in my mind that I started to write this book. In my early work with the whisky industry, I was often unaware of the legislative and economic pressures forcing changes worldwide - some of them not for the better. I tried to fill the gaps in my knowledge while researching my first book on whisky, The Single Malt Whisky Companion. With this book I have taken my research still further and have made some interesting discoveries.

I have tried to gather as much material as possible from source, but with historical data there is bound to be some distortion over the years. I apologize for any errors or omissions which might appear, but I believe these are inevitable in a book with such an all-encompassing brief. Many of the comments are my own personal views and I hope readers won't find these irritating - there is absolutely nothing worse than reading a book and wishing you could wring the author's neck! Of course, a little controversy makes for interesting reading...

While working on this book, I have had the pleasure of tasting new whiskies, sampling some really old malts and meeting many people who share my enthusiasm, and dedicate their knowledge and skills to distilling, blending, marketing and selling whisky worldwide. One thing became clear very early on: whether cruising through the gorges of the Yangtze river, crossing the wilds of Siberia or lazing by a poolside bar in Barbados - no matter where you are in the world - where there's a bar, there's whisky, one of the greatest passports available.

So open a bottle of your favorite whisky, pour yourself a small dram and settle down with this book for a very unique journey.

Meet the Author

Helen Arthur

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