From Publishers Weekly
Prompted by the legend of a man, Mr. Disposable Income, who paid over $70,000 for a rare bottle of single malt Scotch whisky, Hopkins and her friend Krysta hit the road on a quest to parse the spiritÖs immense appeal—and to look for the perfect shot of whiskey. Part road-trip memoir, part history and part handy tasting guide, HopkinsÖs search takes them to Ireland, Scotland, Pittsburgh (the authorÖs hometown), Kentucky and Canada. Hopkins, a popular blogger who goes by the moniker The Accidental Hedonist, has an easy, friendly tone, and her book often reads like a series of blog posts, albeit longer and well-researched. This works well when Hopkins gives historical context—how blended whiskeys overtook traditional whiskey in popularity, the story of the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania and how Prohibition decimated the U.S. whiskey industry. But the casual tone can make the first-person narrative sound a bit like two American coeds on a whiskey-bingeing spring break (Hopkins and her companion are in their early 40s and 30s, respectively). Still, this is a pleasant and informative read. (June)
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Perhaps hoping for the next Julie & Julia (2005), the Accidental Hedonist blogger has written a book—but despite her blog’s popularity, her authorial skills are a work in progress. The setup is simple: with a friend, Hopkins visits whiskey-producing regions on the “Right Side” of the Atlantic (Ireland and Scotland) and the “Left Side” (the U.S.), interspersing her travelogue with whiskey history. The word hedonist is misleading: the duo visits dram shops and tours distilleries while Hopkins transcribes painfully uninteresting exchanges (“Krysta clapped, saying ‘Yay!!!’ . . . ”). As for the history, would-be hedonists aren’t likely to expect quite so much information about eighteenth-century British tax law. There may be an audience for this apart from the blog’s followers, but one suspects Hopkins doesn’t know who that might be. Neither authoritative enough for the connoisseur nor entertaining enough for the neophyte, this will work best for readers who want a general history of the drink—if they skim over the attempts to make it interesting. To quote the author’s own rhetorical flourish: “Meh, not so much.” --Keir Graff