82 of 90 people found the following review helpful
Intelligent Writing with a dry wit!,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Drunken Botanist (Hardcover)
This book turned out to be an excellent reference on plants and their many uses by humans. The author discussed many plant uses beside fermenting plant starches into sugars by the addition of yeasts. One could tell the author loved discussing plants with the occasional witty remark and her extensive knowledge of each of the various species. If one could find a fault with the book, it might be the inclusion of many species of which all but those engaged in botanical research would be familiar. But that aside the book was a fun and informative read. The author chose to list all the various plants by their common names rather than list them by their Latin nomenclature, as is more typical in many botanical references, and this point was greatly appreciated.
Although there were hundreds of interesting facts regarding the various plant species, I would like to list just a few to give the readers an idea that the book was interesting and did not just discuss making booze.
1. We learn the Barley is the most prolific grain at converting its starches into sugar to make alcohol because it has a high level of enzymes and that it is an easy plant to grow not being much affected by cold, drought, or poor soil conditions.
2. Peat is what gives Scotch its particular taste.
3. Kentucky produces 90% of all the bourbon in the world. [p47]
4. Cork comes from the Portuguese Oak [Quercus Suber. It is stripped annually with each tree yielding about 4k corks, primarily used in wine bottling, yet the trees regenerate new bark each year and live for about 2 centuries before finally dying.
5. The real difference between American and Canadian whiskeys is that each batch of American whiskey reguires a new oak barrel, while Canadians can use barrels previously used for making wine or whiskey before. This gives it more flavor than American bourbon, but each batch may taste slightly different depending on what the barrels had previously held.
6. Absinthe doesn't make you drunk [crazy] because of the wormwood being fermented but the fact that it was originally bottles at 70% ABV as opposed to Brandy commonly bottled at 40% ABV. Since it was 75% stronger you got drunk and started acting crazy much sooner than had you been drinking Brandy which was very commonly drunk when people favored absinthe. In this regard think of Henry Miller and Anais Nin.
7. Vodka became popular in America only after WWII because distillers couldn't get enough grain to use, so begged potato growers to send them all the small and misshapen potatoes they had, since appearance wouldn't matter. Distillers sold 1M gallons of Vodka in 1946 and 30M by 1965. BTW, Vodka uses rye, wheat, and other grains in its manufacture, but most Americans think of it as only made from Potatoes. There is also a big controversy over where Vodka originated, whether Poland or Russia. [p70]
8. We also learn that that the agave plant used to make Tequila is not a cactus but a member of the asparagus family, and that each plant yields enough sap to make about 250 gallons of maguay beer, which was drunk some 2K years ago. How do we know that; well it is because some scientist analyzed some 2k year old coprofites. :-0
9. Although humans have about 25k different genes, an apple tree has 57k.
There was also a nice and lengthy section on herbs made from the green or fleshy part of plants and spices made from the bark, root, stem, or seed of plants.
As you can see there was a lot more to the book than the simple making of booze. Highly recommended.
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 30, 2015 6:23:58 PM PST
Nitpick: "it might be the inclusion of many species of which all but those engaged in botanical research would be familiar" should be "of which NONE but those engaged in botanical research would be familiar"
‹ Previous 1 Next ›