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99 Drams of Whiskey: The Accidental Hedonist's Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink Hardcover – May 26, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1St Edition edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312381085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312381080
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The publisher's description of "part travelogue, part distillery guide, and part history book" is accurate but lacking. This book is fun! My curiosity grew to interest and giggles while reading 99 Drams. Ms. Hopkins kept her book an easy read by balancing the density of history with whiskey tasting notes and anecdotes from her visits to renowned distilleries.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of Kate Hopkin's immensely pleasurable site Accidental Hedonist. My bias is towards enjoying her personal writing style and discovering her idea of the where to go and what to taste on her quest to find that perfect shot. She's a smart women with loads of great taste. I hope to read more from her, I like her dry, intelligent and humorous perspective. Great reading for the foodie (or in this case drinkee) who likes to geek out on facts and personal asides.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is very entertaining lots of information for single malt enthusiast but disappointed that ended too soon with a short finish like one of the single malts I tasted. I would highly recommend .Thank You Kate.
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Format: Paperback
This is a good book. It's a fun read--light and enjoyable. It's a road-trip travelogue interspersed with enjoyable asides that cover topics that all true fans of whisky and whiskey will enjoy reading. Specifically, historical insights into the distilleries and the development of regulatory history in Ireland, England, and Scotland that shaped the industry. As to the "true fans" comment, there are two kinds of whisky drinkers: Those who drink whisky, and those who are whisky drinkers. My comment is targeted at the latter--true whisky fans.

I have spent a lot of my professional life writing, including authoring a couple of books and numerous magazine articles. As a result, I pay attention to details like the difference between "whisky" and "whiskey" in context. Whisky and whiskey are not synonymous to me; I stumbled over every reference to Scotch as "whiskey." The author addresses this in the introductory material, and I get what she's saying, but this practice still nagged at me. Furthermore, the book could have stood better copyediting. In the span of one page, the Johnnie Walker brand was referred to by both its correct spelling and as "Johnny Walker." Not earth-shattering stuff, but it makes a difference to the discriminating reader.

I found the whisky and whiskey reviews in the book to be amusing, rather than serious whisky-writer stuff--a diversion that I enjoyed. There are lots of places to find serious reviews; I found this book's reviews light and different with an fun twist.

I'd have enjoyed some photos to add to the travelogue angle.

As I said, this is a fun read. I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to sharing it with a couple of whisky-loving friends who I know will appreciate it for the same reasons.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
That we are planning a whiskey tour this year!!!
He says that it's a very down to earth written book, not snobbish like many wine books, tons of information and I've heard him laugh a lot while reading the book.
Happy reader.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
that Kate Hopkins set out to write the definitive book on whisky or whiskey. She set out to have some fun, to relive some memories, and to create a fun yet informative read.

She did that and it is fun and informative.
Her timing and her pace is easy to follow. Her down to earth writing style is easy to read and I devoured it with great pleasure in a very short time.

A tome or a reference book it is not. By the same token it is not just a fluff piece and one can learn details of the industry, some trivia, and gain a general perspective on whiskey.

It is a very fun read and her style made it easy to follow the evolution of whiskey (as she decides to call it).
I am not a "common sewer" of fine whiskies and I don't expect to be. Not on my list of objectives in this life.
I do enjoy a good and light read that leaves me a little more informed than I was before I read the book.

Buy or borrow the book, sit down with a wee bit of the drink ( if you choose) and have a good time.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very enjoyable read, especially with a dram of Redbreast or Bushmills nearby. I'm proud to say that my cabinet is now filled with several brands of whiskey that I savour with new appreciation, thanks to Kate. What a wonderful journey. Well done and highly recommended for those wishing to graduate beyond Jack Daniels.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After hearing an interview with the author on NPR (Fresh Air?) I purchased this book as a gift for a man who enjoys Scotch whiskey and likes to try and learn about different varieties of scotch. He very much enjoyed the book, which is apparently part "story," part history and information. I didn't read it myself, but the recipient enjoyed it very much.
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