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Gin: The Manual Hardcover – October 6, 2015
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You could not write a more sophisticated book or pack more detail onto each page...it is rocket science impressive * Huffington Post *
About the Author
Award-winning author and whisky expert Dave Broom has been writing about whisky for 25 years as a journalist and author. He has written eight books, two of which (Drink! and Rum) won the Glenfiddich Award for Drinks Book of the Year. He has also won the Glenfiddich Award for Drinks Writer of the Year twice and recently won the extremely prestigious IWSC Communicator of the Year Award.
Dave is editor-in-chief of Whisky Magazine: Japan, consultant editor to Whisky Magazine (UK, the USA, France, Spain), and a lead columnist on Whisky Advocate (USA). He is also editor of the Scotch Whisky Review and a contributor to a raft of national and international titles including the Spectator, Mixology, and Imbibe (Europe). He is a regular broadcaster on TV and radio.
Over his two decades in the field, Dave has built up a considerable international following with regular training/educational visits to France, Holland, Germany, the USA and Japan. His remit has covered consumer features as well as business reports. He is also actively involved in whisky education, acting as a consultant to major distillers on tasting techniques as well as teaching professionals and the public. He was also one of the developers of Diageo's generic whisky tasting tool, the Flavour Map(TM).
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I certainly admire Broom's thoroughness in pursuing gin's history as a beverage and as a social phenomenon - actually, an ongoing and living sequence of phenomena. But, I must admit, history per se holds little interest for me. And, as much as I enjoyed reading about the hundred-plus gins that Broom evaluates, I probably won't sample (or even find) more than a relative few of them, let alone the arcana of the cocktail recipes at the end. Then, as an inveterate DIY-er, Broom's convincing case for leaving it to the pros left me a bit let down.
What I take away from this, despite its problems, is an approach to thinking about my experience of a fine product, finely presented. Although florid a times, it offers a language for describing the experience - but one that demands good familiarity with many of the flavorants in isolation. It reinforces the fact that a mouth feels as much as it tastes, and that matters to the drinking experience. Then there's the flavor analogy to a fact that colorists know well, that color can be perceived very differently according to other colors nearby. Likewise, experience of a flavor depends greatly on the flavors it's paired with. And, as you might experience a musical motif differently as a tune progresses, flavors also progress. Different elements present themselves in the first chilled sip, then as it warms in your mouth, then as you breath it out through the nose's rich analytic senses.
So, the direct content of this book didn't offer what I might have hoped - not that any book actually could have. Instead, its language and analytic approach gave me far more than I expected. Among other things, it caused me to reconsider a gin I found at a tasting just lately. It seemed to me inauthentic, too fruity and sweet. Well, if I taste it again, I might not like it any better. I will, however, take it more seriously, consider what goals it tries to achieve (even if not mine), and place it along a much broader spectrum than I knew gins could span.
The last part of the taste test section considers Old Toms, genevers, barrel-aged, and fruit-flavored gins, and these are mixed in a different set of cocktails: the gin fizz, the Martinez, and the "gin cocktail" (a gin Old-Fashioned). The book is rounded out with essays on the spirit's history and production, and with over thirty cocktail recipes, including the Big Five: the Martini, the Negroni, the John (or Tom) Collins, the Ramos Gin Fizz, and the Singapore Sling. Curiously, the Gibson (1:1 gin and dry vermouth, with onions) isn't once mentioned.
Broom's a good critic, and I find his writing engaging ("When you drink a Martini, you inevitably become a bore because you are the only person who knows how to make it correctly"). I learned a few things about nosing and tasting gins from this book; it was time well spent.