Home > Books/Magazines, Food & Drink, Reviews > Book Review: The Way Of Whisky By Dave Broom – Photography By Kohei Take

Book Review: The Way Of Whisky By Dave Broom – Photography By Kohei Take

‘Renowned whisky expert Dave Broom has been visiting Japan’s distilleries for the past 17 years and is recognised as a leading commentator on this fascinating whisky style… …Dave investigates what makes Japanese whisky Japanese, the secret of ‘Whisky-do’.’ (Octopus)

The Way of Whisky press imagesThe first impression on seeing this book, even without opening it, was expensive coffee table book. At a glance it is beautifully put together with stunning photography by Kohei Take. Thankfully, on reading the Introduction it becomes obvious it’s so much more than that. It’s the Introduction that nails the aim of the book and it’s surprisingly close to a Buddhist concept, that of seeing the universe in a sheet of paper (what the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh calls ‘Clouds in Each Paper’) except in this case it’s applied to Japanese whisky. It’s in this typically Japanese approach, highlighted by Glaswegian whisky expert Broom’s analysis, that there is so much more involved than just the brewing process; an in depth philosophical approach and practical application and attention to detail involving traditional Japanese crafts and concepts in a way that is perhaps lacking in whisky production elsewhere.

Dave Broom

Dave Broom, © Octopus Books

The book is broken down into nine chapters looking in depth at various distilleries around Japan interspersed with sections examining various key Japanese crafts, concepts and people associated with the whisky industry in Japan that link into the overall production processes involved, some of which Broom touches on very briefly in the Introduction.

soho japanese whiskies

Japanese whiskies on sale in Soho, London

Between each of the nine distillery focused sections are brief travelogues covering the author’s journeys between distilleries written in refreshingly diary like prose which paints delightful pictures of a journey that most of us will never make. That being said this book takes the reader on a vicarious journey into the world of Japanese whisky distilleries emphasising the importance of the various elements involved in the making of Japanese whisky; blends, grains, malts, yeasts, aging, casks and so on. As such it’s a good mix of whisky facts and whisky ‘chat’ which for anyone not familiar with the insider intricacies of the world of Japanese whisky helps to engage and keep the attention of the reader who may not be a whisky aficionado, let alone a Japanese whisky aficionado. As Broom puts it succinctly it’s a mixture of the technical and philosophical.

the way of whisky 1

Photos © Kohei Take

The distillery focused sections go into the development of the distillery itself and their whiskies, each of which is investigated with patently obvious enthusiasm. The mouth-wateringly prosaic descriptions of the various flavours of the whiskies are further embellished by tasting notes sections at the end of each distillery chapter, all of which helps to draw the reader further and further into the world of Japanese whisky. If not a whisky aficionado before reading this book the reader will most likely be afterwards and like a good whisky further readings over time will help the reader develop and mature their interest and knowledge of this fascinating subject.

The book reiterates and emphasises that whisky, like almost all of what were originally foreign imports, when taken in by the Japanese has been retuned, redeveloped and enhanced in such a way that it has been made an entirely Japanese product.

the way of whisky 2

Photo © Kohei Takei

Delving into the world of Japanese whisky is not for the faint hearted though and admittedly, since the appearance of Japanese whisky on the world market in 2002, it has developed into a high end product with a certain cachet, and this now comes with associated premium costs which take many Japanese whiskies out of the reach of most people’s pockets. After reading Broom’s book it is easier to understand why.

Broom’s book was shortlisted under the Drink Books category for the 2017 prestigious annual André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards which showcases the best of contemporary food and drink writing and was selected from more than 150 submissions. It is a classy book on what has often been perceived as a niche product debunking some of the myths that non-Japanese may have about Japanese whisky – thoroughly recommended for both aficionados and non-aficionados alike!

Notes:

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. In 2015 Tales of the Cocktail presented Dave with the Best Cocktail & Spirits Award, soon to be followed by the Golden Spirit Award in 2016. 

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.’

https://www.octopusbooks.co.uk/books/detail.page?isbn=9781784723958

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER 

‘Kohei Take is a Tokyo-based photographer, specialising in travel, portraits and fashion. His work has appeared in many adverts and in magazines.’

https://www.takeph.com/

André Simon FOOD & DRINK BOOK awards

‘Founded in 1978, the André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards are the only awards in the UK to exclusively recognise the achievements of food and drink writers and are the longest continuous running awards of their kind. The first two awards were given to Elizabeth David and Rosemary Hume for their outstanding contribution in the fields of food and cooking. Other winners include Michel Roux, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Nigel Slater and Rick Stein.’

Reviewer’s Profile:

Trevor Skingle was born and lives in London where he works in the field of Humanitarian Disaster Relief. He is a Japanophile and his hobbies are Kabuki, painting and drawing and learning Japanese.

Related Posts:

Book Review: ‘The Meaning of Rice: And Other Tales from the Belly of Japan’ by Michael Booth

Japanese Whisky Tasting At Tsuru Restaurant London

“Matcha Delight” – A Unique And Tasty Way To Enjoy Japanese Green Tea!

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