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197 × 120 × 15 mm
144 pages
55 illustrations, 27 in colour
01 Oct 2010

Whiskey A Global History Kevin R. Kosar

Whiskey: poets have celebrated it, preachers have condemned it, and blood has been shed over it. Governments, distillers and the public have fought over whiskey as it changed from a sometimes lethal, herb-infused concoction to a high-quality, meticulously crafted liquor.

Kevin R. Kosar tells the story of whiskey, and its rise from obscure medieval origins to become the globally traded product that it is today. Focusing on Scotland, Ireland and the USA, Kosar charts how the technique of distillation moved from Ancient Egypt to the British Isles, and explains how, contrary to popular claims, there were no ‘good old days’ of whiskey. Before the twentieth century, consumers could never be sure just what was being poured in their cups – unscrupulous profiteers could distil anything into booze and pass it off as whiskey. Eventually, governments and industry established legal definitions of what whiskey is and how it could be made, and today’s distinctive styles of whiskey evolved.

Whiskey: A Global History explains how the types of whiskey – bourbon, corn, rye, Irish and Scotch – differ. With a list of recommended whiskey brands and classic whiskey cocktail recipes for the thirsty reader, this book is aimed at drink and food enthusiasts and history lovers alike.

‘Scotch purists may splutter over Kosars planet-wide perspective: note his spelling. But open-minded readers, and drinkers, will raise a glass to his élan and expertise.’ — I (Independent)

‘the perfect primer for the person who wants to quickly learn the basics . . . his book is for more typical folks, many of whom have difficulty sorting out their single-malt Scotches from their bourbons from their Irish whiskeys.’ — Washington Post

‘a brief, informative, and endlessly diverting history of whiskey -in its many incarnations - that is not exactly intoxicating, but deeply satisfying . . . it would be difficult to find, in the holiday season, a superior gift to this tasty, eye-opening, gem of light scholarship.’ — The Weekly Standard

‘Kevin Kosar might be the most thoughtful boozehound youll ever meet’ — The Washingtonian

‘Once seen, the photograph on page 116 of the flared head of a pickled baby cobra inside a bottle of greenish whiskey from Thailand is liable to resist even the strongest attempts to scotch it from memory. Fortunately the other pages of this pocket-size guide are filled with sufficient charm and erudition to compensate.’ — Diplomat magazine

‘Another good one in the series is Whiskey note the spelling which gives a true global history. Its a good summer reading companion with an added bonus of tempting recipes!’ — Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey

‘Kevin R. Kosar tells the story of whiskey from its obscure medieval origins to the global product that it is today. Focusing on Scotland, Ireland and the USA, Kosar explains how bourbon, corn, rye, Irish and Scotch differ, with a list of recommended brands and classic cocktail recipes for the thirsty reader to enjoy.’ — Living North

‘equips readers with the basics to navigate the world of whiskey in straightforward terms, breaking down not only the language so that consumers can interpret what the labels mean . . . but also give readers an understanding of how so much of the whiskey industry around the world is tied to government policy and legislation. With maps, antique illustrations and advertisements, charts and photos, this global history distills the spirit in a way thats accessible and engaging.’ — Liza Weisstuchs Annual Gift Guide, Beverage Business

‘an informative, concise narrative of the drinks history, from its obscure medieval origins to the globally traded product that it is today.’ — Eat-Drink-Etc.com

Whiskey . . . peels away the mythology to examine the real history of this legendary drink. Kosar shows that its history is at least as fascinating as the legend . . . a delightful book’ — Galveston Daily News

‘Kevin Kosar has been interviewed about Whiskey on Radio New Zealands This Way Up programme. A link to the interview is below’ — Quote

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Kevin R. Kosar is the founder of AlcoholReviews.com. His writings on alcoholic beverages have appeared in American.com, the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (2004) and the New York Press and New York Hangover newspapers. He lives in Washington, DC.


1. Origins: From Seed to Spirit
2. Early History
3. Whisky in Scotland
4. Whiskey in Ireland
5. Whiskey in the USA
6. The Twenty-first Century Whiskey World

Some Widely Available, Recommended Brands
Select Bibliography
Websites and Associations
Photo Acknowledgements