A Global History
Distributed for Reaktion Books
A Manhattan or a Sazerac; neat, on the rocks, or with a splash of soda—no matter how it’s served up, whiskey is synonymous with the poet’s inspiration and the devil’s spirit. Be it bourbon, rye, corn, Irish, or Scotch, whiskey has an infamous and celebrated history from a sometimes lethal, herb-infused concoction to a high-quality, meticulously crafted liquor.
In Whiskey, Kevin R. Kosar delivers an informative, concise narrative of the drink’s history, from its obscure medieval origins to the globally traded product that it is today. Focusing on three nations—Scotland, Ireland, and America—Kosar charts how the technique of distillation moved from ancient Egypt to the British Isles. 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 cup—unscrupulous profiteers could distill anything into booze and pawn it off as whiskey. Eventually, government and industry established legal definitions of what whiskey is and how it could be made, allowing for the distinctive styles of whiskey known today.
Whiskey explains what whiskey is, how it is made, and how the types of whiskey differ. With a list of suggested brands and classic cocktail recipes for the thirsty reader, this book is perfect for drink and food enthusiasts and history lovers alike.
“Kosar has now poured his expertise into a new book, Whiskey: A Global History, where he shares not only his passion for the potent potable but also his knowledge about its political, economic, and cultural history. . . . Extensively researched at the Library of Congress, where he works, Whiskey is nicely illustrated with vintage photographs, advertisements, and cartoons, and packed with factoids and stories.”
“Kevin Kosar might be the most thoughtful boozehound you'll ever meet.”
"Scotch purists may splutter over Kosar's planet-wide perspective: note his spelling. But open-minded readers, and drinkers, will raise a glass to his elan and expertise."
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
Websites and Associations