Ian Buxton completes a hat-trick with his latest tome that follows on the back of the successes of 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die and the World whisky brethren. I enjoyed the debut that broke free of the tiresome rusty shackles often associated with whisky literature. The current boom for whisky applies to written word and every expert and professional blogger seems to have a book in the pipeline. In comparison at least Ian has some provenance and expertise on the subject and isn’t afraid to be candid about past events.
The global-focused sequel somehow managed to escape my finely tuned malt radar. Perhaps I was on the lookout for some obscure Japanese whisky and overlooked the home market – this can happen. Always an avid reader of whisky books, I couldn’t resist picking up another instalment and settling down with his latest compilation of legends this week.
If you approach this book expecting a list of iconic, rarely seen, priced out of reach whiskies then you will be disappointed. Legends isn’t a countdown of the greatest or the most outlandishly priced whiskies bottled by mankind. Rather, Ian has taken a refreshing approach to create a handheld summary of some whisky nuggets. Expect more variety than the title suggests from rare bottles, to oddities and bygone distilleries. Ian has also injected his own opinions and sense of fun making the resulting experience far more enjoyable than a book that rests solely on tasting notes.
There are some surprising inclusions that highlight his approach to the ‘legendary’ labelling such as the Ardbeg Galileo, Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition and The Glenlivet 18 year old. Each selection is justified and ultimately seems to fit within the overall scope of an unlikely assortment. The feeling is that whisky has a rich and detailed history, yet there is so much to appreciate in existence today. Let’s also not forget about the fun aspect of drinking and sharing with friends that is so overlooked now. Some legends are just that, waiting to be debunked and others will (almost) never be seen on the open market again.
Yes, there are some spectacular legends such as the Dalmore 50 and Bowmore 1957; these being recent ultra-premium bottling’s from distilleries. As an enthusiast I already know about such examples although Ian does provide his own insights and anecdotes during their pages. I found reading about the Glenmorganie Walter Scott miniature and other oddities interesting and ultimately educational. Lesser known closed distilleries also feature in the countdown and prove to be insightful and rewarding. After all, the current fad is super-aged and premium-priced whisky for the luxury and international collector/investor market. Such bottles are never publicity shy, grabbing all the headlines rarely to be drunk or seen again. When the bubble bursts, which it will readers, then we may start to see these bottles being dusted down and flogged as the luxury collectors go into meltdown. It’s nice to revive some long forgotten blends and distilleries and put the spotlight on them for a couple of pages.
For less than the price of a very cheap blend this is a handy sized accompaniment that you can dip in and out of now and again. It might not form the market view of what a reference guide should look like yet those nuggets of information regarding rare blends that sometime appear for auction is welcome. At least when I next see a Pattisons whisky, I’ll know which book to consult.