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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Read All About It

Whisky books are becoming a pretty common sight when you head to your local retailer (assuming they haven't all been closed down and turned into a bloody Starbucks...)

We've long since been big supporters of Ingvar Ronde's superbly researched 'Malt Whisky Yearbook' and if any of you are looking for a detailed account of every working distillery, then look no further. In fact, there are so many good publications out there, it goes to show that there's life in the old bedside read yet.

Recently there's been a trend towards the rediscovery of long since deleted tomes and historical texts. The brilliant, but tricky to find 'Whisky Distilleries of The United Kingdom' by Alfred Barnard has just been reprinted and is in our view, essential reading for those wanting to learn more about distillery characteristics at the turn of the century.

So it was a huge pleasure to recently receive two very interesting tomes by whisky author Ian Buxton. Ian is one of the founders of Classic Expressions, a publisher specialising in the re-introduction of long, lost distillation books, beautifully reprinted using premium quality paper and binding. To simply handle one really gives you the impression that you are delving into a very special text indeed and their two latest releases are no exception.

Ian has clearly been a busy man over the last year or so. 'Glenglassaugh- A Distillery Reborn' offers what he describes as a 'semi-detached' explanation of the distillery's history, closure and subsequent rebirth back in early 2008. The most striking aspect of the book (save for its wonderful presentation) is the sheer amount of research which has clearly gone into the project. From the initial photograph showing a warehouse in desperate need of repair, you are drawn into the magical journey of discovery, which the new owners must have experienced when taking on such a mammoth task to breathe life into the sleeping Highland giant. There are accounts from former distillery managers of the early 1970's as well as a huge amount of historical imagery and Ian does a tremendous job of making the resurrection of Glenglassaugh a wholly enjoyable read, rather than merely a collection of prosaic facts. Anyone interested in this brand new (old) distillery would be advised to grab a copy of Ian's book, uncork a bottle of their fabulous 26 yo (or 40 yo, if you're flush enough...) and settle back for an evening of pure whisky indulgence.

UK RRP £19.99 ISBN 978-1-906476-13-7
Published by Neil Wilson Publishing (Angel's Share)

Next up is a very special book indeed. We're pretty clear on Caskstrength about our love for Highland Park and when Ian mentioned he had been working with the distillery on a historical project we were very intrigued to find out more. The result is a superb recreation of 'Highland Park'- A Good Foundation'- essentially a brief account of the distillery from 1924, which Ian has applied his meticulous reprinting genius to. In short, it looks, feels and reads superbly. From the hand block-stamped facsimile of an original promotional booklet cover on the back, to the perfect blemish-free black and white photos of the distillery from the early 20th century, every page positively reeks of Orkney and a golden age in Highland Park's rich history. It is reassuring to read that many of the distillation practices pioneered nearly 90 years ago are still cherished by the current custodians of the distillery and highlights just how important it is to protect the legacies of our best loved whiskies. The book is currently unavailable commercially, but we're sure plans are afoot to give this the exposure it deserves. Watch this space.