News you can trust since 1817

7 of the best new and classic Scotch whisky books

Whether you're new to whisky and want to learn more, are an enthusiast looking to develop your knowledge or just keen to try a new read, here's our pick of the best books about whisky.

Published: March 2, 2023

From the history of Johnnie Walker, to Dave Broom's latest book on how place can impact whisky and a murder mystery set in a distillery, here are some whisky books for all tastes.

Chasing the Dram: Finding the Spirit of Whisky, Rachel McCormack

whisky books

In this book, Rachel McCormack looks at the history of Scotland's national drink, and why we don't use it more in cooking.

A mix of anecdotes, information on distillers, history and recipes, this is an informative and engaging book that will appeal to those learning about whisky as well as aficionados, and home cooks.

A synopsis reads: "Interspersing an engaging mix of anecdotes, history and information on distillers and recipes, this book will appeal to everyone from the cooking whisky connoisseur, to the novice whisky learner looking for some guidance on what to eat and cook.

"Rachel travels the length and breadth of Scotland, discovering a myriad of unique and interesting people and facts about this remarkable drink, with interviews with the key people who create it around the country, as she visits the famous distilleries of her country, as well as the more home-grown variety."

Priced at £9.49, you can buy it from independent book sellers here.

A Sense of Place, Dave Broom

whisky books

In this latest book, award winning writer Dave Broom examines Scotch whisky’s links to landscape, agriculture, culture and community.

Starting in Orkney he travels south via the north east coast and Spey Valley to the westerly peninsulas and Hebridean islands, before his journey finishes, via the blenders of the central belt, on the island of Islay.

Scapa Distillery to open whisky tasting room that has stunning views of Orkney

The trip also follows Scotch’s history from Neolithic brewers to today’s innovators, a tale told by distillers, but also musicians, writers and poets.

Broom considers what it means to make whisky in these places, how a distillery reflects place in its flavour, and what its role is within its community.

Priced at £38, buy it here from independent booksellers.

The Master's Spirit, Andy Frazier

A fiction book, which was released late last year, is The Master's Spirit, a debut crime novel from Andy Frazier.

Duncan Taylor announce partnership with Sir Nick Faldo on Black Bull whiskies

This murder mystery is set in and around the fictitious Glenlachan Distillery in Kilchrenan and sees local policeman Scott Donald attempt to solve not one but two murders.

The Master's Spirit is billed as a tale of deceit, murder and fraud within the world's whisky industry. But how deep does the corruption really go..?

An extract reads: "Scott had used a torch to peer through the open square hatch down into the mash-tun. The large vessel had contained a soft mix of malted barley and water, which had an evil way of pulling you down like quick sand if you stepped on it….The body was caught by the arm in one of the agitators directly below the lid, the remainder of it partly submerged in the grist."

Priced at £10.95, you can buy it from Amazon.

Ardbeg to release limited edition Ardbeg BizarreBQ - a whisky inspired by BBQ

Unquiet Spirits: Whisky, Ghosts, Murder, Bonnie MacBird

whisky books

This Sherlock novel is by American author Bonnie MacBird, and it centres around a whisky estate in Scotland, with a tale of ghosts, kidnapping and dynamite.

MacBird is a lifelong fan of Sherlock, with this her second novel in a trilogy. The story is set in Edinburgh, rural Aberdeenshire and the south of France, with whisky expert Charles Maclean imparting useful information about the whisky production.

It has been described as riveting, and follows in a convincing style of Conan Doyle. An synopsis reads: "In order to solve the mystery, the ultimate rational thinker must confront a ghost from his own past. But Sherlock Holmes does not believe in ghosts…or does he?"

Priced at £10.99, you an buy it here.

Whisky Island: A portrait of Islay and its whiskies, Andrew Jefford

One for fans of Islay and its famous peaty whiskies. In Whisky Island, you'll learn about the history and stories of Islay from shipwrecks to landscape and wildlife. Interwoven through these narratives are the stories of the island's whiskies, traced from illegal stills and bothies to present day distilleries.

The flavour profile of each whisky is analysed, with differences noted, plus you'll learn of the notable men and women who each played a part in their creation.

Priced at £12.32, you can buy it from independent book sellers here.

Whisky: A Liquid History, Charles Maclean

whisky books

Thought by some as the ultimate whisky manual, whisky expert Charles Maclean charts the history of Scotch whisky beginning as far back as 2000 BC right through to the present day. The book looks at the characters who smuggled, bribed and conspired to turn whisky from a common man's drink into an integral and admired part of popular Scottish heritage.

This dedication to the 'water of life' comes through the eyes of Charles MacLean, giving the book a personal and insightful perspective on this spirit.

Priced at £25, you can buy it here.

A Long Stride: The Story of the World's No. 1 Scotch Whisky, Dr Nicholas Morgan

This is one for fans of Johnnie Walker, as this book sees former head of whisky outreach for Diageo, Dr Nicholas Morgan chart the history of one of the most recognisable bottles of whisky.

It was released in 2020 ahead of Johnnie Walker's 200th birthday. A synopsis reads: "The history of Johnnie Walker, tracing its roots back to 1820, is also the history of Scotch whisky. But who was John Walker - the man who started the story? And how did his business grow from the shelves of a small grocery shop in Kilmarnock to become the world's No. 1 Scotch?"

In the book, Morgan answers these questions and looks at how Johnnie Walker, through reinvention and going against convention became the first truly global whisky brand, and how it revolutionised the world of advertising along the way.

Priced at £16.14, you can buy it from independent book sellers here.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

Let us know what you think


Copyright ©2023 National World Publishing Ltd
Cookie SettingsTerms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy
crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram