Title: Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits
Author: Jason Wilson
Publication: Ten Speed Press, October 2010
My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It
Summary Statement: Witty Travelogue – Entertaining and Enlightening
Wilson is a professional writer of a magazine column about spirits. In this book he travels around the world to visit spirit manufacturers. I enjoyed the combination of his voice of wisdom combined with new impressions when he visits these places. His writing is witty and high quality, so I won’t call this book a “project memoir” (where typically an ignorant yet curious and eager learner person goes around to places to learn about a topic and writes from the perspective of a newbie-discoverer).
Each chapter covers a category of spirit and then recipes are given. Many recipes have been adapted by Wilson based on older recipes. Some are new recipes from bartenders. I liked that Wilson sought to use the spirit in the best way to appreciate the unique tastes of that brand.
I really enjoyed Wilson’s wit.
“At home, however, I find it nearly impossible to find others who share my enthusiasm for aquavit. I’m often met with a response that frankly irritates me: “Isn’t that stuff rocket fuel?” It’s been the same thing with grappa. What is it about strong foreign spirits served in tiny glasses that scares so many Americans? It feels a little xenophobic to me, and I get impatient with the rocket-fuel label.” (page 129)
“Bagging on Patron reminds me a little of teenagers who hate a band as soon as it becomes famous.” (page 143)
“To be perfectly honest, beginning your relationship with amari by drinking a shot of 80-proof Fernet-Branca is like starting to learn a language by reading its physics textbooks. The taste? How about a bracing smack in the face with a eucalyptus tree?” (page 104)Foodies may be interested in the book, as using high quality ingredients and trying to make best use of an ingredient’s flavor is not unlike cooking well.
“For eau-de-vie, you need perfect ripeness for each fruit. If it’s not fully ripe, there’s not enough sugar and too much acid. But the challenge is that all this is different for every fruit.” (page 146)
To test grappa, put some on the back of your hand and feel it. It shouldn’t feel oily, “Poorly made grappa contains a high percentage of oil. “The oil is what makes it hard to digest and gives you a headache, “ Guarda Nardini says. “That’s the grappa that makes you say, ‘Ugh, I could feel that grappa going up and down my system for three days.” (page 113)I really enjoyed reading Boozehound. The book need not be read in order and you can dip in and out of the chapters reading slowly. It makes for great before-bed reading or is a good escape read such as a beach read for foodie types. The reading is light yet it informs. And just when you think you’ve heard too many descriptions for a drink that you wish you were also sampling at that moment and may start to feel a little annoyed, Wilson makes you chuckle and you forgive the fact that the book does not come packaged in a kit with sample sizes of every spirit mentioned.
I rate the book 5 stars = I Love It.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program. For my blog's full disclosure see the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.