We love to drink it, but let's be honest, most of us don't really care about how the hard stuff is made, as long it's on the shelves on sale.
With that in mind, Spirits Distilled by Mark Ridgwell is primarily a book for industry professionals, bar tenders and mixologists, but if you can look past the necessarily dry sections about processes, principles and classifications, you'll find a treasure trove of interesting information about the history and culture of spirits.
Mark Ridgwell has worked with the world's leading spirit makers including Smirnoff, Hennessy, J&B Rare, Beefeater and Courvoisier to name a few, but his biggest achievement was the introduction of Maker's Mark bourbon to a global market.
In 1999 Mark set up Taste and Flavour, a digital network of experts, enthusiasts and professionals designed to promote spirit education and in fact worked with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust to create the Level 2 Certificate in Spirits. Now called The Level 1 Award in Spirits, this globally recognised qualification forms a part of Mark's mission to make spirit education as widespread as viticulture.
Spirits Distilled is an economical publication, and while the black and white images are small, they're plentiful and because the content is so accessible and rich with interesting references, including pop quizzes, it makes an ideal gift for a hobbyist, or home fancier and an excellent reference manual for industry professionals.
Quite often, the heritage of the hardest spirits is surprisingly colourful and even more so the nicknames they've earned over the years. The Royal Navy used to refer to rum as Nelson's Blood because the sailors actually drank from the barrel of rum that Lord Nelson's body had been stored in to preserve it for the journey back to England.
You might be surprised to find the origins of the term Dutch Courage to be equally literal.
Visit Mark Ridgwell's website at tasteandflavour.co.uk
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