Rob Arnold and Eric Simanek
Texas Christian University Press
This is an intriguing and engaging book that takes a unique approach to exploring the world of whisky through the realms of chemistry to provide readers with a scientific understanding of the drink they enjoy. For instance, the authors bring a new perspective to the addition of water and/or ice to your favourite whisky.
Arnold, the head distiller at Firestone & Robertson Distillery, and Simanek, a chemistry academic, utilize their expertise to unravel the chemical processes and principles behind the creation of whisky. They delve into the composition of various whiskies, the reactions that occur during distilling and aging, and the science behind flavours and aromas. By breaking down the chemistry, the authors shed light on the art and science of whisky distilling, offering a fresh and fascinating perspective.
One of the book's strengths lies in its ability to present complex scientific concepts in an accessible and engaging manner. It strikes a balance between technical explanations and engaging anecdotes, making it an enjoyable read for both whisky enthusiasts and those with a scientific inclination. The authors' passion for their subject matter shines through, making the content relatable and captivating.
In addition to the scientific aspects, "Shots of Knowledge" also provides a historical backdrop, exploring the origins and evolution of various whisky types. The authors share intriguing stories and trivia, adding depth and context to whisky’s cultural significance.
The book is organised into approximately sixty illustrated essays which are subdivided into three sections--From Sunshine to Sugar, From Wee Beasties to White Dogs, and From Barrel to Brain. The story commences with water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight; travels through the manufacturing process; and ends with the molecules that entertain the palate. Each essay seeks to reveal the simple beauty of its subject matter, all too often hidden in the jargon of science and engineering.
If you are curious about the science behind the whisky you consume, "Shots of Knowledge" offers a unique and informative insight. It blends chemistry, and history into an engaging narrative that will leave you with a greater appreciation for the art and science of whisky.