If there is any subtext to 99 Drams of Whiskey (now found at your favorite bookseller), it is this: Any knowledge of whiskey is secondary to the environment in which you taste it. A bottle of Jim Beam white consumed with several friends at a barbecue is far more relevant, in my opinion, than bottle of 1991 Glenrothes consumed in a nondescript environment by oneself.
In other words, if you are sitting taking notes on your drink when you could be hanging with friends, or listening to your favorite album, or sitting on the back porch watching the sunset, then you’re doing it wrong.
This, by the way, is the subtext of Hans Offringa’s books on the topic A Taste of Whisky and Whisky & Jazz. His beautiful books evoke, not just a sense of place, but almost a sense of purpose. Whether it’s having several different chefs explain the thought processes of creating a menu based off of different whiskies, or detailing why which whisky goes best with which jazz legend, what Hans does is expand the whisky world beyond that of Scotch clubs and whisky forums. What he is telling the readers is that Whisky isn’t to be tasted as much as it’s to be enjoyed.
This is how it should be. Because when one gets right down to it, whisky is a tool, a device used make our lives just a little better. But oh, what a device it is.
Mr. Offringa’s books are chock full of brilliant photography that help define the sense of his purpose. The glossy veneer of the book, and the beautiful graphics within practically dare you to not leave the book on your coffee table. Admittedly I am a fan of any book which allows me to point at pictures and say “I’ve been there!”, so take my praises of glossy photos with a bit of salt.