The Bottom Line
- A virtual tour of the different styles of whiskey throughout the world.
- Charismatic, honest story telling of Hopkins' travels that lightens the mood.
- A thorough history of the development of whiskey through time: production, trends, legal issues, etc
- History and real, modern day adventure in one package.
- Some of the tax law history is a little long.
- Full Title: 99 Drams of Whiskey: The Accidental Hedonist's Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink
- Written by Kate Hopkins
- Published by St. Martin's Press
- Released: June, 2009
- 283 pages, hardcover
- List Price: $24.95
Guide Review - 99 Drams of Whiskey by Kate Hopkins
99 Drams of Whiskey is one of those books that entangles the author's adventure of research with the history of that being researched. In this instance it is quite obviously whiskey, not just bourbon or Scotch however, but the whole gamut. In this book we are brought into Kate Hopkins' (The Accidental Hedonist) conversations with distillers, pub owners and historians as she begins in Ireland (the disputed origin of whiskey), travels to Scotland and eventually the Americas with her traveling companion, an admitted whiskey beginner. That is the enjoyable part of this book, it is not snobbish and Hopkins does not portray the "all seeing whiskey power" that this topic often brings out. Instead, she has an open mind about taste, is aware of the brand push and is honest about the entire experience. It's a refreshing perspective.
Scattered throughout Hopkins' account of her travels is the history of whiskey. It is a rich one, filled with defiant distillers, overindulging imbibers, tyrannical governments, taxes, laws, mechanical innovation and, most of all, a clear development in the styles. To not be a strict, textbook-like examination of whiskey over the years, there is a surprising amount of information in 99 Drams of Whiskey and it never gets boring, tedious or so long-winded that you have to read over sections. It is books like this that make history fun.
You will also find tasting sidebars scattered throughout the book. Rare finds like Locke's 63 year-old Irish whiskey, which is unavailable publicly and possibly extinct by now and which she describes as "an old man who could dance exquisitely", are some of the hidden pleasures Hopkins finds on her journey. Then there are the popular brands like Canadian Club's 6 year-old, which she likens to a bar band from college days, and Maker's Mark, which "is like that blue-collar genius".