When you’re sick and in bed, what better things to do than read of watch TV? I did both over the last days and the first whisky book I read was Johanna Ngoh’s Single Minded.
The tagline ‘a modest guide to really good whisky’ is something that appealed to me. I find myself being more interested in finding drams at reasonable prices than trying the next € 500 whisky bottle. Mostly since that expensive one better be good. There’s no real challenge, although there is the chance that someone screwed up.
In this case it means the booklet (it is a very tiny book) focuses on bottles of whisky that are affordable but have a lot to offer nonetheless. It also avoids the pitfalls of showing you all supermarket single malts that everybody knows.
While the list of bottles is, of course, different than what I would have picked (else there would be no point in reading the book) I found myself reading every page and all reasons for picking. The writing is really good and luckily consists of much more than tasting notes to the bottles chosen. The reasoning behind the pick is about the distillery, the booze and occasions on which the whisky was tasted.
Johanna Ngoh is a name that I’m not familiar with, at least not before ‘Single Minded’ but apparently she’s big in Canada as the organizer of the annual Spirit of Toronto whisky festival. She’s been writing ‘Single Minded’ as a column for a Canadian paper since 2002 so she’s earned her stripes.
The title ‘Single Minded 2013’ suggests that there will be other editions too, and while the website has not been updated yet, she has said on Twitter that the 2014 version is available. Although it will most likely be just an update on the 2013 version, since there won’t be that much changes to your recommendations in the ‘affordable’ category per year, right?
Anyway, it’s a nice read, and the first one in years that got me to read actual notes about why a whisky is in a book. It also doesn’t try to tell you which whiskies are the best ones out there on a budget. The minor chapter on more expensive drams for special occasions is nice too. In short, a lovely read. And, at $ 20 including shipping all over the world it’s not too expensive either. Recommended for beginners though, since there’s a lot in there that long running whisky fans already know.