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Whiskey and Philosophy Book Review

The new book Whiskey and Philosophy: A Small Batch of Spirited Ideas is fun, fun, fun, if you're a giant whiskey nerd.


I suppose I'm an equal-opportunity spirits nerd, so I quite enjoyed the book. There is an entire section called "The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Whiskey" and what's not to like about that? The other sections of the book are The History and Culture of Whiskey, the Beauty and Experience of Whiskey, Ethics and Whiskey, and Whiskey: A Sense of Place.

Despite the name of that last section, the first two essays in the book basically argue against the notion of terroir in scotch, at least how it is made today. Sacrilege! But the systematic analysis was great.

Other essays talk about whiskey marketing, consumption habits (by women, alcoholics, and in my favorite essay, Buddhists), applied aesthetics in evaluating whiskey, whiskey judging and scoring (lots on this), whiskey tasting and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (finally my physics degree comes in handy!), ethics and morality in the whiskey drinker, and taste and cognitive perception.

The book is written by a group of people; some of them philosophers, some of them whiskey writers and drinkers, some of them both. There is not a real central thesis to the book, so all the chapters stand alone but there is some overlap.

There are some dud chapters in the book, assuming that if you're going to buy this you're already at least relatively familiar with whiskey styles, regions, and history and don't need to have it repeated here. Some chapters are explorations of the authors' personal journeys with whiskey. Meh. Others are expertly crafted scientific, philosophical, or journalistic arguments. But as the book comes in at 330 pages in text before the appendices, there is plenty of room for a few less-inspiring chapters along with the awesome ones.

But the worst part about the book is reading it alone. I'd love to discuss some of the concepts and chapters contained within the book with other drink nerds, so I'm going to recommend that you go out and buy the book and also copies for your other whiskey nerd friends.

*Or you could win it. I'm giving away five copies of the book to people on the Alcademics A-Plus email list. Sign up here for your chance to win this week.

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