Skip to main content

Whisky: The Manual

whisky manual the
Image used with permission by copyright holder
The debate may still be out on whether it’s spelled whisky or whiskey, but for the sake of the book we’re talking about in this post, we’ll go with whisky, since it’s called “Whisky: The Manual”. It’s pretty evident that we like manuals here at The Manual (just look at our name), and Dave Broom devised one that’s pretty useful for both whisky aficianados and novices alike. Broom spoke to The Manual about creating the book and why we should forget everything we assume about whisky.

Dave Broom  hiresWhy did you decide to create a manual on whisky?

Because no one had written about how to drink whisky. There are great books on history, but they tell you how an industry was formed. There are great books on production, but they just stop at how it is made. There are tasting books, but they tell you what the neat spirit is like. As a result, people remain intimidated by whisky and the rules, which have grown up around it and restricted its enjoyment. In fact when I looked at the real history of how whisky has been drunk, it became obvious that at any point in its 500+ years history when it’s been popular it’s been mixed, drunk long, or flavored.

Showing how whisky can be drunk in many ways — with mixers, in cocktails and punches (and neat) opens up new possibilities for the drink, it brings in new drinkers, it widens the occasions when you can enjoy whisky.

Everyone seems to be drinking whisky these days, whether in a Manhattan or straight up. Why is it so popular?

People are looking for flavor — be that in food, wine, or white spirits. Look at the renaissance of gin. They are also looking for drinks which are real and not contrived. Whisky has heritage, provenance, it is rooted in place and is made by real people — and it tastes great!

What are the biggest myths about whisky?

That it’s a drink for men of a certain age, to be taken after dinner, and only drunk straight up. This means that young people aren’t allowed to drink it, women aren’t allowed to drink it, that you have to wait until a specific time and occasion to enjoy it, that you will probably grimace when you sip it because it’s strong. Now that, I’d argue, is not a particularly smart way to go about trying to sell something! The other myth is that blends are inferior to single malts. Not true. Whisky is for everyone, it is for every time, it is versatile, it has the widest range of flavours of any aged spirit. There is a whisky out there for you.

What is your favorite whisky and the best way to drink it?

Impossible to say. There’s whisky being made in almost every country in the world these days – a vast range of flavors and styles. It is endlessly fascinating. I am a big fan of the Highball as an aperitif: whisky and soda, or ginger ale. Smoky whiskies with soda are wonderfully refreshing, Irish or Canadian with ginger ale — magnificent. That’s what the book is about; finding new ways to maximize your enjoyment. I tried 102 whiskies five ways. I can’t pick out a favorite from that!

WhiskyTheManualBOOK-40 ratingsWhat has been the most unique whiskey that you’ve discovered and why?

Every distillery is unique. That’s what’s exciting about whisky — a spirit made from cereal and aged in wood – yet there’s a seemingly infinite variety of flavours. Even distilleries next door to each other doing essentially the same thing will make different whiskies. Distillers are using different roasts of barley, different yeasts, different smokes — from woods, to nettles to, believe it or not, sheep dung. They are asking, “what is this thing called whisky?,” and coming up with compelling answers. I genuinely believe that we are living in the most exciting period of whisky’s evolution.

What’s the strangest way you’ve seen it mixed?

I’m pretty open-minded. If it works it works!

What are your whiskey suggestions for someone to get for his girlfriend, mother, father, best friend and boss?

I don’t believe that there is a woman’s palate and a man’s palate. Neither do I believe in crawling to my boss (if I had one) by giving him something expensive. No. The important thing when choosing whisky for someone is finding the tastes and flavors they like.

I know women who love big smoky whiskies, and men who hate them. It is personal. If I suggested that women only like things which are light sweet and pink I’d be murdered!

What I do is ask people what wine they like. Then I’ll find a whisky with a similar flavor profile to that wine — delicate and floral for Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling lovers, buttery for those who like Chardonnay, big and bold for red wine lovers. The book puts whiskies into flavor camps so you can find out the flavors and styles which appeal to you. I’ll think about what time of day it is. If it’s a hot afternoon then I’m going to suggest a highball. If it is after dinner, then something richer with a splash of water.

Free your mind! Reject orthodoxies! Enjoy whisky!

“Whisky: The Manual,” $15.19 at

Editors' Recommendations

Ann Binlot
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ann Binlot is a New York-based freelance writer who contributes to publications like The Economist, Wallpaper*, Monocle…
Theses are the 9 best whiskies under $25 to enjoy in 2023
You can get some quality whiskey without breaking the bank. Here are the brands to look out for and stock your home bar with.
whiskey shot cheers

Whisky is a galaxy full of delicious landing spits and still undiscovered frontiers. Sure, you can shell out an arm and a leg for the stuff, especially if you're a collector or hunting for a rare release. But there's much to enjoy on the bottom shelf too, in the sub-$25 per bottle department.

The best budget whiskey brands are attractive not only because they don't put a huge dent in our bank accounts, but they cover the entire spectrum of the stuff. Turns out, you can get some decent rye, bourbon, Canadian whisky, and more for $25 or less. These are excellent options for home consumption and do well enough to be enjoyed both neat or in something like a Manhattan.

Read more
The Manual predicts 2023’s hottest food trends
Old-school treats and intense flavor explosions are waiting for you in 2023
best dessert recipes stuffed dates toppings  1

While we all love the culinary classics, food trends are fun. They just are. People get a kick out of predicting which fruit will soon get all the attention for its "newfound" magical health wonders or what condiment has been sitting on the shelf for too long and is due for a makeover. Old is new, new is out, up is down, and sweet is sour in the unpredictable world of food trends.
Whole Foods recently released their ever-popular top ten predictions of food trends in 2023, and there are quite a few items we're excited about seeing more of next year. These are a few of our favorites from the Whole Foods list — as well as some of our own.

North America's only native caffeinated plant, Yaupon is a species of holly that's turning heads for its unique flavor when brewed into teas. In-the-know bartenders across the country are even starting to introduce Yaupon cocktails on their menus. Known for its earthy flavor and many possible health benefits, including reduced inflammation and protection against diseases like diabetes, this little plant is sure to shine next year.

Read more
These 2 whiskies go with everything you’re going to serve at Thanksgiving dinner
Add these two whiskeys to your Thanksgiving menu for a happier holiday
Dragon Glassware Diamond Whiskey Glass

Thanksgiving is a day for being with those we love, feasting on delicious food until we can feast no more, and reflecting on the things we are most thankful for. And if whiskey doesn't top your list, we probably shouldn't be friends. While wine and other specialty cocktails (pumpkin martini, anyone?) may be the Thanksgiving drinks that shine at your family's table, there's always a place for whiskey. Surprisingly, this beautiful brown liquor pairs perfectly with many traditional Thanksgiving foods with its complex, well-rounded flavors. So in your holiday preparations, be sure to pick up a few bottles of these perfect whiskeys for Thanksgiving dinner.

It's difficult to narrow our selections down to two, but we understand that a full whiskey bar at Thanksgiving may not be the new tradition you want to start this year... though, it sounds like a perfectly reasonable (and spectacular) custom to us.

Read more