An interview/review for 7 Lessons on Irish Whiskey…

(7 Lessons On Irish Whiskey, 27Press, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9887705-2-2)

I don’t usually write about commercial products, but what 27Press offers is more services than products.  Moreover, one needs to take a break from the seriousness of this blog’s op-eds from time to time.  Not that Irish whiskey isn’t serious…it’s serious fun to be had, although only legal fun for those over twenty-one.  If you’re under twenty-one, keep on reading, but don’t imbibe until you’ve reached that ripe old age.  (That ends my legal responsibility, I believe.  I know, how do you tell that to a U.S. marine who’s eighteen and fighting for his country, for example?  Seems unfair, but who said life is fair?)  Also, if you’re over twenty-one, explore Irish whiskey responsibly.  You’ll appreciate it better, in fact, if you have a clear head, clear from both the alcohol and any cold or flu viruses, in order to appreciate both nose and flavors.

David J. Kosmider, founder of 27Press, was kind enough to point out this little book to me.  At the time he did so, it was one of those KDP Select give-aways, but I waited too long and paid (oh!  The horror of it!) $0.99.  It’s well worth it at that price too.  Maybe not quite the bargain as my YA sci-fi thriller The Secret Lab or detective anthology Pop Two Antacids and Have Some Java, but we’re talking $1 here, folks—let’s not quibble.  The swill sold by Starbucks will set you back more (“swill” is just my opinion, of course—some people like it, both the traditional and the watered-down “blonde” version).  By the way, 10% of all author royalties are donated to non-profit organizations.  What a great idea!

David has provided more information about 27Press and himself (this is the interview part): “The actual content of the book’s a collaborate effort between myself, several professional writers and editors, and several Irish Whiskey experts and enthusiasts. So what we’re doing with 27Press is working to create really good, interesting, short, information-dense, and inexpensive beginners’ guides on a variety of topics, and then through the online resources guide, provide readers with good places where they can continue to learn more about the topic and buy the best products related to the topic.

“For my personal experience with whiskey: I went through bartending school several years ago just for fun—just to learn about the different liquors, and drinks, and how to make them correctly, and I’ve been trying to continually learn more ever since. I live in Louisville now, so there’s a lot of good bourbon around here and people making good drinks with bourbon. As far as Irish Whiskey goes, I’ve always liked Jameson and I’ve always been interested in Irish history (my great grandparents were from Ireland), so I thought this would be a great topic for our second 27Press book. I have tried almost every Irish Whiskey available while working on this book and I came to really like Redbreast the most—for the story and the history behind it, but also the flavor, of course.”

I don’t know whether David was born in Kentucky or not, and I don’t know if he’s an Ashley Judd or Mitch McConnell fan, but he’s approached treason and sedition by rebelling against Kentucky bourbon and pushing Irish whiskey.  Vive la révolution!  (I understand he is working on a bourbon book for all you bourbon lovers, though.)  Readers of this blog know my sentiments.  One of the Irish sayings that accompany some of the chapter headings seems to state the case clearly: “God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn’t rule the world!”  It’s possible that Cromwell invented this saying so his soldiers would think the Irish soldiers were pushovers.  It took the Irish a few more years and the likes of Michael Collins and his buddies, but they finally taught the Brits that uisce beatha is the petrol that moves the rebellion, not the soporific.

So, let’s make this interview/review short.  Among whiskeys that dominate the American market—bourbon, Scotch, and Irish—Irish whiskey is the finest you can buy on a dollar per dollar basis.  Yeah, I’m biased, but if you haven’t tried all three, I’m not listening to your complaints and criticisms.  Most Irish whiskey is thrice-distilled, Scotch twice, and bourbon once.  Most Irish whiskey is aged in old wine or sherry barrels.  And most Irish whiskey doesn’t use smoldering peat to add any smokey barbecued flavor to the whiskey like Scotch does.  In fact, I tend to avoid the Irish whiskeys that break these rules.  I also drink it neat, and not in great slurps—it’s like a fine cognac or brandy.  In fact, you can use a brandy glass.  I don’t bother.  The nose and flavors come through in an ordinary whiskey glass just fine.

You learn about these things and many others in this little book.  You also learn about some of whiskey’s history in Ireland.  It’s often said that Irish monks saved Western civilization during the Middle Ages.  One important aspect of that was distilling whiskey, although scholars probably emphasize more the preservation of the classics that would have been torched by Vikings and other hordes invading Europe and the British Isles.

I always find it curious how often strong spirits in ancient tongues are described as some form of water.  Uisce beatha (blessed water) in Irish Gaelic is an example.  Aguardiente (burning water) in Colombian Spanish is another.  I’ll ask readers to write in with other examples.  I’d like to collect them as proof (pardon the pun) that humanity has had its priorities straight for many centuries.  We’ve had that common cultural bond.  Groups that try to destroy it—via religion, like the Muslims, or via other idiots trying to impose their strict morality on others, like American Prohibition—tend to disappear into the pages of history dedicated to unintended consequences.  For example, I have yet to meet a parish priest that I liked who didn’t enjoy an after-dinner drink and cigar, in spite of the Puritanical Blue Laws that still remain on the books here in the States.  (To be fair, smoking is proven to be bad for you, but a finger of good Irish whiskey is proven to be good for you.)

In this book, you also learn about the main Irish distilleries—New Midleton (the Jameson group, including Jameson’s, Paddy’s and Powers’), Old Bushmills (Bushmills’, Irishman 70), Cooley, and Kilbeggan.  For the weak-kneed, there is a discussion of mixed drinks (summary: substitute Irish whiskey everywhere your recipe calls for bourbon or Scotch).  For the hoity-toity, the book explains how to set up whiskey tastings and other events (sounds a bit too British for my tastes).  As a bonus lesson, there’s an explanation of Poitín, the Irish equivalent of moonshine.

I found this little book very enjoyable.  You will too.  (I can’t vouch for the claim of being able to read it in less than an hour, though.  I accompanied my reading with a wee bit o’ Jameson’s—time flies when you’re having fun.)  The 27Press website continues the conversation about Irish whiskey and provides periodic updates.  Sláinte.

In libris libertas….

[If you enjoyed this post, support this blog: buy, read, and review some of my books.]

Comments are closed.