"The Whiskies of Scotland, Encounters of a Connoisseur" by Michael Jackson is a beautiful and unmissable book about Scotland, its distilleries, and the whiskies they produce. The book was first published in 2001, and we should be grateful that it has returned to print in an updated edition. The late, great, Michael Jackson was, until his untimely death at the age of 65 in 2007, the world's best selling author on whisky. He won many awards for his books, his journalism and his television programmes about whisky, and there can be few whisky enthusiasts who do not have one or more of Michael Jackson's books on their bookshelf.
This book shows why Michael Jackson's writing was, and remains, so widely admired. He is perhaps best known for definitive guides to whiskies: books in which the focus is very much on the bottles and their contents, with background information provided as appropriate about the distilleries in which the whiskies are produced.
"Encounters of a Connoisseur" turns this approach on its head. Chapter by chapter Michael Jackson progresses through individual areas of Scotland, or individual islands. The stories of the whiskies he encounters en route are told as the end point in stories that start with the place in which they are made before covering the distilleries and the factors that makes each distinct. The book is rounded off with an up to date directory of distilleries. Michael Jackson's words are ably illustrated by the excellent photography of Harry Cory Wright which brings to life the landscape of Scotland and the settings of its distilleries in a variety of moods.
The result is a beautiful and lyrical travelogue that leads the reader on a memorable journey around Scotland. It has never been a secret that Michael Jackson was a leading authority on whisky. What comes through in this book is his depth of knowledge about Scotland and, even more compellingly, his love for the country as well as for the products of its distilleries. This book is a fitting epitaph for an outstanding author.