Distiller magazine

Distiller_winter_2015/16

Distiller magazine a publication of the American Distilling Institute, the Voice of Artisan Distilling; devoted to the craft spirits industry: vendors and distillers alike.

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WINTER 2015-16 distiller 137 I f there ever was a page-turner in the field of spirits books, Matthew Rowley's Lost Recipes of Prohibition is it. e sleuth work involved in not only understanding the recipes, but the life of Victor Lyon—the original author of a found notebook—and the reason behind the notebook's disguised and secretive existence, left me hungry for more every time I had to put it down. And I often found myself thinking about the book when I was away. Lyon is a person for whom no known photograph exists, and the notebook itself bears the cover of an obscure volume of poetry by a banned author whom Rowley describes as a "venom-bloated toad of treason." e unraveling of the story is both fascinating in its details and revealing to anyone who may struggle with the strange mixtures of English, German, French and Latin—all required to decipher apothecary texts and antique spirits recipes. e book describes the devious and sometimes poisonous techniques that bootleggers used to stretch out an insufficient supply of a spirit, or to counterfeit gin, whiskey, rum, brandy, cider, wine, absinthe and cordials out of neutral spirits. Many of the recipes hold secrets still in use by some of the finest producers of spirits today. Lyon also sprinkled the original notebook with recipes for many of the classic cocktails that have seen a revival in recent years. Rowley provides generous doses of these recipes, updated to fit modern ingredients and 21st century liquor brands. e pages are beautifully interspersed with scans of the original notebook, old advertisements, prescriptions, postcards and some notes from the author, which sometimes imply "Children, don't try this at home." Lost Recipes of Prohibition is a delightful read that also serves as a valuable reference into obscure methods of flavor creation and the dark side of spirits history. AF Lost Recipes of Prohibition: Notes from a Bottleggers Manual Matthew Rowley Countryman Press, 2015 256 pages ISBN 9781581572650 $27.95 H enry H. Work is an American cooper currently living in New Zealand. He learned his craft in California's Napa Valley and continued its application in Kentucky's bourbon country. Wood, Whiskey and Wine is an interesting read full of fascinating information, not all of which feels necessary or completely believable. In 14 chapters, Work covers the history of containers for bulk goods from 1800 BCE to the present. e chapters generally flow chronologically from the Celtic origin of the barrel, its Roman adoption, and spread across the Mediterranean world, becoming the Western world's most popular container for intra- and international trade. Wood, Whiskey and Wine succeeds in telling the stories of wooden barrels and how their construction and use impacted the economic, environmental, labor and cultural histories of the Western world. Work describes how the Celts invented the wooden barrel through a unique nexus of iron tools, wood working skills, abundance of oak and a love of wine. Since its invention 2000 years ago, the basic design of the barrel largely remains unchanged, due to its utility for wet and dry goods, as well as its relative ease of movement. While the title of the book focuses the reader's attention on symbiotic relationship of barrels and alcoholic beverages, Work devotes considerable space to explaining the important roles barrels played in facilitating exploration and the exploitation of whale oil and crude oil for the world's energy needs. In the end, Wood, Whiskey and Wine struggles for cohesion. Its scope and structure are too broad for a single narrative thread to carry through. Work's detours on the Roman amphora, the adventures of Captain Cook, and description of 19th century whaling practices are more a distraction than a vital part of the narrative. Work closes the book as a lament for the former glory days of the barrel, which is both a depressing and confusing way to end the book. Despite being published in 2014, Work seems ignorant of the growing demand for barrels by wineries, breweries and distilleries. ere seems to be reason for hope and excitement for the future of barrels in the craft beverage industry, which both sustains their utility and their mystique. EZ Wood, Whiskey and Wine: A History of Barrels Henry H. Work London: Reaktion Books, 2014 224 pages ISBN 9781780233567 $35.00

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