Gin – The Manual
We’ve been looking forward to 2015’s Autumn book launch season for the best part of six months in the knowledge that not one, but five books about gin were due to be released. With established authors to new voices alike, by Christmas there will be more new books on sale about Gin than there are of Scotch Whisky. The latest to be launched – Gin: The Manual – is from the second of those established voices, author Dave Broom.
While there’s nothing wrong with a quick foray into juniper elixirs whilst gallons of malt whisky matures ahead of a new book on the category, much like Buxton’s whisky books, Broom has always achieved the careful mixture of well researched and informative guides. Even a quick glance at any of his books and one can see just how deeply his passion for the spirit imbues his every word.
In doing so Broom has published many books that have cult status and are outstanding in every way. However, after our mixed opinions over Ian Buxton’s 101 Gins To Try Before you Die, whilst we had high hopes that another of our favoured wordsmiths would add new insight, approaching the category from a different perspective but with the same passion, we also hoped that this time it would be a more complete package.
Thankfully, Broom’s new tome Gin: The Manual – is just that. Merging history, practical information, tasting notes on a substantial array of brands as well as a few cocktails, the book is complete and provides a holistic insight into Gin as a spirit. It is an excellent gin book that befits his status as an iconic drinks writer.
Broom’s prose is clear to follow and a careful mix of personal sentiment matched by pragmatic notes which make it easy to relate to. This combination makes it one of the best “general” gin books available to buy, as it is so much more than just naming brands and accompanying them with imagery and basic information.
The history section of any book that wants its focus to be on tasting hundreds of gins in the subsequent chapter is often problematic. 20 pages is a short amount of space to dissect the long and colourful journey gin has taken over the years. However in Gin: The Manual, Broom’s understanding of the important aspects of Gin’s chequered past are well articulated and unlike all those before him, he continually refers back to modern day brands and their historical inspiration. This dual history and modern reference gives the historical tour relevancy and crucially, makes it different to previous novels that go for the tried and tested abridged history section – ultimately providing a fresh perspective on it.
The book also includes a section on how gin is made, what a botanical is and how they impact a gin’s flavour, as well as what the difference between Dutch, London, Scottish, Spanish and American Gins are. All of these factors add depth to the history section while also providing a framework for the gin section, as well as wider context on the category as a whole.
The bulk of the content covers 120 gins which Broom has tested four ways – with tonic, with lemonade, in a negroni and in a martini – and then scored. Additionally, each gin is categorised according to a flavour camp system (floral, spiced, herbal etc), which highlights its core properties and allows you to understand how to drink it best.
The gin brand selection is both far-reaching and inclusive to all styles, with a more global selection than either Buxton’s 101 Gins To Try Before you Die (more British focus) or Aaron Knoll’s Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival (more American focus). The way the tasting notes are formed, articulated and formatted along with how scoring system is evaluated are easy to comprehend and engaging. It makes for a great reference book and the complete nature of both the contents and the brands included mean that it will maintain its credibility for some years to come.
The selection of cocktails with their variants combines just the right amount of cocktails with descriptions and there is a good bibliography to end it all too. We enjoyed this book and will be stocking it in our shop as we feel it has a rich depth of content, well-presented information and adds to the category by providing new insight to the history of gin and where it is as a spirit today. It is an easy one to recommend and one that we would place on our shopping lists this Christmas. Congratulations Dave, a very good book indeed!
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