Mark Ridgwell knows and understands spirits well (and we do mean the alcoholic variety). Hardly surprising as he has worked with companies such as Smirnoff, J&B Rare, Hennessy, Canadian Club, Bols, as well as the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.
To be honest this is a book designed possibly more for bar tenders, or wanna be mixologists, who need to know exactly what goes into every bottle behind their bar, than it is for Joe Public.
Having said that, this Joe Public who only has a very rudimentary knowledge of what is involved with only a few spirits, found it an absolutely fascinating book.
One which is difficult to put down it is so full of fascinating snippets of information.
We decided to learn a little about rum. We knew it was made from sugar cane but that was about all.
The chapter on Rum takes us from the Definition of rum; through its History – it dates back thousands of years, the part it played in the slave trade, as well as the Royal Navy.
The book also discusses American prohibition; How rum is made – sections on sugar cane, which Alexander the Great evidently described as a ‘reed which gives honey without the help of bees’, molasses, fermentation and maturation; to its Typical styles.
Not surprisingly there is a good chunk of information on whisky (with or without the ‘e’); also on brandy.
We now know that Tequila is made from the blue agave, a plant of the lily family and that wormwood is used in Absinthe. Did you know that the first record of commercially produced liqueurs was in 1575? And do you know the difference between Genever and Gin? It’s all in Mark’s fascinating book.
Spirits Distilled. Mark Ridgwell. ISBN: 978-1-908984-34-0. £16.99. Infinite Ideas. www.infideas.com
Available on Amazon.