Kindred Spirits 2: 2,400 Reviews of Whiskey, Brandy, Vodka, Tequilla, Rum, Gin, and Liqueurs from F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal 2000-2007 (Anglais) Broché – 1 février 2008
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It's ridiculously ambitious to attempt a book that reviews the full spectrum of spirits spanning whiskey (scotch, irish, bourbon, rye and more), brandy (cognac, armagnac and much more), vodka, tequila, rum, gin, grappa, cachaça, slivovitz, eau de vie, and liqueurs - but "Kindred Spirits 2" does a credible job. The VAST majority of spirits I know are included. It's virtually impossible to be completely comprehensive, however, and I noticed a few omissions such as Jägermeister, Sortilege (an obscure but amazing maple liqueur from Quebec), and some manner of Kummel Caraway. There seems to be only a single listing for an Akvavit (but it's a cracker). All the Springbank malts are covered, except the 21, my personal favorite. You could nit pick any attempt. However, the deep strength overall more than compensates. The reviewed selections are eclectic - highbrow and lowbrow. There are many single cask and limited editions included - as well as standards and classics. The vast breadth makes for both interesting reading and a definitive reference. In addition to the listings of reviews there are brief section introductions that orient the reader, a brief FAQ (Appendix A:) and a listing of the authors 111 favorite spirits regardless of type (Appendix B:). Appendix B: is the only place where Mr. Pacult ranks hierarchically within a given star level. This is the land of the 5 stars and they're all great - but Pacult takes a stand on which is better than which. This is a lot of fun - but it's the most slippery ground and it's here that I find I disagree with him most - but it's a happy disagreement. Everything on this list is KILLER. Degrees of love is a happy debate.
The real power and magic of this book comes in discovering these highest rated five star gems. I recently attended a tasting of the top ten from Appendix B: and found the experience utterly astounding. Virtually every selection was revelatory and blew away my preconceptions of what these various types of spirits were (e.g. the bourbon tasted so good it almost wasn't recognizable as bourbon - don't even get me started on the Rum Agricole - an amazing variant I had never even heard of). The flavors were huge and complex - transcending expectations. Mr. Pacult's taste preferences emerged - sweetness, purity, floral and citrus notes, huge long finishes. I find myself heartily in accord. Incredibly, 6 of the 10 retail for under $100 a bottle. The big lesson of this book is that artistry and genius are not synonymous with rarity and cost. This is a great desk reference - but it can be far more; a gateway to epicurian experience (especially if you have the courage to use it to go beyond your "comfort zone" (i.e. try types you don't normally drink)). Using this book as a guide will save you a ton of money in bad choices. Much more importantly than this, it will expose you to the best spirits the world has to offer - highlight experiences you might otherwise disastrously miss. Many of these lofty spirits will be surprisingly affordable - and many will utterly blow you away. My highest recommendation.
Postscript - 05/18/09. I find that I've picked up some of Pacult's habits when drinking spirits now. Of the greatest value is the insight that the bloom and flavor of many spirits (and particularly my favorite- malt whisky) improves after 5-10 minutes of breathing time in the glass. I used to warm the whiskey in my palm - imagining that it was the warmth that made it taste sweeter and richer. Pacult has taught me that it's the time, not the temperature. His discussions about flavor profiles over time in the glass has made me a wiser drinker and I enjoy my snorts more now than ever now that I know to wait some moments before starting.
For the price of one, certainly two mistakes this book provides the means to avoid those costly mistakes and buying of regrettable bottles.Saves you a lot of money and time trying to find something decent to drink.Paul has sampled all these potions so you don't have to,or I should say so you can focus in on those you want to.While no one will agree with anyone on everything,this is a major body of work that is an invaluable reference on thousands of spirits so you can see what is out there and try them for yourself.
Paul is a highly entertaining and evocative writer,capturing the essence of what he has tasted and reducing it to literary form. A masterwork that is also an entertaining read,it will probably be THE reference for years to come.
I have used individual issues of Spirit Journal (from which the KS2 reviews come) to compare my impressions with Paul's for familiar spirits and to identify some new spirits to try. But the real power of KS2 (as a Spirit Journal review summary) lies in helping readers build better spirit inventories and expand their knowledge of individual spirit categories.
As soon as I received KS2, I went through my personal spirit inventory and identified areas where quality could probably be improved cost-effectively. I bought several new spirits (like a different everyday blended scotch), tasted them side-by-side with my current spirits, and replaced several current spirits. There are also clearcut improvement areas for me in white spirits, cognac, and brandy. These changes will be made easily and quickly, because of the confidence I have in the integrity of Paul's reviews.
KS2 can also be used to develop a better spirit inventory for a public restaurant/bar or a private club. The potential payoff is big. Such a wide-ranging spirit audit and improvement program would not be possible without a resource like KS2.
I found KS2 so useful that I just ordered another copy to give to a very demanding spirit lover as a birthday present. Of course, I renewed my subscription to Spirit Journal so I will be up-to-date until KS3 is published.
His latest work, Kindred Spirits 2 (2008 © Spirits Journal, Inc.), is a tour de force providing a fascinating in-depth look at 2400 brands of whiskey, brandy, vodka, tequila, rum, gin and liqueur. For anyone who has ever sipped, swirled and spat, Kindred Spirits 2 falls somewhere in historical significance between the corkscrew and church key.
After 20 years as the publisher and sole contributor of the esteemed Spirits Journal, Pacult has developed himself into an amazing resource. I've been privileged to have judged spirits with Paul, and I can say without reservation that his talents, capabilities and knowledge are absolutely extraordinary. When a spirit hits the glass, his senses slip into a gear the rest of us don't have. It's as if he becomes one with the alcohol and learns it secrets and hidden talents, as well as its flaws, weaknesses and criminal record.
Pacult understands what distillers were attempting to achieve and whether they did so. His reviews delve into the very heart and soul of the spirit. Not only is he the undisputed authority on the subject of alcohol and distillation, he is an exceptionally gifted writer. His reviews have substance and style; his writing precise and delightfully entertaining, especially since he refuses to equivocate. When Paul doesn't care for a product, he tells you why in no uncertain terms. Simply put, Pacult is in a league of his own.
About the author I can only say this. After 30-years in the business, I've never met an individual with so many reasons to take himself too seriously, but doesn't. His work appears in scores of publications and newspapers around the world, and high among his considerable professional accomplishments, he and Anthony Dais Blue founded the now prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. That Paul is a prince of a human being makes it easy to be an avid fan.
Kindred Spirits 2 may well be the literary buy of the century and is guaranteed to stimulate hair growth and improve ones social status. Kudos Paul.
The reviews are detailed and give Paul's reasons for rating a spirit the way he does. I will use this book as a valuable resource before ever again buying a bottle of Vodka, Gin, Scotch, Bourbon, Rum or Brandy.