Book review: The Way of Whisky by Dave Broom

What’s the story?

An art long ago imported from Scotland, Japanese whisky is nonetheless the expression of a particular culture and a profoundly different approach to life and creation. In The Way of Whisky, Dave Broom leads us through the past, present and future of whisky in the land of the rising sun. The book goes far beyond the mere display of distilleries and their products: in this personal journey, the author, who has been exploring the Japanese whisky scene for some 20 years, unveils the links between whisky-making and the Japanese interpretation of it. Through the pages of this immersive guide, we are taken through the distilleries lost amid ancient forests, meeting the people that make the spirit flow and the traditions surrounding the production itself. The forensic attention to details, the respect for nature and the unequalled ability to connect tradition and modern techniques all come together in this beautifully designed volume.


A travel diary, a tasting guide, an anthropologic essay: the book revolves around the whisky industry but takes a step forward from it. It builds in a fascinating way the story of an industry and its visceral bond with the country’s cultural and philosophical background. The flow of the seasons, the attention to each tiny detail, the balance in the forces that drive the world reflecting in the different ways we perceive reality across different cultures. The exquisite photographic essay by Kohei Take that accompanies the travel journal enriches the volume and contributes in absorbing the reader into the forests, the streams, the bar life of the various cities and towns scattered all over the archipelago.


Although it could still be considered a niche-sector in the wider whisky market, the popularity of the Japanese spirit is fast growing and more and more people would be tempted to taste the drams coming from the Far East. The book itself is easily readable by different levels of knowledge, however, the absolute beginner might find it difficult at a first glance to navigate through the distillery terminology. On the other hand, not being focused uniquely on the production, it can still be an enjoyable travel read.


The Way of Whisky would make the joy of anyone with an interest in whisky, not necessarily being an expert and, at the same time, it can be read as a compelling travel journal, a sneak peak on an aspect of the Japanese from an original angle. Whisky terminology can be a touch difficult to follow for those completely unaware of that but ultimately anyone who enjoys exploring another culture, especially through its tastes, smells and colours, as well as the philosophy behind it, would love with this book. If you are fond of coffee-table volumes this would be a worthy addition to your collection.

Click below to read a sample couple of pages



Beautifully written and engaging from the very first lines, this is a little gem to have on your shelves (and, why not, maybe next to your malt’s trophy case). A captivating pace takes us from northern Hokkaido to Akashi ‘s White Oak distillery in the South West, and it benefits from the intercuts with interviews, topic focuses and explanatory sections that makes it effortless to flow through its pages, Its variety and range of subjects giving so much more than a usual whisky book, depicting a 360 round image of the ‘Whisky-dō’.

The Way of Whisky: A Journey Around Japanese Whisky by Dave Broom, published by Mitchell Beazley, £40.00 (

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