Artisan Spirit: Fall 2021

Page 111

Table 3:

A selection of some historically important distilling-related texts

Author (publication year)


Shannon, R. (1805)

A Practical Treatise on Brewing, Distilling and Rectification

Freely available online

Duplais, P. (1871)

A Treatise on the Manufacture and Distillation of Alcoholic Liquors (English translation)

Facsimile copies available

Barnard, A. (1887)

The Whisky Distilleries of the UK

Valuable historical resource. Some excellent facsimiles available

Lancaster, H. (1908)

Practical Floor Malting

Reprinted by White Mule Press

Stopes, H. (1885)

Malt and Malting

Highly detailed volume, focused on beer production

Nettleton, J.A. (1913)

The Manufacture of Whisky and Plain Spirit

Reproduced by Craft Expressions in 2009

In academic terms the highest level of information sources is considered to be peer-reviewed papers. The authors of peer-reviewed papers must submit their papers to a journal of their choice, and the editor then circulates the paper to peers familiar with the subject matter for opinion and review. In this way, the hope and expectation is that inaccuracies and personal bias can be eliminated. It is not perfect, as demonstrated by the publication of Fleischman and Pons’ cold fusion paper in Nature, one of the most respected scientific journals worldwide and which required Nature to publish an eventual public retraction. For distillers there are few peer-reviewed journals available, although the Journal of the Institute of Brewing, established in 1887 as Transactions of the Laboratory Club, has historically carried distilling papers (the Institute of Brewing and Distilling have generously scanned and uploaded all of their papers freely available online at loi/20500416). The American Society of Brewing Chemists is also developing an interest in publishing papers focused on distilling. The newly-formed Society for Distilling Science and Technology (SDST) is, though, about to launch a dedicated journal, the Journal of Distilling Science, as perhaps the first journal dedicated to peer-reviewed, distilling-related research. Beyond these three journals, distilling-related papers can be found in other cognate journals, such as the Journal of Agricultural and Food Sciences, sensory journals such as Food Quality and Preference, and other subject-specific journals that focus on specific disciplines such as microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry and chemical engineering. There is a need for caution though. The online world has prompted the growth of online journals and “special editions,” of which many are reputable. However, some of these virtual journals can be unclear as



to their publication policy and can carry hefty charges to publish, so caveat emptor. However, good quality information is not the exclusive preserve of peer-reviewed journals. Many conferences and symposia publish papers presented in the form of proceedings or monographs, with submitted papers often subjected to editing rather than peer-review. While this might indicate information of lesser quality, monographs can be valuable resources, and the papers can be of peer-reviewed quality. The list in Table 1 of distilling monographs is not extensive but they can be challenging to acquire. A book is distinct from a monograph in that it contains information that was generally known before and can therefore be considered to be a secondary source. For instance the information may have been derived from peer-reviewed papers and so book content has undergone additional interpretation by the book author. The tone of books can vary widely, from erudite treatises such as Sarah Bowen’s “Divided Spirits — Tequila, Mezcal and the Politics of Production,” to the highly readable Ian Buxton texts such as “101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die.” Whilst not exhaustive, the list in Table 2 indicates some important contemporary distilling-focused texts. We should not ignore more venerable texts, which have become much more accessible as libraries and other organizations increasingly digitize their collections. Additionally, as these texts are out of copyright, increasing numbers of reprints are found for sale online. The quality can be poor but there are exceptions, such as Ian Buxton’s opulent reproduction of the historically important Nettleton tome “The Manufacture of Whisky and Plain Spirit” and the reproduction of Lancaster’s “Practical Floor Malting” by White Mule Press (Table 3).