A stagger on the wild side
For the connoisseur of fine spirits, the dabbler of craft brews or the explorer of arcane wine regions, we’ve got a read that’s a cat of a different feather. Twisted like a mixed metaphor, Alt Whiskeys: Alternative Whiskey Recipes and Distilling Techniques for the Adventurous Craft Distiller ($30) offers the experimenting distiller whiskey recipes that step past the fringe. This ain’t your daddy’s liquor — author and cutting-edge distiller Darek Bell, of Corsair Distillery, brings a menu that reads like a PETA luncheon, featuring millet, spelt, quinoa and sorghum, with guest appearances from such ingredients as pumpkin spice, elderflower, and cannabis (hey, if you’re planning on jumping into illegal home distillation, might as well go big).
Unlike home beer brewing or wine making for personal consumption, the illegality of distillation without several federal permits (and potential five years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fine) make the book an academic exercise for most rather than a practical guide. And while the book delves into some of the finer techniques of distilling, a couple important elements are missing, like the importance of maturation or aging and the value of high quality distilling equipment. The first will simply leave you exploring the bite of white dog; the latter, with still explosions or the presence of lead solder in antique stills a very real possibility, can kill you. Regardless, buying the book is cheaper than a trip to Kentucky, and a lot safer if your city-fied manners get you mistaken for a revenuer.