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More than a century has now elapsed since J. A. Nettleton published his magisterial The Manufacture of Whisky & Plain Spirit, a comprehensive survey that remained the standard work for many subsequent decades. All who work in this field are conscious of his shadow.

Since then, there have been only two significant texts of note on this important subject, both of which are now out of print – and prohibitively expensive where they can be found. However, in any event, the world of whisky has evolved in remarkable and unexpected ways over the ten years since the last major reference work (Whisky: Technology, Production and Marketing, ed. Inge Russell, 2003) appeared.

In that time, whisky has refreshed its appeal to a new generation of young consumers who had previously rejected it in favour of other distilled spirits; Scotch whisky producers in particular have embarked on the largest expansion of production seen in living memory; a burgeoning craft distilling sector has emerged, challenging many industry orthodoxies and innovating to spectacular effect and scientific knowledge about the processes underlying distilling and maturation has greatly increased.

With all that in mind we felt that a fresh look at the subject was timely. Moreover, we sought to place the subject in a historical and cultural context, without which we believed whisky's richness and depth could not be fully appreciated. The Science and Commerce of Whisky is thus an attempt to revisit old ground and to offer new perspectives.

As the poet would have it “Take off your dram!”

Paul S. Hughes andIan Buxton

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