The Gin dictionary: An A-Z of All Things Gin, from Juniper Berries to the G & T

David T. Smith

London: Mitchell Beazley, 2018

ISBN: 9781784723989

256 pages; Hardcover


David T. Smith has written four books on gin, is the author of the gin blog Summer Fruit Cup and has contributed numerous articles on gin history, production and cocktails. In addition, Smith has taught numerous gin classes and seminars and consulted for several brands. The Gin Dictionary: An A-Z of Gin, explaining everything you need to know about this stylish spirit, is Smith’s fifth book and an encapsulation of his deep passion and knowledge of all things gin.

As the title suggests, the book is a dictionary about gin, organized alphabetically and covering botanicals, gin brands, chemical compounds found in gin, cocktails, cocktail ingredients, flavor profiles, gin styles, history and production, as well as mixology terms and practices. The book is very thorough in its scope. Physically it is lovely with a well-textured hard cover and simple illustrations that support the content of the book. Physical appearance aside, The Gin Dictionary is a fantastic reference book for complete beginners and for experts.

For gin distillers, The Gin Dictionary can be both an excellent reference book and a potential item to sell to your guests in tasting rooms. The book contains about 200 entries, which in the distillery can be a good source of inspiration to experiment with different production techniques or potential botanicals to add to a gin recipe. In the tasting room, The Gin Dictionary can be an excellent tool to educate your staff and your customers. Craft distillers have endless stories about how their gin has converted once gun-shy customers to gin drinkers. Offering The Gin Dictionary at retail can continue their gin education once they leave, which benefits everyone because educated gin drinkers are likely to return to premium and craft gins for their next purchase.    EZ

Rum Curious: The Indispensable Tasting Guide to the World’s Spirit

Fred Minnick

Minneapolis: Voyager Press, 2017

ISBN: 9780760351734

240 pages


Fred Minnick is the author of seven books, three of which are about whiskey and the history of bourbon. His book Whiskey Women earned a gold medal at the Foreword Reviews Book Awards and a silver at the Indie Publisher Awards. Minnick serves as a judge for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the World Whiskies Awards. Minnick is also an Iraq War veteran who served as a U.S. Army public affairs photojournalist.

Rum Curious: The Indispensable Tasting Guide to the World’s Spirit is the first Minnick has written on the world’s best-known cane spirit. The book is meant as a consumer introduction to the history of rum, how it is made, the laws that govern rum, production information about several unaged, aged, and flavored rums as well as recipes for well-known rum cocktails. Overall, the book provides good information and it is interesting to see ABV levels coming off the still and going into the barrel for a wide array of brands.

Minnick also joins the chorus of rum enthusiasts and experts advocating for a shift in the language that describes rum. For a long time, rum has been described simply by color: white, gold and dark. However, a new movement is advancing the idea that rum categories, similarly to Scotch, should be labeled by production methods, pot still, pot-column still and column still rum to clue the drinker into the flavor intensity of the spirit versus the color, which can be manipulated with the addition of caramel coloring and has no relationship to age or intensity of flavor. This is an important conversation for U.S. craft distillers to join. The U.S. rum market is dominated by Bacardí and Captain Morgan; if small producers hope to shift the tide in their favor, it will be necessary to adopt common terminology.    EZ