Und was sagt die Autorin selbst über ihr Buch:
The Scottish Whisky Distilleries - for the whisky enthusiast by Misako Udo (Distillery Cat Publishing) 2005
At first glance "The Scottish Whisky Distilleries - for the whisky enthusiast" may seem to be a boring impenetrable work, having no photographs or diagrams and very little prose. On further inspection though, it becomes clear to the aficionado that this is the most thorough, comprehensive guide to Scotland 's distilleries ever published.
Each and every distillery that there is any record of at all is entered in the 472 pages. There are over 600 lost distilleries included, along with every distillery producing today and miriad distilleries of intermediate status (mothballed etc). In each entry are many subheadings giving the histories, and full technical specifications, along with information on everything from the pronunciation and meaning of the names to area definitions and architecture.
As many readers know, there have been hundreds of blends produced over the years and any particular blend may have been available in only a few countries, designed to appeal to local taste. This makes the "Blends Contributed to" subheading very interesting. The "Brand Names" and "Other Unofficial Brand Names" subheadings, along with the " Official Single Malt Range " lists are very useful to collectors for quick and reliable information on a whisky's origin.
The first section in the book, prosaically titled "Notes on Use", is extremely valuable, an eye opener to the true complexities of distilling our beloved dram! The unrelenting commitment shown by Misako to address the grey area of nomenclature and definitions within the distilling process is admirable, giving the reader the opportunity to compare any distilleries they like, individual detail for individual detail. Whisky industry professionals find the book invaluable in their everyday work, as do tasters using it for research and even at tasting events for answering unexpected questions.
Having worked for nearly twenty years guiding Japanese tourists around Scotland 's distilleries, Misako very quickly grew tired of carrying with her the dozen or so heavy books needed to answer the detailed questions she learned to expect from her enthusiastic clients. As a result she commenced assembling her own notes on each distillery.
These rapidly expanded, even becoming useful to some distilleries in-house guides, such was their accuracy and clarity. Even so, she waited year after year for a book to appear giving such comprehensive information on all the distilleries. She waited in vain and eventually realised, encouraged by friends, that she might as well take a couple of years off guiding and write the much needed tome herself. As it says on the cover this work is "for the whisky enthusiast" and unwilling to compromise on detail, Misako asks any readers who are aware of errors or omissions to contact her by e-mail to let her know. She feels strongly that the collective knowledge within the whisky community should be brought together to enhance our understanding of all the past (and present) distilling processes. Much knowledge of the past has now been lost, because it was never gathered and never valued. She hopes that will not happen any more, and that her book is just one vehicle to retain that knowledge.
As to why this book has been written by a Japanese woman rather than a Scottish man, there are many possible reasons, some more palatable than others. Are Scottish whisky writers too poetic and literary by inclination? We all know how much we enjoy the purple prose of the Scots who wax so lyrical about their national drink. Perhaps we benefit here from English (and Scots!) not being Misako's first language; she finds it easier to write of technicalities and facts rather than the misty glens or "the haar blawin in ower Leith ", and much work was required of her editor as the book developed.
One thing though, is certain, Misako absolutely refuses to show favouritism for any single malt, "They are like children" she says, "if you only have one child, you could go through life thinking that every child was the same, but as soon as you have a second, or a third, you realise that they are all distinctive with their own individuality. If someone asked you which child is your favourite, you cannot say, because they are all different." She is passionate about her subject holding the distillery workers, owners and all seekers after whisky knowledge in great respect. It may partly be in her Japanese heritage, in which comprehensive thoroughness and true respect for greatness are second nature, that we see some of the reasons for her obsession. Driven to come to Scotland after tasting her first whiskies in Japan , Misako travelled a long, lonely road, arriving in the country with no knowledge of English and no personal contacts. She did settle though, finding the Scots welcoming and friendly, appreciative of her love of their ways and their culture, eventually even taking full citizenship.
We, Misako's fellow whisky lovers can feel some responsibility for this great work of hers. It was her finding friendship, support and encouragement in the world of whisky enthusiasts that helped her continue with the writing of the book when it seemed such an endless, unforgiving task. And it is in the world wide community of enthusiasts that she finds continued support for her ongoing researches. From the hidden glens out across the world Misako demonstrates the power of Uisgé Beatha in all its subtle art and inspirational nature.
Despite its lack of poetic word play this work is essential for building and whisky library. In laying down so thoroughly the past, present and future history of the Scottish whisky distilleries Misako has done us, continues to do us, a great seruice, long may it continue.