Book Review: Goodness Nose

goodnessnose_ During May 2010 I visited the Isle of Jura as part of my visit with my father to the Fies Ile festival (as I posted about before – here and here). While visiting the distillery, my father decided to get me a gift from the shop, and had purchased me a book by one Richard Paterson named ‘Goodness Nose’. He also added a personal dedication in it without knowing that five minutes after, we are to meet in person the author of the book himself, who also added his own dedication and signature in the book.

As I returned home to Israel, I decided I must read the book, and started to do so very shortly after my return. Little did I know that it will take me almost a year(!!!) to complete it. First time ever that I read only one book in such a long period of time. However now that I have completed it, just two days before Whisky Live London, I fully understand that this prolonged read was actually a good thing, and I’ll explain this shortly.

Goodness Nose, by Richard Paterson, Whyte&Mackay’s famous master blender, and by Gavin D. Smith, renowned whisky writer and journalist, takes the reader on a journey through the evolution of the Scotch whisky industry entwined together with Richard’s evolution as a master blender.

Taking the reader from his childhood at his father’s bond warehouse, through his whisky disconnected college days and on to his most successful career as a third generation master blender (for over 40 years now), Richard shares his enthusiasm and love of whisky.

Richard, who is a also very keen on history, heritage and education, made sure to pass that passion on to the reader with vast amount of historical facts, stories and figures. The reader is guided through the bonnie landscapes of Scotland between various whisky landmarks, introduced to iconic whisky figures whose work and actions forged the whisky industry as we know it today, and is shared private moments and decision junctions in Richard’s life.

It is refreshing and exhilarating to see how devoted and passionate Richard is for just about ALL whiskies, whether crafted by him or not, and to learn how the Scotch whisky industry, in spite of the competition between brands and firms, is basically a very big, warm and supporting family. For one who is part of the IT industry where it’s usually a ‘dog eat dog’ situation, and for one who is drawn and fascinated more and more by whisky, this is an extremely positive input which strengthens my keen on whisky.

I learnt a great deal from this amazing well written book, though found myself on occasions breaking teeth in attempt to pronounce high-level English words chosen by the authors, let alone running to the nearest dictionary. As I returned from Fies Ile, thirsty to learn more about whisky, I embarked on a great journey of my own into its world, and Richard, through the book (twitter, blog, etc.) had been a great companion and teacher in this first part of the journey.

You see, it happens that I got to specific parts in the book just as relevant events were taking place in the whisky industry and in my whisky journey. For instance, as I was introduced to the world of Japanese whiskies, I got to the part in the book were Richard speaks of the cooperation between Whyte&Mackay and Japanese blending market; when Richard celebrated 40 years with Whyte&Mackay few months back, I was just reading about his start there; and when Shackelton’s whisky was making its way to Glasgow to be examined in a lab, I just finished reading how the same process was done with Usher’s and Whyte&Mackay’s rare old blends. So as I was embracing the world of whisky, and introducing my self to it, ‘Goodness Nose’ was there to add yet another angle and additional knowledge.

In summary, ‘Goodness Nose’ is a top read and a must for every whisky enthusiast who is keen to better understand and love this magic we call ‘water of life’. As I was reading it I felt like I was the raw spirit being matured in the whisky industry by a good cask, and I can honestly say now that Richard Paterson is one my my most favoured age blended whiskies.

Goodness Nose (Amazon), Richard Paterson & Gavin D. Smith, 2008. Neil Wilson Publishing.

Thanks for reading.



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