I am not often excited about a new book, but this book is a very exciting new release. I don’t think I have ever met Carlo DeVito in person, but I have emailed with him many times as he researched this book. It is a huge volume that covers everything about rye whiskey from not only the United States, but also Canada. I am sure this will be a reference book for my library that will get a lot of use.
The Spirit of Rye: Over 400 Expressions to Celebrate the Rye Revival, Carlo DeVito, Kennebunkport, Maine: Cider Mill Press Book Publishers, 2021. Contents, Introduction, Illustrated. 655 pp.
The Spirit of Rye is a very ambitious book by Carlo DeVito. He has spent time researching the history and the production of rye whiskey in the United States and Canada. In addition, DeVito has tasted and published tasting notes for over 400 rye whiskey expressions.
He has organized the tastings by region – Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, West, and Canada. These regions are then broken down by state or province. Once in a state or province, the distilleries are listed in alphabetical order. Each distillery gets a brief description as to where it is located and notes of interest, followed by the tasting notes for each of their rye whiskeys. He does not rate the whiskeys.
The book is very attractive and could serve as a coffee table book, but it is so much more. It is well illustrated with many color photographs from distilleries, their bottles and advertisements, both old and new. The one thing the book is missing is an index. In a book this large, over six hundred pages, an index is really needed to find specific points of information. The book could also use a bibliography of his sources of information.
Despite the lack of an index or bibliography, this book is a reference book that will be utilized by both whiskey drinkers and historians. His chapter on the history of rye is over sixty pages long and well researched. He follows that with ten pages about rye grains and another twenty pages on the distillation of rye whiskey. The other five hundred pages plus, are dedicated to the tasting notes of rye whiskey. When possible, he includes the mash bill of the whiskey. He also has many side bars that tell the stories of people involved in the rye whiskey brands, both past and present.
The Spirit of Rye is a book that should be part of every spirits library. It has value and interest to both the rye whiskey scholar and the casual drinker. It can be cumbersome to find specific bits of information, but the search can be well worth the time and may reveal something you did not even realize you were looking for at the time. A book worth owning.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller