Single Minded 2013 - The Book

Eight years ago, Johanna Ngoh founded the popular Spirit of Toronto whisky show, held each May at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. And back in 2002 she began publishing a whisky newsletter, a fanzine really, called Single Minded™. Although there hasn't been a new issue for several years, Single Minded™ is now back as Johanna's full-colour, annual guide to really good whisky.The pocket-sized, 78-page book is geared as much towards people who are relatively new to whisky as it is towards those who have been drinking it for some time but may have forgotten to "stop and smell the heather" as they race from one limited edition to the next. It's the Alberta Premium Dark Horse of whisky books, if you like: a new approach, hugely flavourful, fun, and, at $15.00, not too hard on the pocketbook.“It's something I'd had in the back of my head for some time, mostly in reaction to the super premium direction the market has been moving in. I even started out my masterclass at last year's show with a blind tasting of Dewar's White Label just to make the point that good whisky is closer at hand than you might imagine.”“I think what nailed it was a discussion a group of us had at a bar this fall where we were comparing notes about what was on offer at Whisky Live Paris. As someone put it the general consensus was ‘a lot of average whisky, very few outstanding ones,’ and then we went on to kvetch about how the whisky was getting younger and younger, and not much impressed us anymore.”“Looking over I saw a good friend in the industry who had just put together an amazing blend with some rather young whisky. I thought ‘What the hell are we talking about?’ It dawned on me that while we were dismissing the quality of the premium offerings, we were also overlooking that there was a lot of really good whisky to be had at the low to mid range of the spectrum. When I got back I started going through my notes over the past couple of years and combing through our shelves to see what a more realistic, everyday drinking library looked like.”The selection for 2013 includes single malt Scotch, blends and blended malts, as well as whisky from the United States, Canada, and Ireland, all of which Johanna purchased herself.“I’ve limited myself to writing about what I buy because using my own pocketbook allows me to make a recommendation based on the value of a whisky relative to other products on the market. It also provides me with a full bottle to sample at different times of day and in different moods. This is important because whisky is a subjective taste experience and not all whiskies suit all times and places.”Excerpt—“This is a modest guide for two reasons: there are but a couple of dozen bottles, plenty to stock an intelligent whisky library meant for personal enjoyment rather than collecting or impressing. And most of what I pour for myself clocks in at under $100, although I’ve included some splurges for those times when your wallet is feeling particularly heavy.”“With so many collectibles and limited editions flooding the marketplace, it’s sometimes easy to forget that whisky was conceived as an ordinary indulgence for the Everyman by farmers and pioneers, meant to fortify the constitution, warm the innards and nourish the soul. We’ve become so obsessed with the penultimate that we dismiss the satisfaction and pleasure of that which is readily available and priced within reach.”Hear hear!Available now at for just $15.00.