What I Learned Writing A Book


It's more than two years since my book, Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert was released. Since then, on the strength of that book, I have travelled on three continents introducing people to Canada's native spirit. Canadian whisky is experiencing a resurgence and I seem to have become the go-to guy for information about it.

Writing the book was both an exhilarating and a nerve-wracking experience. It was exhilarating to see the project slowly come together, nerve-wracking not knowing how, or if, it would ever be published. And surprisingly, the moment that gave me the most satisfaction was not when I first held the published book in my hands, but when I pushed the send button and the manuscript was on its way to the publisher.

It was my daughter who first suggested that the binders of information about Canadian whisky that I was putting together were the basis for a book. As a member of a whisky collective called the Malt Maniacs, I gathered information about the whisky produced in my Canadian homeland while sipping away on my beloved single malt scotches. Still, the more I dug into old archives, the more I got hooked on the story as I realized that much of what people believed about Canadian whisky simply was not true.For example, Prohibition did not make Canadian whisky the best selling whisky in the US; the Civil War did that three generations earlier. Canadian whisky does not contain neutral spirits as is so commonly believed. And Canada's early whisky makers were not Irish or Scottish, they were from England, Germany and the Netherlands. This was information most whisky lovers had no idea about.  A book on the subject would break new ground. I committed to the project.What followed was seven years of carefully researching, writing and editing my manuscript until it was complete. I learned a lot about whisky in those seven years, and I learned a lot of other things too. Things that warmed my spirit.I learned that most people have very kind hearts. I can't even remember how many strangers went out of their way to help me make links or verify little bits of information. People who had just met me trusted me with original historical documents. Whisky makers who were long retired opened their doors to talk about whisky days gone by, and people in the industry spent hours carefully reading my drafts to make sure I didn't say anything too foolish.Afterwards too, I experienced all kinds of unexpected behavior. Thoughtful, generous friends and acquaintances lined up to buy copies, not because they were interested in whisky, but just to support me. More surprising were the few friends who cajoled for free copies. The publisher had given me twenty copies and these quickly went to the libraries and archives that had helped me, and to my close family. I think people just didn't know that when they asked me for a free book really they were asking me to buy one for them.Then there were the strangers who adopted my book as their cause. One Ottawa whisky fan - someone unknown to me until my book was released - promised me he'd sell 25 copies to his scotch buddies, then arranged several signing appearances where over 100 were sold. We became and remain good friends and dramming buddies. Another, an on-line acquaintance, arranged twitter tastings that helped promote the book for Christmas and Fathers' Day. She too has become a friend.Whisky people are good people, and writing my book has brought me into contact with so many of them. It's gratifying to walk into a bar or bookstore and see my book on the shelf. I am thrilled that the book has helped put Canadian whisky on the connoisseur's radar. But best of all, for me is realizing just how many big-hearted people there are in the world. It's a fun life, the whisky life, and I am grateful to be part of it.Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert is available here on Amazon.