Lonely Planet’s Global Distillery Tour is a concise guidebook that highlights some of the more interesting distilleries around the world you may want to add to your to-visit list.
Once in a while there’d be a book or two that hit the shelves that’ll catch our attention. This time it’s Lonely Planet’s Global Distillery Tour, a relatively modest 260-page tome – considering the breadth of the topic it attempts to cover – highlighting many distilling operations across some 33 countries.
I’m sure we are all rather familiar with Lonely Planet; the world’s supposed leading authority on travel seldom steers us wrong when it comes to visiting exotic new places or trying unusual cuisines. For this book though, it attempts to feature some of the best distilleries and bars around the world, covering different spirits from gin, bourbon and whisky to vodka, cachaca, sochu, tequila and more.
It’s not the most comprehensive of compendiums, but to be fair that would have been a near impossible task. After all Scotland alone has over 120 distilleries – and deserves a book or five all on its own – but only around 15 is featured here (although some of our favourites, such as The Macallan’s spanking new distillery, and the more traditional Glenfiddich, make their representation).
We’re glad to see Asia get its due mention too, and to a certain extent Australia and New Zealand, even if we’ve personally not been to any distilleries in the latter two countries. Japan gets the bulk of the Asia focus – and probably rightly so thanks to its long history of making sochu – and then becoming a global giant with its Japan-made whiskies. Beam Suntory’s iconic Yamazaki distillery just outside of Osaka, of course, gets mentioned, along with Nikka’s Yoichi on Hokkaido, but so does Japan’s third oldest whisky producer Mars with its Kagoshima, Kyushu-based Tsunuki distillery.
As for the rest of Asia, Thailand’s Bangkok-based gin maker Iron Balls gets on the list, but bizarrely so does Kuala Lumpur’s PS150. The cocktail bar does peddle tipples made with tuak, a coconut-based spirit it gets from Borneo, but they are a curious addition since they don’t do any distilling themselves.
Alas Singapore does not get in with an entry where a distillery is concerned – we suspect mainly because gin makers Brass Lion was not quite officially launched when the editors were doing their round-up – but hopefully they will in the next edition. But we do feature in its world’s top ten cocktail bars roundup, with award-winning Native getting into that list.
For avid travellers new to the world of spirits, Lonely Planet’s Global Distillery Tour is a great spring board to discovering different types of distilled products from across the globe. If nothing else, the book makes a great checklist for those of us who are spirits-crazy and often visit a distillery or two during our overseas escapades.