The James Beard Foundation is the most distinguished culinary organization in America. The mission statement is simply stated: “To celebrate, preserve, and nurture America's culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence.”
Each year, during The James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony, commendations are presented to the top restaurateurs, chefs, authors, designers, broadcasters, journalists, webmasters, and experts in the world of culinary achievement. American classics are applauded, a select group of professionals are inducted into the Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America, and an award is presented for Lifetime Achievement. Honorees are as diverse as the cultures that create our “melting pot” in America. These prestigious honors are the Academy Awards in the profession of gastronomy.
On Monday, May 8th, 2006 the 16th Annual James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony was held at the Marriott Marquis in New York City, New York, USA with Cokie Roberts as Master of Ceremonies. Privileged attendees could feel the electric scintillation that adrenalized the select group of distinguished nominees and their guests. This year, the New Orleans Restaurant Community received the dignified Humanitarian of the Year Award for their generous outpouring of support to the hurricane-ravaged community in Louisiana. The honors focused on New Orleans' legacy, devastation and rebirth in an inspirational evening that emphasized the celebratory aspects of food in our culture.
In the Book Award: Wine and Spirits division, triumphant accolades were bestowed upon England's Michael Jackson, prestigious beer and world whiskey authority. An esteemed panel of Judges, experts in their profession and recognized by the Foundation Awards Committee, selected Jackson as the recipient of the coveted James Beard Medal for his book, Whiskey, The Definitive World Guide. This was no easy feat in a category that included Richard Juhlin’s book, 4000 Champagnes and Elin McCoy’s work, The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.
As the Bard of Beer and Maven of Malt, Jackson was fittingly dressed in black tux with hand-stitched lapels and neckwear in the Quaich (pronounced “quake”) tartan pattern, celebrating the pageantry of the whiskey industry. As further evidence of his infinite commitment to the noble cause, upon his chest and nearest his heart, he displayed the silver insignia and blue ribbon signifying his rank as Master of the Quaich.
Keepers of the Quaich
Since medieval times, Europeans throughout the United Kingdom and the French-speaking world have celebrated the gallantry associated with true craftsmanship. Guilds and Orders of Knights, particularly in the fields of gastronomy and viniculture, comprised of world authorities in each subject, celebrated their achievements with ceremonial displays of uncompromising pageantry.
In the Fall of 1988, the Scotch Whiskey Industry founded the Keepers of the Quaich, in honor of those world-renowned connoisseurs who had established sterling reputations in the interest of Scotch whisky. Membership in this exclusive society is by invitation only, with “Keepers” inducted in a pompous ceremony at Blair Castle in Scotland.
The symbol of such honor is the Quaich, a shallow, two-handled goblet of silver, used for the ceremonial consumption of whisky. Historical references to the quaich can be traced back to Viking adventurers who used “drinking horns” as goblets. Celtic tribes drank the blood of conquered kings and tribal leaders from such vessels. The Highlanders of Scotland carried a “cuach,” fashioned of wood, in their sporran where it was easily accessible for a restorative dram of Scotch whisky during bitter winter exposure to the elements. Such symbolism, touched with historic significance, embraces the heart and soul of the Keepers of the Quaich.
Connoisseurs of Scotch whisky – producers, marketing professionals, and authors – who are dedicated to the promotion of the prestige and image associated with Scotch whisky, are inducted into the society in a stately ritual and celebratory banquet. Members hail from 54 countries, and are among the most respected Scotch whisky professionals in the world.
Whiskey - The Definitive World Guide
In his book, Whiskey – The Definitive World Guide, Michael Jackson takes you through an exhilarating journey of fascination covering the ingredients, craftsmanship, and world development of whiskey. The crystalline palates of passionate contributors add their expertise to Jackson’s anthology that includes writings on climactic influences, geological and regional imprints on whiskeys, agricultural ingredients, commercial processing, the traditional art and science of distilling, and the art of nosing and tasting.
You are taken on a whirlwind tour into the development of single malt scotch and scotch blends, bourbon, and whiskeys, with styles that span global continents. Explorations of distilled beverages include selected tastings throughout Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the United States, Japan, Europe, Asia and Australasia. These worldwide destinations are brought to life with superb photographic images and extraordinary architectural graphics.
Further exploration into the enjoyment of whiskey includes whiskey cocktails and culinary creations, matching foods with whiskey, resources for further reading and a listing of major distilleries throughout the world.
For the novice or the connoisseur, Whiskey – The Definitive World Guide is an adventure into the realm of spirits. It is impossible to peruse the pages without a feeling of awe, inspired by the magnificence, history, development and flavor profiles bestowed upon the amber gem.
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Whiskey – The Definitive World Guide By: Michael Jackson, Published by DK Publishing, Inc., New York, NY, USA , (c)2005
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1 - Whiskey has its roots in beer – using a base of malted barley that has been mashed and cooked, it undergoes the same process of fermentation with carefully selected yeast. It then departs its connection with beer during the process of distillation and aging.
2 – The spelling of “whiskey” differs with country. When speaking of whiskey in generic terms, the “e” is correct in general usage. Purists will often insist that “whisky” from Scotland be given the respect of a unique spelling, as it is on the labels of Scotch whisky – a designation that honors its significance as an original creation of Scotland.