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shots of knowledge coverShots of Knowledge: The Science of Whiskey

by Rob Arnold and Eric Simanek

160 pages, 12 x 12 • Cloth $35.00
ISBN 978-0-87565-654-0

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Shots of Knowledge is a guidebook for whiskey lovers. Organized into approximately sixty illustrated essays, the book samples selected topics in whiskey production through the lenses of science and engineering.


While the essays are subdivided into three sections—From Sunshine to Sugar, From Wee Beasties to White Dogs, and From Barrel to Brain—the reader is free to sip them in any order. The story commences with water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight; travels through the manufacturing process; and ends with the molecules that entertain the palate.


Whether the topic is photosynthesis, bubble caps, oak speciation, or a mechanistic enzymology, the essays seek to reveal the simple beauty too often hidden in science and engineering. At approximately one page in length, each essay and accompanying artwork can be digested slowly at the rate estimated at three essays per bourbon or Scotch.


Each essay is summarized in one or two sentences in a single “Shot of Knowledge.” Iconography anchors each essay in the production process. Inspiration for the book derived from a productive collision between individuals from TCU and the Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company.


ROB ARNOLD is a native of Louisville, Kentucky, and a third-generation member of the whiskey industry. With a passion for both science and whiskey, he holds degrees in microbiology and biochemistry. Since 2011, he has been the head distiller at the Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company in Fort Worth, Texas. Growing up in central Illinois, ERIC SIMANEK was surrounded by corn destined for feed or alcohol. He holds degrees in chemistry from Illinois and Harvard. A member of the chemistry faculty at TCU, he enjoys sharing his love of science with all ages and sharing whiskey with good friends.