No other magazine presents such a broad and deep understanding of who and what shapes modern tastes in spirits than CLASS Magazine. Malt Advocate focuses on whiskey (an admirable concentration). Wine & Spirits covers, well, at least one subject other than spirits. Imbibe addresses drinks more broadly and so includes tea, coffee, soda, water, and others. I like them all. But CLASS is spirits all the way. Oh, and the occasional beer, aperitif, and dash of bitters. Geared toward professional and avocational liquor enthusiasts, it includes product reviews, bar and bartender profiles, in-depth historical research, distillery and distiller profiles — and lush, gorgeous photography.
I’ve a stack of these things at home. Heavy, thick, black tomes that dominate the shelf. Articles of the past few years have explored online merchant The Whiskey Exchange, Galliano cocktails, Scottish and Caribbean distilleries, the origins of the old fashioned cocktail, bartender kits, drinking guides to cities around the world, and hundreds of recipes. Particularly bad products get pilloried on a page of their own.
Generally, I'll tear out relevant articles from journals or magazines rather than keep the whole thing, then file them away in appropriate cabinets and folders in my research library — foie gras harvesting in here, citrus genetics over there, corn whiskey and reprints on pepperpot in another area entirely. I've never cut apart an issue of CLASS; each has been so engaging that I've kept it in its entirety.
I offer only one minor caveat; the copy is prone to typos. It's an annoyance to read an engaging, well-researched, beautifully photographed piece and smack into yet another cognitive pothole of the wrong word (guilt, for instance, rather than gilt). But, then, if I had a dollar for every typo I've ever published here, I could easily buy that Munktiki mug I've had my eye on. A two-year subscription to CLASS runs £70 runs £70. £45 gets you one year. If neither of those options suits you, an online version recently launched here.
Mr. Difford will sit on a panel next month at Tales of the Cocktail. Joined by globetrotting bartender Nicolas de Soto and cocktail guru Jonathan Pogash, the three will present The European Bartending Perspective. Details here.