Here are my quick and dirty reviews of a bunch of books I have bought recently. Some can be read in the time it takes to have a crap and provide nothing a newbie doesn't already know. Others are on a professional level and need to be studied. My opinions are from the perspective of someone trying to learn how to make good liquor at home, who has progressed beyond the newbie stage ( still have a long way to go) and wants to understand the science better, so my rating involves whether or not I got any useful knowledge quickly to help understand my hobby, not just following explicit recipes, with no explanation of how they were developed. At least my friends no longer spit out what I make. PS I am mostly interested in Rum, then all-grain whiskey second. books I wish I had not spent the money on
The Joy of Home Distilling, Morris : very cursory information, really a basic survey with nothing you can't find in 10 seconds on the internet. Save your money.
Designing and Building Automatic Stills, 2nd Ed., Riku: advanced stills and theory, but little practical knowledge for the beginner. I'm not saying there isn't good info in here, just that I would read other books first.
Cordial Waters, Pavliuchuck : a recipe book with very little depth. Very little here for the practical home distiller, but does have some stuff on absinthe and gin - two things I don't like and will never make. YMMV
The Kings County Guide to Urban Moonshining, Spoleman and Haskell.: I'm kind of on the fence on this one, it was an interesting read, some cool history, and has value just for that. Not for learning how to distill whiskey IMO.books I would buy again if I lost one
Fermented Beverage Production 2nd ed Lea & Piggott : an industry book, lots of good info here but requires careful study. I got more out of this one than any other book, and have barely begun to learn everything in it. Expensive, so buy used.
Distillers guide to Rum, Smiley, Watson, & Delevante: very worth buying if you want to make rum, but I found it somewhat thin on certain aspects of making rum, or complete explanation of the making of various rum styles.
The Compleat Distiller, Nixon & McCaw: A classic! Very practical and should be on everyone's shelf, even if somewhat dated.
Making Pure Corn Whiskey, A Professional Guide for Amateur and Micro-Distillers, Smiley. : Essential reading, the most involved on making real corn liquor and not just corn-flavored sugar shine (like UJSSM - which I will never make again after I tasted all-grain corn whiskey). Has a lot of practical info and a few simple recipes to get you started, especially if you want to understand all-grain, malting, etc. Highly recommended.
Making Fine Spirits, Zymurgy Bob : great info at a level a beginner can quickly put to use, from a member here is a plus.
HTH and more to come