Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Whiskey Fundamentalism: The Whisky Bible

You've got to have a good amount of self-assurance to refer to your work as a "Bible." You are basically saying, I'm a god and I doth pass down these writings to thee. Is it possible to set up a greater expectation than to compare your own work to a book that millions of people use to guide them through life? Can any book come close to meriting such an expectation? Well, if your book consists of the most comprehensive set of whiskey reviews ever, then maybe.

And if God drinks whiskey, (and let's face it, if I can't have whiskey, I don't want to go to heaven), then I have no doubt that She owns a copy of Jim Murray's Whisky Bible. The Whisky bible, an annual publication now in its fourth year, is composed of British whiskey writer Jim Murray's tasting notes for literally thousands of whiskies. It includes not only Scotch, Bourbon, Irish, Canadian and Japanese, but whiskies from Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. It reviews $10 bottles and bottles that only the wealthiest collector could ever hope to lay hands on. It is truly a thing to behold.

Now, I don't always agree with Jim's ratings. In fact, I'd say I disagree with him more than I agree, but his reviews are always interesting and the comprehensiveness of the book means if I want to know what whiskies a distillery has produced, I can just open up and look.

The Gospel of Jim Murray

Another thing I like about Jim is that, not unlike the writers of the other Bible, he has a distinct and somewhat contrarian point of view, and he's not afraid to share it. To wit:

  • He was one of the first people I heard rail against the still common use of artificial coloring in Scotch.

  • He is a champion of blended Scotch and
    rails against single malt snobbery. He went so far as to name a blended Scotch his best rated whiskey this year.

  • He thinks Bourbon is some of the finest whiskey being made today, no small feat for a Brit.

  • He is a proponent of Canadian and Japanese whiskey as well as the new American single malts and wants to see those markets grow.

  • He does not worship the false idols of price and age.

So, if you are an intermediate to advanced whiskey lover looking to expand your experience, this is the perfect book for you.

The availability of new editions is spotty in California, but for about $25 (depending on the exchange rate), you can order it on-line from www.whiskybible.com, and Jim will even sign your copy and encourage you to...keep the faith.

Next Wednesday: The Indie Bottling Scene

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