There are journalists who specialise in whisky and spirits although today these are somewhat rare given the affordability of WordPress coupled with the eagerness of arseholes like me willing to give an opinion when none was asked for. Of those still alive and working the most well known could be argued is Mr Jim Murray.
Jim is best known for his annual whisky bible books which rate a large number of whiskies in various categories. In recent years this has been used as a marketing tool to generate sales by producers who feature prominently in it. Amateur commentators like me have made cheeky comments in the past about the questionable results in it each year and its become something of a tradition to mock the book if I am honest.
To be fair to the man though he does appear to take the research very seriously. Commenting in an interview with The Whisky Exchange that his process includes:
When it’s something like the World Whisky of the Year, I taste it at three different times of day, always at the same temperature. And before I start, I always test my taste buds with something I know. If I’m not getting the right response, I’ll leave it for 90 minutes or two hours and come back and taste it again. If I fail a third time, I won’t taste that day.
If any of my staff have anything remotely like a cold, they come nowhere near me. If I pop over to the pub, the landlord will tell me if someone has a cold and I’ll walk out. I don’t even have sex during this time because from kissing you can pick up something, so it’s really miserable. But I will not taste a whisky if I don’t trust my taste buds.
Also, no cooking in this place, none whatsoever. If I have hot food, it is brought in and I eat outside. Nothing with spices. I eat the most bland food – fish, boiled potatoes, nothing with lingering flavour. If I go to Kentucky to taste, I hire a suite and I have one bedroom and a separate room [for tasting]. The staff are not allowed to go in there and clean, so I have a controlled area. Here, cleaners can’t come in and polish while I’m working. It’s control, control, control.
That is the kind of dedication I cannot give you dear reader. Sorry.
Jim has not always written about whisky though. For 13 years he was a “traditional” Fleet Street journalist but has now made the move to owning his own publishing and consulting company. This is how the bible books are published and it appears he owns property in the UK and America so financially its been the right decision to go it alone.
If you want a signed copy then you can find them to buy on their website at www.whiskybible.com/