Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, 2012,
Jim Murray, Dram Good Books, 384 pages.
It is amazing that this year’s Whisky Bible has the same number of pages as last year’s and yet it has even more whiskies. Last year saw 1.050 new entries whilst this year brings 1,200 more – that is a whole lot of tasting. Even Jim Murray confesses that this has an effect – the increased pressure of reviewing so many whiskies has left him ‘exhausted and drained’ – his words not mine. And yet he manages it – page after page after page of well organised descriptive notes with itemised scores that are easy to read – well they would be if they were in a decent sized font.
But this is not what the book is all about – there are the coveted whisky awards along with Jim’s commentary on the state of the whisky world. This year his comments also looks at the issue of older whisky and changes in wood management.
The important thing that I feel is that one must remember that all these descriptions are subjective – they are just one person’s opinion – even if that person is a world class expert. The temptation is to take them as being more than that which can lead to problems when the reader over relies upon them. This leads to the question of what value has the book actually got?
The answer to this is simply that the book has lots of value. To give just two examples – Jim Murray has been doing this for a long time – even if his taste buds are tuned differently to yours he will notice changes and variations that will give indications for you to look out for – his sensation of citric may be different to yours but if that citric aspect changes he will notice it – this also has an implication for overall quality and balance. The second point of value – and there are many more points but hey I have to save some for next year – The second point is a good use to put the book too. Jim has a very developed palate and an incredible range of references and comparisons. It is an ideal book to have with you when tasting a whisky. I would not use it to help me choose a whisky – others will and I respect them for it but not I – However, having got the whisky and tasted it myself I would then read Jim’s notes and return to see if I can find what he found. It is a good way of pushing your taste recognition – as long as you retain the confidence to be honest with yourself if you disagree with him.
At £12.99 is it worth getting? – An easy yes – I recently spoke about the Malt Whisky Yearbook and some would ask which is better? The answer is simple – they are very different books – They both may be annual publications but their roles and style are very different – the Malt Whisky Yearbook has more articles, distillery information and overall reflection – The bible is more specific to tasting notes – there is a short review of the year and some commentary but by far this is the place to go to find the individual and detailed tasting notes.
My complaint from last year remains – the font is far to small for a man who needs reading glasses – if ever there was a publication that needed to be in app form this is it – and this is where the great news gets even better for the app is coming. The apple and android app should be here by November – but I have not found it yet but I am eager for it to come – just imagine having all those notes so easily at hand – if only I had an iphone. One warning – do not confuse it with the already present Whiskey Bible app – whiskey with an e – available for only 69p but not from Jim Murray and with poor reviews – I have not used it and have no desire to at this present time.