[Books] Whisky Bible 2016 - Jim Murray

After the tasting notes, the culinary tips, the feedback on tasting sessions, I thought I would include a "resource" section about whisky. I am a teacher after all! In that section I will present books or websites I use to get general information about whisky or to get more specific information about a bottle or a distillery before I decide to part with my hard-earned cash (I am now waiting for comments about teachers vs hard-earned cash...!)
In this first post, I am not going to present the first book I bought about whisky (Dave Broom's The world atlas of Whisky) but one many people consider the reference in terms of whisky: Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2016.




As its name indicates, this book is a bit of a reference for tasting notes of around 4,600 whiskies from around the world. I had never looked at one before the 2016 edition, but considering the fact that it comes up so frequently around the whisky industry, I thought I would order it. I am not going to talk about the author much, except that Jim Murray is a British journalist and writer who has specialised in all things whisky, and that many regards his views on whisky as a benchmark. My post however will focus more on the book itself.
When I first got hold of my copy, I went through it briefly and realised that it is for people who already have a bit of knowledge about whisky as you are facing pages after pages of notes, marks and mysterious codes. There isn't really any pictures, maps or other illustrations which could make the reading enjoyable for a complete novice in search of more information. However after 5 minutes and a look at the Key on the first page, the not-so-complete beginner can start looking at specific drams to read about what Jim Murray wrote about it. It is basically a reference book which CAN help you understand whether a dram is "average" or a "superstar [...] that gives us all a reason to live". It has also at the beginning a list of Jim Murray 2015 whisky awards winners as well as a list of his "liquid gold awards". Whiskies are classified by countries (Scottish Malts, Scottish Grain, Scottish Blends, Irish, American, Canadian, Japanese, European and the rest of the World). Looking through my collection of whiskies and the notes and marks given to them in the book, I am very glad to see that most of them have been rated rather high!
HOWEVER, you cannot forget that drinking whisky is a very personal experience. Yes you can share it with other people -as Jim Murray is doing with his Bible- but ultimately, nobody else but you can decide whether the smell, taste and wider experience of a dram is something enjoyable or not. I use the book to check bottles new to me of course but on top of other people's reviews online, advice from fellow drinkers and my own judgement and experience. Do not forget that the feedback this book provides you with is the something personal to Jim Murray, someone who has been exposed to thousands of different whiskies for many years and whose nose and palate are completely different from yours!
So to conclude, I would say that as the reference book, it is very well done and rather complete too, but would I go out and search for the Liquid Gold Awards first like many others do... not really as 1: each time these awards are revealed prices rocket up and 2: these whiskies might not even best suit my own personal taste!

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