To be fair, maybe Mr Jackson didn't think they had or maybe the improvements, in the case of Speyburn, came very recently and after this edition was published.
I still can believe Glenlivet 12 yr old gets such a high score. Some whiskies, you might not like them, have a cult following like Laphroaig and all the peat monsters but I don't see how Glenlivet can have a following like that.
When reviewing a common or garden whisky, does Mr Jackson re-taste them all freshly? I just wondered.
I have owned this book for half a day now, and I've really only flicked through it.
However, something that stood out to me very quickly was that the listing, description and score for the Lagavulin Distillers Edition remained unchanged since the 4th edition, i.e. we are talking about a 1979 DE Lagavulin.
What about the 1980, 1981, or the more recent 1984, '85, and '86 bottlings of the Distillers Edition? (I think there's even been a 1987 released).
Why bother listing a vintage which has been unavailable now for at least four years, and ignore all the later vintages? Hardly helpful, or accurate.
I'm also curious, if not a little annoyed that the age statement Bowmores are omitted. Surely a printing error? And where is the Bowmore Darkest?
And anyone who knew nothing about whisky but picked this book up for the first time would conclude that Macallan are virtually incapable of making a whisky that scores less than 90.
No doubt more issues will be worth posting and discussing once we've had a chance to digest this edition further.
I am thrilled that so many new entries have found their way into this book, but it is disappointing that so many have seemingly not been updated.
The decline of The Macallan has been very well documented and discussed on these forum pages, as well as on countless others, and certainly amongst my colleagues in various malt appreciation clubs. For the tasting notes under The Macallan to remain unchanged (and particularly the scores) suggests that either MJ did not re-visit these malts, or he ain't being honest.
This is in stark contrast to Jim Murray's Bible, where it is very clear to JM that many of the whiskies change from year to year, and warrant different scores each year.
It is also a little unusual that quite a few entries have remained for malts that are well and truly "out of print". Was this just to boost the number of malts reviewed in the book?
I'm sorry if I sound a little harsh or critical. It's just that I found the 4th edition such a fantastic book and a valuable reference, perhaps I was hoping for more out of the 5th edition.
And Jim Murray has probably moved the goalposts a little by presenting us with a fantastic publication that deliberately set out to review all the malts currently available.
The interesting thing about this forum is that we're spread all over the world and for such a diverse group to comment on changes cannot be ignored. I've only had MJ's 5th edition for a while so I have not had a chance to go thru it completely but I think everybody is onto something.
I'd have been happy to lose some of the Macallans in exchange for the Bowmores.
I cannot help feel that this book was rushed through too quickly without enough thought & effort going into it.
It is full of inconsistencies - for example, on one page MJ explains that there are around 100 distilleries in Scotland, of which around 80 are operational. Just a few pages later, he says exactly the same thing, but advises that two-thirds are operational. 80 versus 66?
Nothing too dramatic in the scheme of things, but perhaps evidence that things were put together piecemeal and with little coordination.
After several (separate) conversations with many knowledgable malt drinkers, we all agreed that many "special" bottlings have deteriorated enormously.
The Glenmorangie standard wood finishes (Sherry, Madeira, and Port), together with the Bowmore "Darkest" are four good examples.
These whiskies were no doubt very good when they were first launched. They quickly made a name for themselves and established a reputation as being top shelf, high-scoring malts. (This was about the time MJ's 4th edition came out!).
However, it is clear to everyone that the malts are spending less time in the finishing cask; that the quality of the casks has gone downhill (particularly for the Bowmore Darkest), and the whiskies are DEFINITELY not the same quality as they were when they were first launched.
It annoys me considerably that the 5th edition retains the scores (and hence maintains their reputations) from 4 or 5 years ago because clearly MJ did not bother to re-vist these and taste current samples.
The Glenmorangie cask strength too is a bit of a disaster lacking any of the firmness and complexity one would associate with a non chill-filtered, cask strength whisky. In this case though, the sham extends to the packaging too ( a la J W Blue)
Do most participants on this forum have a bias towards any particular writer i.e. do we have favourites there too? Jim Murray v/s Michael Jackson / Dave Broom??
I confess that MJ was my preferred whisky scribe, but this 5th Edition has really damaged & tarnished my opinion and the esteem I held him in.
Personally I prefer books which tell you more about the personalities, for instance I am currently reading < But always fine bourbon > Sally Van Winkle Campbell's excellent book about her grandfather Pappy Van Winkle ( and also about her father Julian Senior and her brother Julian ). so I don't find the Bank's book at all bad,, even though a lot of postings would clearly prefer to read less about IB and more about whisky!
As for the MJ book, well a couple of people seem to be getting pretty emotional about what's in and what's not. I guess that any book which contained tasting notes on every expression of every malt would be pretty expensive to produce. And I also guess that for most people, especially those who are not hardcore whisky enthusiasts, it is MJ's name that they would recognise as the whisky expert.
And as for more tasting notes, well fortunately this very website has quite a few, including the latest expressions. The Bowmore, for which MJ's book has been specifically criticised for not including later expressions, is the subject of tastings by various combinations of MJ, Jim Murray, Dave Broom and Gavin Smith for no less than 17 expressions, including the 12, the 15 and the Darkest., in issues of WM ranging from number 5 to number 39.
So if in doubt, check WM!
The very premise of the book is that if you're interested in a particular bottling, you can check out the details and read the tasting notes.
Failing to update so many entries is a bit like selling a book offering financial advice for the stockmarket and recommending companies that have since gone under!
I speak as one who has in the past published a monthly directory
which contained 10,000 listings of which on average over 3,000 had to be amended in some way each month.
But the key point is what the publishers of MJ's book claim for it.
Do they say it is comprehensive, accurate and up to date? Do they say that you will find tasting notes for every bottling? Do they say that there is no better source of information about malts?
Since I have not seen the book, or any publicity for it, I don't know the answers, but if they do not make similiar claims for MJ's book, then anyone thinking of buying it should recognise that what they are getting is not the definitive source of information about malts.
As a potential buyer, you would then have to decide on the infomation you have about the contents as to whether it will still be worth buying,
Over the years it has gained such a reputation that purchasers would expect to find most of the readily available bottings included.
My complaint was that so many pages had been used for the very limited edition Macallans which even if available I would have thought that few could afford. I can see an argument that says that readers can at least read about them even if they'll never get to drink them, but to lose the Bowmores is in my view too high a price to pay. After all there was a seperate booklet, which I think WM subscribers received for free, which gave tasting notes on these rare Macallans.
I don't say that in a cynical or nasty way.....the media and journalists have worked that way for years.
But it might also explain why Macallan also gets a separate section and mention in the book where MJ talks about the use of sherry casks for maturation, etc.
But surely MJ's standing is so strong and his reputation so solid that any of the producers would happily provide him with all the bottles he needs, in return for his endorsement, either overt or covert?
Perhaps the Mac just happens to be MJ's favourite whisky, and that is why he writes about it more than others!
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