Single malt whisky - tasting notes

12 Oct 2010

Whisky Bible 2011

Posted by: Ruben Luyten In: * News

Whisky Bible - Jim MurrayYes, I still buy it. But I can’t help being stunned sometimes. Take this review of the Littlemill 1990 bottled by Malts of Scotland (cask #915).

N23 […] adorably curious […] T23 […] too good to be true […] F22.5 […] B22.5 Sukinda Singh has somehow bagged himself an eminently drinkable Littlemill. As if to prove, against the odds, that such a thing exists. He sometimes amazes me, that bloke. How does he do it…?

Well… Malts of Scotland is a German bottler. Single Malts of Scotland on the other hand (owned by Sukhinder Singh) is a series by The Whisky Exchange in the UK. Sukhinder sometimes amazes me as well, but not with this Littlemill! Jim’s obviously not tasting blind (or at least writing part of his notes after having seen the bottler’s name), how can such an error make it into the printed version?

As a side note, all of the entries of Malts of Scotland bottlings mention “192 bottles” or “96 bottles”. I suppose he was sent miniatures because MoS always fills 192x 5cl bottles (or 96x) apart from the actual run of full bottles. I can imagine people asking themselves why the 70cl bottle in their store has different numbers on the label.

Now I’m checking out the Lochside 1981 by The Whisky Agency. According to the Bible, there were two releases (54% and 55.5%, both sherry, no further information like bottling date, series, number of bottles…). Has anyone heard of this 55.5% version? I think there’s only one Lochside, but they get two different scores.

Update: Carsten Ehrlich from TWA was so kind to clarify. The 55.5% version is this one bottled for Whiskybox.de. While this cask was provided by TWA, I guess it would be hard for customers to recognize it based on the Bible’s description. Also, the 54% version (Insects series) is ex-bourbon wood. Thanks Carsten!

I appreciate Jim’s work and I must say I agree with a lot of scores this year (well… maybe not the award winners). But the basic information should be pristine in an encyclopaedic work.

Whisky Bible 2011 Ruben Luyten 2010-10-12
  • http://whiskyisrael.co.il gal

    Ruben

    surprising …. or not really?

    i did myself a favour. and didnt buy this year’s copy.

    have you tasted the #1? what say you on the matter of Ballentine’s 17 as best whisky for 2011?

    vote on my poll pls : http://whiskyisrael.co.il/ (right )

  • http://www.whiskynotes.be Ruben

    I didn’t try it. I have a hard time believing the 97.5 score, but scores are a personal choice of course. I don’t have problems with that.

  • Michael

    Scores are personal but they cannot be misleading, if something claims to be “Whisky Bible”. I bought last year’s edition and was gasping with amazement a few times, when reading it.

    I did buy Ballantine’s 17YO. It is a nice blend but to put it above all the single malts (including Karuizawa 1967) is beyond me. I will be honest, I am almost angry reading some conclusions. By the way, what is about this sudden rise to fame of bourbons and rye whisky?

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  • Duffer_dk

    I think I will pass again this year.
    With all respect, some of the evaluations are done by throwing dices…

  • http://whiskyisrael.co.il gal

    duffer, dice. how didn’t i think of it? ;)
    Micheal, i too wonder about that. how come american and rye are all the rage of all a sudden.

  • bakerman

    Agree. For me the Ballentines 17y is a very good blend and deserves more attention (time) than many other blends. I would personally not give it > 90 points. But as Ruben said, its a matter of personal taste/preferences and maybe even for professional noses of day to day mood.

    By having “studied” the 2009, 2010 bible I think Murray generally didn’t favour very old whiskies a lot (with some Glenfarclas, Glenfiddichs, Broras and Ardbegs being exceptions of course) and obviously is ultra-sensitive to any kind of sulphur.

    The more annoying things to me are the errors (e.g. in alcohol strength, missing/wrong bottle numbers, missing dates or cask numbers). I suppose he gots at least some of the samples send by producer with wrong, unreadable or missing information on it. However, I think by selling such information one could do a bit of research and cross-reading before publishing.

    I will buy the “2011 bible”, but only to have a second (controverse) opinion on whiskies I nose/drink and will not use it as a shopping-guide”.

  • http://www.whiskynotes.be Ruben

    I’ve updated the part about TWA. The Lochside mystery has been solved.
    @Bakerman Indeed, most incorrect information is probably provided by the producers (or some information is simply not available at the time of tasting) but a little research afterwards could solve most of the errors.

  • aw

    I got the 2011 bible, and was disappointed. With each year that passes I dislike it more… because of the myriad errors, the carry-over entries of long-departed whiskies that should be removed, the waywardness. I think it’s thrown together much too quickly. Just read the entry for the Lagavulin 21, and ask yourself the likelihood of other entries being written when he was “tired and hunting on the wrong frequency”.

    Although each new edition gets worse for me, I don’t think it’s Jim who’s changed. I think it’s me. Years ago when I was starting out, the JMWB was an indispensable crutch. Now I think I’ve outgrown it. The internet, reviews from the likes of Ruben and Serge, and of course my own experience, now count for far more.

    So I have affection for the bible, and thank the man for his work, but I’m giving away my 2011 copy, and not buying it again.

  • http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/ Steffen Bräuner

    I didnt buy it this year, but I tend to buy bthis bible every 4th year, same with the yearbook

    Something that puzzled me is that the peacock is in this years edition, it should have been in the last years. I am pretty sure it was availbale before the fusion who was a whisky in last years edition

    Well, thats always the problem with printed info. When the book is printed it’s outdated.

    In the world of single casks the future belongs to online reviewers. Now Ruben, you just have to rate 4000+ whiskies a year to take over :)

    Steffen

  • Uffe

    I am not going to buy it either, one bible was enough for me.
    The whole blend things must be a marketing thing to keep his name hot so whatever whisky society will pay him again to bable about his latest love. Last year (as pointed out in an earlier post) it was Rye, this year its blends, next year it will be ???
    Also i agree about all the errors and the terrible layout (Is he doing in notepad?).
    Uffe

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  • Roberto Sikora: This is really a great, great bottling. One of my favourite Littlemills so far... :-) Thank you, Ruben for this review!
  • george: i see you have tried st magdalene and say it is harder to find i am a collector of st magdalene and i have 40 bottles i am selling these date from 196
  • sjoerd972: I wish the guys at Bushmills would demand the labels to say "Northern Ireland" so we didn't have to speculate on the booze's origins.

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WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.