There, I’ve said it. Calm down and don’t worry about where you can find it (you can’t anyhow). So grab a dram <waiting for you>, and let me calmly explain why you need not worry.
- You must consider the source: one man, Jim Murray. I haven’t met Jim, but I’ve met people who have. He’s nice, he’s fun, he apparently likes the ladies. He is ONE person out of 7 billion. Does he know the most about whisky? No. Does he know a lot? Well, yes, as do many many others. Because of the not so recent death of whisky book competitor, Michael Jackson (the English one), Jim is alone in the world of publishing hard copies of whisky reviews. For a newspaper editor that isn’t involved in the whisky community which has blossomed online, Jim is the only authority they know, so they declare his word as the word of the emperor.
- What makes something good or bad? One guy may decide McDonald’s is best but 10 other guys say Pin N’ Burger. One opinion is better and even correct for that person , but consensus is better. The Malt Maniacs did an honest and blind contest recently and came up with this yummy winner (it’s Japanese!)
- I don’t think I’ve had this bottle (and I don’t want to search 600 notes on paper) and I don’t know who has. What I do know is that word gets around when something is great and that didn’t happen here. No one was raving about Jim’s past “winners” either. Ardbeg 10? Once his World Whisky of the Year. Old Pulteney 21 was his champ too. Wanna see what we thought of that? Generally the serious whisky community laughs at Jim. Should you take him seriously?
So why does Jim keep elevating B and B-plus whisky to the highest throne? Only he knows for sure, but only 2 sad choices are available.
- Jim doesn’t know good whisky from bad.
- This means he’s honest but just doesn’t have the same palate as all the other whisky lovers out there. Maybe.
- Jim is full of shit and is a sellout.
- I’ve preached before about mixing money and reviews. Much like Robert Parker with wine, a favorable review means $$ for the producer. Money flows in funny directions. Always has. Even if Yamazaki Sherry isn’t as available as his previous winners, Yamazaki is alive and well and will pop out a new sherry cask next year at prices that will may you cry for Godzilla.
- The Whisky of the Year award is Jim’s Ace. You don’t drop aces for a dead distillery and esoteric bottles like Karuizawa 1973/2013 Cask #1607, 138 Bts. No no no no no. Karuizawa is dead and dead men don’t show gratitude (stupid Malt Maniacs).
Just to be clear, I’m not disparaging the Yamazaki Sherry. Knowing the company, it’s probably solid. I’m just not going to desperately scramble for it like it’s the Brack Friday Bunduru. Yamazaki Sherry 2013 isn’t found in America, but if you are salivating for Asian Sherry, take some good advice and grab the Kavalan Sherry Cask.
Slainte and Kanpai!