- Whisky Advocate - Magazine: Part of the whisky fabric for almost 20 years, John Hansell is one of the leading authors and whisky enthusiasts in North America. The magazine as well as blog are very informative and cover all aspects of the global whisky industry. I’ve come to appreciate that John and I have very similar opinions and I often identify with the descriptors of his nosing/tasting notes. He writes well, writes for the every day person which is why I love recommending his website to new members of our society. Unlike some of the other magazines out there, he and his staff make it a point to cover whiskies mostly available in North America. I REALLY like that, as it means I have a chance to buy them. It’s great to read reviews from overseas, but I know in some cases I’ll never be so lucky to taste a rare, expensive and limited release (Europe only) bottle. John also has a great blog which you can find on our blog list or his website. Thousands of whiskies reviewed with his notes. This magazine and website are a great reference if you are looking to get information about a whisky BEFORE you buy it. (www.maltadvocate.com)
- Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible - Book: I highly respect Mr. Murray (Talisker was his and my first distillery tour). The man has his own tasting lab!? - How can that not be a cool thing??? BUT, from a nosing/tasting perspective he and I are often at the opposite ends of the spectrum. If he loves and rates a whisky high, 75% of the time, I will have a very different opinion (hehe). It’s a great barometer when you think about it. I liken it to shopping for my youngest daughter – If I hate it, she buys it. Mr. Murray has reviewed thousands of whiskies from every corner of the world (good and bad) and constantly revisits samples every year (1500 in 2012 – new and re-tasted). From a woman’s perspective I love some of the words he uses to describe what he noses/tastes. He simply doesn’t state: Hint of lime. He is very specific: Creamy key lime pie. His reviews are followed world wide and he is one of the most respected whisky “celebrities” in the industry, by me included. There is a reason why his book is called the whisky bible: I highly recommend this as a MUST for someone starting out on their journey. Mine is well stained and used almost every day! http://www.whiskybible.com/
- Malt Madness/Malt Maniacs - website: When I found this website I felt like I had found the jackpot of ALL things whisky. As far as resources, nosing/tasting notes, events, process, beginner’s guide, maniac status, etc. It has everything!? Started almost 15 years ago and one of the first online groups for people who shared a passion for whisky. Informative, funny, great group of much respected individuals from around the world. You cannot beat having this saved as one of your favourites. My only small (very small complaint) about them is there is only one female in the entire world whom has been accepted as one of their malt maniacs (not sure why): Martine Nouet. Many great articles, reviews (one of the largest online references available), some very approachable people who truly enjoy helping others on their journey. http://www.maltmadness.com/
- Mark Gillespie – Whisky cast (pod cast). If you don’t know who he is, take the time to check it out. Since November of 2005 Mark has been podcasting a whisky show. We download the episodes and then listen to them while we travel. The shows are informative and so broad, covering the spectrum of the industry. The guests are from around the world. It’s like listening to your very own radio show. I love the fact that even though he accepts samples, trips and advertising from some of the biggest names and distilleries he remains completely unbiased and honest and if you read some of the reviews he’s done, that is very apparent. http://www.whiskycast.com/
- Oliver Klimek – Blogger. I have followed Mr. Klimek for the better part of two years now. He is by far one of my favorite bloggers and tweeters. I love his style of writing. His blog site is more than just informative it’s essential for whisky newbies! It has everything! One of the things I love the most about his blog is he has a section entitled: Bang for the buck. Let’s be honest, the majority of us will never be in a position to buy Johnnie Walker Diamond Jubilee (£100,000), but as I’ve come to deeply appreciate I can afford the ones on this list and they are some of the most cherished in my collection. Why you ask? Because they taste amazing and don’t cost me a month’s groceries, that’s why! He is an advocate that old and expensive doesn’t necessarily mean BETTER! Mr. Klimek has a knack for writing for the every day person that drinks, collects or simply enjoys good whiskies. On twitter, he’s very active, loves to interact and provides great insight and advice. Very approachable and super nice person. Add his blog to your favorites or follow him on twitter, I dare you! www.dramming.com
- Martine Nouet – Author, journalist, whisky malt maniac: Good luck tracking this very busy woman down, from France but lives on Islay. Ms. Nouet is my whisky heroine for one purpose: She is by far the most respected whisky pairing “chef” in the industry and I believe the only person who writes exclusively about food/whisky. She is known as the queen of the still, what better title!? If you are looking to learn more about food pairing and whisky, this (ladies and gentleman) is the Queen. What I love about Martine is she comes to my province once a year at our NB Spirits Festival in November and does the most unbelievable things with whisky/food. Don’t forget, New Brunswick Canada has a population of 750,000, it’s not like she’s going to Toronto or Vancouver and yet she comes every year!
- Davin De Kergommeaux – Canadian Whisky Expert: What kind of Canadian would I be if I didn’t recognize or respect the fact that amongst my vast country there exist the MOST knowledgeable and proud individual with regards to Canadian whiskies (as recognized by Malt Maniacs, Whisky Magazine). In a time when Canadian whiskies fell out of favor with the rest of the world he continued to be loyal and an advocate. He has stood on the sidelines through it all and NOW, here we come. The Canadian Whisky Industry is alive and kicking. We have new innovative entrepreneurs winning awards world wide and Davin is still at the forefront beating that large drum. How can I not be proud? Mr. de Kergommeaux is a certified sommelier and also a malt maniac who recently published (a laborious project he held dear to his heart): Canadian Whisky, the portable expert. I just got my copy and although only on chapter three, am enjoying it immensely. Another great example of a person in the industry who isn’t in it just for the money but because of the beliefs and passion he has. If you want to know anything about Canadian whisky, he is the man to follow: www.canadianwhisky.org
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST:
- Michael Jackson – Author, critic, journalist and whisky expert. Although Mr. Jackson passed away in 2007, his books: The world guide to whisky, the Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch and the Malt Whisky Companion are PERMANENT fixtures in my arsenal of whisky resources. Graham will spend hours combing all the back issues of Whisky Magazine just to find his articles. His outlook on life and whisky was what every serious enthusiast (like me) should aspire to. As a judge at international whisky competitions he would anger and frustrate organizers by going way past the time allotted for nosing/tasting, never to be rushed from a good dram. His reviews were precise, honest and never blown up to crazy proportions in order to sell, sell, sell! He was highly respected, admired and in the end is still sadly missed. Of all the books I bring with me to our Saint John Whisky Tasting Society meetings/tastings, his are borrowed the most. I have devoured his books from cover to cover and truly feel that if you are going to buy at least one book, his should be it.
Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Whisky books and references, a must for the whisky journey ahead – She said…
SHE SAID: My mother came to visit for the long Victoria Day weekend (here in Canada) and mentioned that I seemed to have whisky “stuff” everywhere. I do: Kitchen, living room, bedrooms, bathroom, basement, on cell phone, computer and possibly even in my car!? Now, stuff refers to reading material mostly books and magazines but also other tools and handy resources. They are pretty much always at my fingertips no matter where I am. I love twitter, great new reference point for me and it keeps me up to date (to the minute) about what is going on in the whisky world. Is it really necessary that I have my blackberry with me in the tub or at work and that a breaking news story, blog or announcement be at my fingertips? Maybe not all the time but on occasion I have been privy to information that others may not have been, and to a positive end, like a new limited release arriving and getting a bottle or being on twitter just as bloggers are being invited to review a sample of a rare whisky AND being one of the lucky ones to have made the list.
I have never been one to do things “half ass” so it only seemed natural when I really started to get into whiskies that I buy magazines and whisky books, read blogs, reviews, attend whisky events and talk to other whisky lovers to get a sense of what I liked/ disliked in order to become extremely “knowledgeable”. Do I profess to being an expert and knowing everything? Not even the likes of David Broom himself could ever say that with a straight face (no insult intended Mr. Broom, hehe). The whisky world is broad and ever evolving. New distilleries are opening, innovative products coming out, new/old bottlings winning awards and countries adding themselves to the list of whisky producers world wide.
I have a friend who emails me, probably once a week to ask my opinion on a whisky she is considering for her collection. I know her well enough that she doesn’t like Islays or Bourbons but she does LOVE sherry influence. She has just begun her whisky journey so it’s a great experience to walk her through some of the references I use on a regular basis. I truly believe and preach the importance (people just starting as well as those who have been at this for a while) of not being stale! Constantly read, educate, discuss, try whiskies over and over, learn and most of all keep an open mind throughout the entire process, ALWAYS. Be free to try the “not so popular” whiskies. There’s an audience out there for each and every one of our portfolios. Graham’s best friend’s father loves to drink Grant’s with water. No offence to Grant’s, it’s not a blend I overly enjoy but he loves it because it’s cheap and refreshing. If I serve him an Auchentoshan 1978 it’s a completely wasted dram and experience as he doesn’t nose, doesn’t really taste and unfortunately, doesn’t really care. Hence the importance of knowing your audience!
If you are new to all this or like me, an intermediate down the whisky trail, here is what I recommend you may want to consider having on hand. (But a small list of what I personally use and why and in no particular order):
So, there you have it. As I mentioned, these are but “some” of the tools and references I use on a regular basis to inform, compare, review or simply relax with when it comes to whisky. I do hope you found the list enjoyable and will take the time to explore these and many more for your own journey.
Slàinte to all!