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How does Jim Murray choose the World Whisky of the Year?

By Whisky Live Staff 19-02-2017

Recently whiskyintelligence.com posted an exclusive interview with Jim Murray, author of the widely acclaimed Whisky Bible. In it he explains his strict selection rules for the World Whisky of the Year and the reason why Scotch hasn’t won it for some time.

We pulled 5 interesting facts from the interview for our readers:

    1.Jim Murray taste about 1 200 whiskies in total which is about 20 per day on a good day. He describes the process as translating what he is tasting into English.

    2.When tasting for the World Whisky of the Year, he samples the same whisky at 3 different times in the day but always at the same temperature.

    3.On days that Murray is tasting, he tests his taste buds with something he knows and if he doesn’t get it right he won’t taste that day. He only eats hot meals outside of the room he’s tasting in, and he eats nothing spicy and nothing with a lingering flavour. If he’s tasting away from home, staff aren’t allowed to clean, so that the environment is controlled. He won’t go near anyone with a cold.

    4.He chooses whiskies for their complexity and doesn’t recommend any whisky that is too much of one thing, that is, too peaty or too sherried. He describes the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 as “the most extraordinary ‘intertwangling’ between the oak – the big oak – and the most gorgeous sherry”.

    5.Scotch whiskies haven’t won World Whisky of the Year because according to Murray, they make use of older bourbon casks that become over-used which leads to milky notes from chemicals that would’ve been way back in the wood earlier on in the cask’s life. Secondly, the distillers have closed down so many grain distilleries that they are now much of a muchness. He qualifies his thinking by saying, “But let’s get something absolutely straight: there is fantastic Scotch whisky; it’s just not winning the World Whisky of the Year.”




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