The art of writing about whisky

I’m always fascinated by the way whisky writers write about the 'water of life' with their colourful and creative descriptions. You sometimes think that it’s as much an art as distilling the whisky itself. Ok, I know my way around a little bit as well and are able to "nose and taste" the difference between an Ardbeg, Laphroaig or Bowmore malt whisky. Determining if a whisky is peaty, salty, heathery or spicy lies within my reach but this is as far as it goes for me, these guys however seem light years ahead.

There are many good whisky writers but I will stick to the two most well known, Michael Jackson and Jim Murray. Michael Jackson is known for his Malt Whisky Companion, a very comprehensive and compact guide with tasting notes from almost every distillery and almost every bottling. This is what Michael Jackson writes about an Ardbeg 21-year old, 56.3 vol:

Nose: Firm, but aromas more tightly combined. As though the brine and iodine-line seaweed had permeated a stretch of hard, compacted sand.
Plate: Instant hit of flavours. The maritime character overlapping pepper, lemons, fresh limes, bananas. (After that bracing walk on the beach, an afternoon of snoozy luxury with fruits and pastries?)

Jim Murray is the author of the Whisky Bible, which was published for the first time in 2003. He is acknowledged as a world leader when it comes to describing the tastes and sensations of the different whiskies available today. Jim Murray just published his 2007 edition of his Whisky Bible and the B'laddie B'log wrote about that yesterday, together with some of Jim Murrays tasting notes regarding Bruichladdich Malt’s and there is one, as a nice follow up from yesterdays news, I would like to quote here:

Port Charlotte 2001 – Quite possibly the most coastal whisky I have ever nosed: it is as if the peat has been diluted by seawater. This smells of rotting distilleries, and malt kilns. It is unique and unquestionable the most evocative thing I have ever sniffed. I close my eyes and am on undiscovered Islay, before I ever wrote about the place, when I could wander around barely known distilleries alone. No matter how it tastes it cannot paint a picture so vividly or bring back such a lost joy as the nose, or even a sense of loss of how things used to be… I don’t know if you believe this or not, but it has actually brought a lump to my throat, and a slightly moistened eye.

Jim Murray rewarded this whisky with 96 points! Some of the other 'Brilliant' Bruichladdich whiskies he wrote about in the article on the Bruichladdich Blog are: Bruichladdich XVII – 94 points, Bruichladdich Twenty islands – 95 points, Bruichladdich Infinity – 94 points, Bruichladdich Links 'Turnberry 10th' – 94 points and Bruichladdich 3D also 94 points.

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Spirit of Islay

Sunday, 04 March 2007
Hi Ron ,
The 2001 Port Charlotte mention in Jim Murrays latest Whisky Bible is actually my Bloodtub not the PC5 , just incase people get that impression from the photo you've posted .