Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion (August 10, 2004)
by Dean Tudor
Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion, Fully Revised 5th edition
(Dorling Kindersley, 2004, 448 pages, ISBN 1-4053-0234-8, $35), has been
expanded by 112 pages since the 1999 edition. The Companion was first
available in 1989, so it has been around for 15 years now. Regular revision
has enhanced Jackson's status; this is the world's best selling book on
There are now over 1000 tasting notes (awesome!), reviewing the latest
releases from every distillery in Scotland (plus a few from offshore in
Ireland, Japan, et al, in seven pages). He includes bottlings from closed
distilleries and some rediscoveries.
The first 80 pages here bring us up to speed on malt whisky, including
"what's new?"(e.g., micro distilleries, Japanese malts, revival
of Islay, wood finishes, cask strengths, vintages and single casks, and
unchillfiltered). Some changes included the fact that Cardhu is now a
vatted malt, and the marketing embraces the alternate spelling (but it
is pronounced the same) of Cardow.
Then, there is the A-Z listing of single malts. The range is from Aberfeldy
to Tullibardine. For each, he gives the usual names and numbers, websites,
history, house style, tasting notes for each label and brand (colour,
nose, body, palate, finish, score). The good stuff is over 70, the exceptional
drink is in the 80s, while the 90s are for the greats. The scores are
not indexed, so you have to skim through the whole book to find the "best"
malts, in Jackson's opinion. I'll tell you now that Macallan 1841 and
1948 rate a 96; Highland Park 25 year old and Lagavulin 16 year old, Lagavulin
1979, and Springbank 25 year old rate 95 each. There is also a bibliography
and an index.
Some interesting or unusual facts: Nova Scotia's Glenora Distillery's
Glen Breton rates a few encouraging lines but a score of only 71.
What I don't like about this book: Because of the need for colour
in the label reproductions, the pages are thick and the book is exceedingly
heavy. Not a bedside winner for the faint. In addition, there is no index
to the rating numbers, nor are price ranges quoted.
What I do like about this book: There is a page describing vatted
malts, created to entice the younger palates.
Quality/Price Ratio: 97