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The Great Man Would be Proud
on 31 March 2010
Writing the latest version of Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion is akin to taking over the squad football shirt from a legendary footballer; you cannot possibly win in the eyes of his followers. Any yet winning isn't really the point; you know you will never replace the great man, you are aware of his permanent place in the hearts of millions, you continue to honour his memory and you move on. This is exactly what Dominic Roskrow, Gavin Smith and William Meyers have done. And how.
Roskrow et al have done a fabulous job. They have made it clear that this is still very much Jackson's book, two and a half years after his death. They have written each new review in the same spare but highly evocative language of the great man, whilst leaving much of his original material intact. Jackson's introductions and his section on his beloved Macallan are left largely as they are, although the book is updated for newer bottlings (e.g. the Fine Oak range). Out go the reviews for malts long since unavailable, and in come bang up-to-date bottlings, including selected Vatted Malts, Japanese, American and European single malts. Of course, some will quibble about the whiskies included and not included and of the marks accorded, used as we are to Jim Murray's rather top heavy scoring. How, though, in such a subjective and value-laden topic is this to be avoided? As good as his books are, Jim Murray all too often lapses into relative judgements which mean nothing to the reader. The latest edition of the Malt Whisky companion avoids this by sticking to crisp and clear absolute descriptions of each whisky.
The real question is whether anyone not aware of Jackson's death (and surely there can't be many) REALLY notice that this wasn't written by him? The answer, I suggest, is no. This is a must have for any whisky buff. Well done boys, the great man would be proud.