Top positive review
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Entertaining and informative
on 19 September 2014
For anyone who wants to discover more about malt whisky and perhaps to build up a collection, this book contains a fair amount of useful information about Scotland's distilleries and the various expressions which they offer. There is also a small appendix which deals with malts from other parts of the world. The introductory notes regarding the making of malt whisky are informative for those who know nothing of the process. The historical and background information which is given for each distillery is entertaining and reasonably informative given the space available. Tasting notes and scores are given for each expression but whether the scoring system is of any benefit is questionable. If you share Michael Jacksons taste buds you may find it useful, but flavour and aroma remain entirely subjective concepts. I love some of the whiskies which MJ doesn't rate too highly. The more generic descriptions regarding general style, such as "after dinner" or "aperitif", are more useful for the majority of us who don't possess the elevated faculties of professional tasters.
Keeping a book of this type up to date is an impossible task and it would be unfair to criticise it because some of the expressions that are included are no longer made. The text revisions made by the present authors have followed Michael Jackson's lyrical, entertaining and infectious style and his enthusiasm for his subject shines through, perhaps a little too much at times. The section on his favourite Macallan contains too many expressions which most of us are unlikely to see let alone afford, and romance gets the better of him when he waxes about the smuggling routes which crossed the site of the Dalwhinnie distillery. The reality is rather more mundane. It was built at Dalwhinnie simply to take advantage of the adjacent Highland railway and about 70 years after the illegal whisky trade had died out.
These criticisms are minor points which do not detract from the overall quality of the book. Michael Jackson's opinions and reputation were revered by his peers and his Malt Whisky Companion remains as one of the best guides which you are likely to find.