Whisky Advocate

The verdict on reviewing the Manager’s Choice whisky samples

March 8th, 2010

Last week I asked you here whether you wanted me to review Round 2 of Diageo’s Manager’s Choice whiskies. By roughly a 2-1 margin, you voted “no”.

I told you I would offer my decision today. (Sorry for the delay–an unexpected doctor visit pushed my schedule back.)

Here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll review the whiskies–it might only be informally–sometime soon and let you know my thoughts. Many of you are curious about the whiskies (even though you may never taste them), and so am I. I’ll also compare them to existing standard bottlings if I have them handy (something many of you asked about). BUT, I won’t review them until I get some of the more affordable, accessible whiskies reviewed first. That’s my first priority.

25 Responses to “The verdict on reviewing the Manager’s Choice whisky samples”

  1. Mark Davis says:

    I hope you are in good health.

    I just wasn’t to thank you for making so much of the great content you make for the magazine available online. On top of that making lots of online only content and reading lots of comments people leave and providing useful information. It’s really great. I appreciate it. I also really like that you have access to the best and can fully apreciate it but are fiercely anti-pretension and want to make it easy for people to enjoy whisk(e)y because that’;s what it’s all about

    Thanks again

    • John Hansell says:

      Mark, I think I tore the medial meniscus in my left knee. MRI tomorrow…. 🙁 How do I know? I did the same thing to my right knee four years ago.

      Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated.

      • B.J. Reed says:

        Man, John that’s not good and between that and the shoulder surgery you have had a couple of years ago you are becoming the bionic man!

        Take care of yourself!

        • John Hansell says:

          Yeah, let’s see. I have had surgery on both shoulders and one knee. Might as well balance it out and get the other knee done too. I hate surgery. Why did I inherit these crappy genes? At least my palate is doing fine!

          • sam k says:

            A friend of mine says that knees are proof there is no God…he would never make something that faulty. Mine are both shot. Good luck, brother!

          • Mark Davis says:

            Some people would give an arm and a leg to have your job. hopefully you don’t have to do both of that.

  2. Alex says:

    Sounds like a great solution to me. Thanks for listening to us!

  3. Neil Fusillo says:

    Sounds like a plan. While I’m curious to know your thoughts (as I respect your tastes on whisky a great deal), I’m hardly DYING to know how these are, as I’ll never personally see them or own them.

  4. G Llaguno says:


    I hope you’ll get a quick recover!
    I Think your priorities are well established and it will help a lot more to most people who are whisky lovers and cannot afford marketing whiskys (myself being one of those).

    Keep on the good work!

  5. Mark says:

    Best wishes to you, especially regarding your physiology! The plan sounds good. Surely no one thought a vote on “no formal review” meant not tasting! It might not even mean an across the board lack of formal reviews, and that’s great. Thanks for aiming for a balance between “affordable” and “luxury” whisk(e)y reviews that emphasizes the “affordable.”

    For me, really, it’s not a lack of interest in the “luxury” reviews (I think the quotation marks are relevant because the terms are so loose). Rather, I think there’s an advantage to you, the blog and MA for people to read reviews and think, “Oh, I can go get this!”

  6. Shaun Farrier says:

    Let’s hope that Springbank is considered more affordable & accessible. I need a fix!!!!.

  7. Chris Riesbeck says:

    Best of luck with the surgery. Nothing like a little spring tune up eh?

  8. JC Skinner says:

    Really sorry to hear about your injury, John.
    Hope you’re on the mend ASAP.
    I am curious as to why you committed to being guided by the readership on whether to review these whiskies, only to decide to ignore the decision offered pretty emphatically by the same readership, though.
    While I for one appreciate your intention to at least compare them to more available and affordable bottlings, I suspect I’m not alone in hoping that a rejection to review would send a strong message out to Diageo and other distillers that you stand alongside your readership in concern at their pricing and marketing policies as regards such releases.
    Perhaps you’re in some way obliged to review them, or at least feel so, having received the samples. That’s understandable.
    But pace Alex above, this response makes me feel the readers actually weren’t listened to.

    • MrTH says:

      I think that, on the contrary, John went above and beyond here. Undoubtedly the vehemence of the reaction to this line of bottlings caught him by surprise, which led him to ask how we felt about it. Consultation is one thing; in the end, he has to do what he thinks makes sense. There is certainly no obligation to adhere to a majority vote, and it’s probably pretty silly to try to reduce an issue that raises such complex emotional reaction to a black-and-white, yes-or-no conclusion, anyway. John’s ultimate decision on how to handle this might be different from what I would do, or what the majority vote would indicate, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

    • John Hansell says:

      I felt that this was a good compromise. I am trying to be understanding to the number of people who actually wanted me to review them–1/3 of you. I don’t think I should just ignore them completely. I’m trying my best to appeal to as many WDJK readers as possible.

      I never feel obliged to review anybody’s whisky. My only obligation is to you (my WDJK followers). Probably every whisky company out there has sent me samples that I have never reviewed.

      • New idea: WDJK/MA Reader Reviews.

        Take those samples you don’t plan on reviewing and send them out to readers, with a sub-blog for reader tasting notes.

        I’ll volunteer, of course.

  9. Louis says:

    Hi John,

    First of all, wishing you a speedy recovery. I think that you have found a nice middle ground with your approach.



  10. Sorry to hear about the injury. Best of luck with the MRI.

    I agree that the pricing in the whisky industry is getting out of control. I wonder what the common whisky drinker as well as the media can do to have any influence on this. Obviously if the market drops out on high-dollar whisky, this might have an impact, but while the perception remains that taste is directly correlated with price, this isn’t going to happen. Perhaps that’s why I love that Jim Murray rates Alberta Premium rye so highly!

  11. whiskeyminis says:

    I’m glad you came up with this compromise. Thumbs up.
    Good luck, on the knee.

  12. Whiskeyminis says:

    Just remembered; if you hate surgery this video might help.

  13. […] Hansell, after polling his readers, has decided to review the second round of the “controversial” Manager’s Choice drams from Diageo – though only after reviewing some considerably more affordable […]

  14. MrTH says:

    Knees, ay yi yi. I had both shoulders done a couple years ago, and am glad I didn’t do it 25 years ago, when I first had trouble. You couldn’t even find the scars. Knee surgery has progressed similarly, of course…but I don’t have to walk on my shoulders. Best of luck. Do the rehab.

  15. Texas says:

    John, Good compromise. Hope things turn out well with the knee. Maybe just some rehab? I am in Alice Springs, Australia now. Saw the JW Double Black in Sydney, but was miserable with a cold and Duty Free was a mad house so I just went through customs and got to the hotel. I may pick some up on the way back if I can figure how to pack it well in my soft checked baggage.

  16. bgulien says:

    That’s a very political compromise. And very welcome.
    I think nobody is in a hurry to hear if they are any good, but most of the yes voters are still curious.
    You could be a politician 😉
    And the very best with that scan. I suffer from a bad knee too. Have to walk with a stick.
    The wrist action however is superb!

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