Whisky Advocate

Guest post: review of “Malt Whisky Yearbook (2011 Edition)

December 17th, 2010

Today, Jonny McCormick, a  Malt Advocate features writer, shares his review of  Malt Whisky Yearbook 2011, edited by Ingvar Ronde. (Oh, and we also sell this book here, in our Marketplace, in case you are interested in getting a copy.)

Malt Whisky Yearbook 2011 (edited by Ingvar Ronde)
Published by MagDig Media Limited | 274 pages

For the past few years, this annual has been essential reading for the whisky fraternity. An assembly of essayists bookend a hugely informative guide to the whisky distilleries of the world crammed with facts and statistics; this is a great resource no matter what you may already know about whisky. Only this publication and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible have created a role for yearly whisky publications and as each year passes, there seems a growing confidence and conviction with the Malt Whisky Yearbook.

This year, Charlie MacLean presents a thoroughly researched article on the dynamic and substantial whisky market in India from the modern day whisky baron Vijay Mallya of United Spirits Ltd, to the high taxes levied against imported Whiskies and the successful degree of marketing and promotion that operates despite the alcohol ban.

Dominic Roskrow revisits repackaging, rebranding and relaunches.

Hans Offringa takes a colourful look at the development of whisky labels including the legal necessities likening the label to a passport for each whisky.

Ian Wisniewski tackles the complexities of successful mashing with enough detail and factual science to keep you going for another year.

Ian Buxton’s piece reviews the polarized views expressed in the light of Chivas Bros “Age Matters” campaign with a balanced and highly entertaining essay including the steadying, cogent arguments proffered by Serge Valentin.

Gavin D. Smith looks at what factors influence cask maturation from wood provenance and the flavour contributions from American, European or Japanese oak, cask size and re-casking maturing whisky to improve the development of new flavours.

Chris Bunting (aka our man in Japan as far as the whisky blogosphere goes) writes about the reversal of fortunes for big brand whiskies in the domestic Japanese market, the optimism in Japanese craft distilling and the slow but eagerly anticipated growth of exports to the USA and Europe (through the efforts of Number One Drinks and La Maison du Whisky, Paris).

The distillery section is dominated by single malt Scotch and Irish distilleries but each year, the list is juggled to reflect active distilleries with a condensed section for closed distilleries and new start-ups.  Each page is combed for updates, new releases and developments are added with a product shot whilst lighter “Meet the Manager” interviews are interspersed between the A-Z list.

The world whiskies section grows larger each year with a deluge of new entries including nine for the USA. If you aren’t sated by now, the yellow pages examine the business of whisky with “The Whisky Year That Was” editorial, statistics and histograms covering consumption, exports and market share together with a list of 500 new whisky releases.

However, these data are fascinating particularly if your trade depends on it, yet most whisky consumers probably don’t give a hoot about forecasted growth in Eastern Europe or Latin America but global distribution and the state of each company does matter, as it ultimately influences what whisky is in your glass.

Other than becoming a Whisk(e)y Yearbook and embracing bourbon and rye, there is little this book doesn’t do. I hope I’m preaching to the converted, but if you’ve not explored the Malt Whisky Yearbook by now, you really ought to get on board.

4 Responses to “Guest post: review of “Malt Whisky Yearbook (2011 Edition)”

  1. Red_Arremer says:

    Fully agreed– bourbon competes directly with scotch and irish and I’m sure most whose “trade depends on” whisky would enjoy seeing bourbon trends too. The “sure I’ll taste some scotch, but I’m really more of a bourbon person” folks are ones that the industry should really scrutinizing.

    • Scribe says:

      Red, I applaud your comment re: bourbon, and seeing the holistic picture of the whisky drinker. When I first started drinking Scotch in earnest — not as long as some here — I was able to snare at a reasonable price (for me!) a Glenrothes 1974. While normally a peat lover, that one always brings back great memories. Sadly, as Scotch prices have continued to climb, I find I have more bottles of bourbon in the liquor cabinet — sure, still have my Ardbegs and Lagas, but the “blend” (if you’ll pardon the term!) between bourbon and scotch is more balanced.

  2. Thomas W says:

    Please – have the reviews be more based on the overall impression of the reviewer, and not just consist of a flat description (plus a few lines of emphasizing how nice a read it is).

    I bought this book, and the brilliance and truly current nature of it does not at all shine through these paragraphs. And BTW, Offringas essay could better have been left out.

    (I promise to not ramble in the near future! – Sorry!)

  3. patrick says:

    I really enjoy reading the book every year to have a summary of the changes in the whisky world over a period of 12 months. In addition, it is refreshed every year, with a new set of high quality articles.

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