Posts Tagged ‘The Whisky Bible’

Disney have unveiled the poster for their forthcoming new Star Wars spin-off trilogy titled ‘Star Wars Episode MMXVII: Revenge Of The Ewok’.


Probably as good as Phantom Menace

The poster has met with both confusion and skepticism from fans of the original films. Professional Star Wars watcher Alex Belcher said:

“Those copper coloured things are obviously new types of Battle Droids, although I can’t quite determine whether they are going to be part of the Separatist Droid Army or the Trade Federation Droid Army. Then of course there is the prominence of the Ewoks in this poster, although I’m not sure how I feel about the kind of makeover they have received. They also appear to have a distinctive yellowing of the eyes and skin. I can only assume this means that we are going to encounter a new sub-species of Jaundice-prone Ewoks. Or, as I have long suspected, the post-traumatic stress following their harrowing conflict on the Forest Moon Of Endor has led to widespread alcohol dependency amongst the Ewok tribe and liver cirrhoses is rife. Will this instalment focus on the Rebel Alliance’s shoddy track record with regards to social responsibility and collateral damage amongst the Galaxy? I am happy that they’ve brought Luke Skywalker back for this film as the large overlay image clearly suggests. Although, I am also worried by how much Mark Hamill has clearly let himself go. The other thing I find quite confusing is why they have rows and rows of what is clearly a large quantity of wooden clad R2D2s. Will we be visiting some kind of droid assembly line/factory that also doubles as a Devaronian Garden Centre?” 

Meanwhile, part time Ewok impersonator Jim Murray said:

“Thank fuck, some more work at last!”


Jim Murray

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Whiskysponge journalists tasked with sifting through the eleven million strong haul of documents known as the Panama Papers have now found at least 800,000 separate references to Jim Murray’s hat.


The Panama Papers detail the tax evading machinations of the global elite who use complex off-shore accounting to effectively steal from the tax paying citizenry that makes possible their vast and profitable enterprises in the first place. Or, as renowned naturalist David Attenborough said: “It’s a lot of papers about cunts and the cunty shit they get up to – they should really be called the ‘Cunt Papers’.”

The number of references to Murray’s hat has been pounced upon by experts in whisky and international finance who say it is finally the long sought after proof that Jim Murray is a fictitious and elaborate tax beneficial front for an illegal Panamanian hat cartel.

Tax expert Jan Birch from the Highland accountancy firm of ‘Speyburn, Drumnadrochit & Salmon Ltd’, said:

“We’ve long known that The Whisky Bible was being used as a fictitious enterprise to mask a sinister, global Panamanian Hat empire. The trick is that it’s so boring and confusing no one can begin to deal with it without losing the will to live within five minutes. We’ve always suspected that Murray’s hat was the brains behind the operation and that he was just a patsy hired to form part of the elaborate deception. It’s genius really.”

The papers reveal how Murray’s real identity is actually Mike Cottrell who played the second Ewok warrior in 1983’s Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi. Knowing that the game was up Cottrell came clean and told Whiskysponge journalists:

“It’s a fair cop. I was down on my luck and needed work. I got this call from someone who sounded a lot like a hat offering me literally decades of work as long as I didn’t mind remaining in character and pretending to know a lot about whisky. I read the brief and it basically just involved lots of arse groping, showing off and blatant fibbing. I signed the contract before I’d even got to the end! It’s been fun but a good thing can’t last forever I suppose. I just hope the hat does alright on its own.” 

When queried about all the books Cottrell said:

“Oh that wasn’t me, those were all the hat’s work. I mean you only have to read them to get the sense they were written by an inanimate object.” 

The hat itself has so far refused to comment. It was last seen boarding Rupert Murdoch’s private jet at Heathrow last Friday.

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Crown Royal Rye

I don’t particularly want to write a serious piece about this annual festival of inanity but I think the repetitive nature of these Jim Murray ‘Whisky Of The Year’ announcements and all the predictable blether they entail is becoming tiresome to satirise. The most glaring issue with the whole debacle is that there is no such thing as ‘the best’ whisky in the world, or even the best whisky of the year. The broad olfactory church of our collective palates ensures a vibrant and healthy disagreement over such matters between beginners and world class experts alike. Variety remains – at least for now – the spice of life and whisky.

Apart from this glaring flaw that too few seem willing, or able, to challenge Murray on, there is further devilment in the nitty gritty of the whole thing. Firstly, it is clearly a publicity stunt. Murray crowns some unlikely dram his whisky of the year, one that is certain to cause contention, debate and – most crucially for him – comment in the press in the hope that it will create a knock on effect on sales of his book. It’s a cynical marketing stunt that debases the whole point of his book and further cheapens the arena of serious whisky writing and analysis. Sadly the UK broadsheets seem only too happy to acquiesce and fill up a few inches with the juicy prospect of ‘Is Scotch On The Rocks?’ or some other turgid prattle.

The crux of the matter lies in his scoring. The 100 point scale is not without its critics but I am a fan of it and use it myself when writing tasting notes. I don’t want to dissect the arguments over its use here but I will qualify why I think it is a useful and worthy device. At its core the 100 point system is a communicative device that is very useful when proffered in tandem with a detailed tasting note. The best and most consistent use of the 100 point scale in whisky has been by Serge Valentin at Whiskyfun. Serge is clear in his notes why he likes or dislikes a whisky. Over the course of reading numerous entries a picture of his whisky preferences swiftly emerges – he is renowned for his enjoyment of distillate driven spirits such as older examples of Clynelish or Bowmore and is not enamored with whiskies that reek of wood technology or excessive wine cask finishing. This added layer of extra-textual knowledge when possessed by the reader arms the notes and scores with greater resonance and depths of information. As does any reference in the tasting note to a score given – either positively or negatively – for reasons that are technical over personal. Over time a level of consistency begins to build to the point that the score in and of itself becomes meaningful and weighted with relevant information. A reader can take note of the score in conjunction with the tasting note and – in light of their own preferences and how they compare with Serge’s – make a pretty good assessment of how much they might enjoy that particular dram.

It is this level of consistency which Murray’s work is utterly lacking. His apparently arbitrary scores for all manner of different styles of whisky that bear little or no correlation leave the reader with no real impression of where his personal preferences lie – apart from his oft touted tantrums about sulphur. The net result being the scores offered contain little or no real information or value. Apart from their usefulness as leverage devices in the generation of publicity and media hot air.

I admit I have not tasted this year’s winning whisky. I have however tasted a number of Canadian, American and European Rye whiskies and I find them somewhat inconsistent but the best of them can be excellent indeed. Even if I do not find some to my taste though, I can take an organoleptic step back and judge them within the framework of their technical merit. Their level of complexity, the relationship between distillate character and oak influence/flavour, their overall balance and so on. My struggle with these kinds of whiskies – and I mean in this respect all younger cheaper whiskies from all countries – is that they just cannot by their nature access the upper register of the 100 point scale. One of the great assets of the 100 point scale is that it allows room for all whiskies of all levels of quality. From utter swill to unequivocal masterpieces, they all have a place within its boundaries. I would argue that the kind of product Murray has just crowned simply cannot achieve a score of 97 without rendering the whole scoring process meaningless. It is not to say a truly great Rye whisky of sufficient craft in production, maturity and bottling care cannot achieve top scores but basic products of any style generally just cannot.

Coincidentally won just before a rather high profile re-branding. Something which only adds further layers of stink to the whole 'awards' process.

Coincidentally won just before a rather high profile re-branding. Something which only adds further layers of stink to the whole ‘awards’ process.

The same argument can be made with the Old Pulteney 21 year old he crowned whisky of the year back in 2012. At the time I made the effort to secure a sample and found it to be worth 89 points in my book, undeniably a delicious and very worthwhile dram that I have purchased in the past and in all likelihood would do again. But there is a massive chasm between 89-91 points and 97-99. Once you get past 92 on the scale each increasing point takes on a massive weight and resonance – beyond 95 and you are into masterpiece territory and very few whiskies get there. It needs to be an incredibly sparsely populated region of the scale otherwise you render the rest of the scale meaningless – just as you should find very few spirits inhabiting the 0-10 points sector of the scale. Murray has scored so many whiskies of wildly differing character and origin from 94-97 that there is just no merit to his scores any longer – or any real avenue into some deeper understanding of his own olfactory values or preferences. You can of course fall back on the old argument of personal opinion that I alluded to at the beginning of this article and you would be fair to do so but I believe that is an argument you can only pursue so far. The notion that a young, budget level rye whisky might sit alongside the likes of the 1967 Samaroli Laphroaig, or the very finest Willet’s Bourbon or a 1967 Karuizawa does a disservice to serious and well-intentioned communication about whisky.

There is much speculation about what Murray’s motives for this might be beyond the self-evident publicity stunt. Is it a rouse to get back ‘in’ with Diageo, is it a further snub to Scotland – a country where it seems he is increasingly considered irrelevant and rarely welcomed? His absence and separateness from the mainstream whisky world is striking. A lot of people don’t like him, they find his views and attitudes ridiculous, or his rules and regulations for tastings laughable, or they simply find him unpleasant. Personally, I find him curious, I disagree with much of what he says and find his Bibles to be stiflingly arrogant but perhaps, upon reflection, the whisky world is a little more interesting for his presence. I would love to interview him one day but I doubt he’d stoop so low. The basic concept of his book is a good one, it’s just such a shame that it is so inconsistent and meaningless that it does a disservice to whisky writing where it should be a beacon.

One of the more positive arguments for Murray is that he brings new people into whisky, and while fresh interest is important it does not mean we should settle for it being him, or the way he chooses to do things being the voice that calls them forward. Someone commented on facebook on the last Whiskysponge post on this topic ‘Haters gonna hate’. This response seems to me very much part of the problem here, Murray’s cynicism begets cynicism. His book is a source of contention and frustration amongst people that hold whisky closest. I – like so many others who vent spleen about his writings on social media – only do so because we truly love whisky and would like to see it better celebrated and more accurately represented. Likewise Canadian whisky deserves not to be used by Murray as a flag with which to fan the flames of his own publicity. It deserves a more honest and passionate route to wider appreciation and discovery – not as an incidental bit player in some wider beige, commercial machinations.

Canadian Whisky no doubt deserves better.

Canadian Whisky no doubt deserves better.

Anyway, the whole thing will now begin to simmer down and we can all no doubt look forward to revisiting and re-hashing this tired old debate in a year’s time. In the meantime we can all take solace in the whiskies we love with the people we love to share them with. The very liquid that sloshes through the veins of this somewhat pathetic story is precisely the liquid that will wash away the miles of digital ink it annually accumulates.

As for Whiskysponge: normal pisstaking will be resumed imminently.

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A small man from England has purchased some shares in Crown Royal it has emerged. The man – a professional Ewok impersonator from Surrey – was drawn to the attention of parent company Diageo the other night while attempting to purchase ‘at least 90% of the company’.

The man has a keen eye for a good investment.

The man has a keen eye for a good investment.

Speaking through a three-day old glaze of his own sweat the man said:

“I just sort of had this feeling it would be a safe investment, you know. And considering I’ve been putting all my money into Scotland for years and years with sod all to show for it I’ve lately been thinking it’s time to diversify internationally. Last year’s acquisitions in the Japanese prune juice sector have proved exceptionally lucrative so I thought Canada might as well be tasty wee number for my portfolio this year.” 

He added:

“It’ll go nicely along side that vast swathe of the tar sands I bough a few months back. Just as well considering my Ewok work is drying up these days – it’s all fucking R2D2 with this generation! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m the most important man in the universe – those tour guide’s arses aren’t going to grope themselves!” 

Some faceless puddle of matter from Diageo said:

“Money. Money make nice things. Make nice whisky words. Money make words make more money make talky talky chat chat make internet space fill up make silly head brains think whisky good make buy buy make money money in nice me me tummy tummy. Me like money. Me like make sell nice whisky taste of money in face glass fizzy fizzy money willy cash bukkake golden poopoo money spunk. Put special money poo into nice cash mouth push in hard money go plop from ears and noses. Money blumpy money blumpy money blumpy. Flush….alt….delete….end programme.”

It added:

 “But we didn’t pay him, obviously.” 

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The globally esteemed wood coveter and space enthusiast Professor Jill Bumsden has just announced the launch of her new ‘White Paper’.

'Soft, luxuriously absorbent and wood friendly'

‘Soft, luxuriously absorbent and wood friendly’

Speaking at the global product launch in Houston, Texas while wearing a mark XII NASA space suit with Louis Vuitton heels, Professor Jill had this to say about the product:

“Unlike most producers of White Paper, mine comes from slow growth American White Oak trees from the Ozark Mountains. These trees are North facing which gives them larger, more supple pores which means the absorption rate is just so much higher and more efficient. The wood for my White Paper has been specially dried in hot air by getting Jim Murray to read extracts from his Bible over each stave for five minutes or so. Equivalent to three years of standard air drying. Each sheet of my White Paper is heavily toasted, lightly charred and quarter sawn to give maximum interaction between the sheet and whatever illicit spillage you are wishing to wipe away. Also they taste intensely of vanilla.” 

Professor Jill’s White Paper can be obtained from Ardbeg’s website, Tesco’s, Uncle Shane’s Spillage Emporium in Milton Keynes and the QVC Shopping Channel. Priced at £2,99 a roll it is one of the latest in a long line of innovations from Professor Jill and her team of mono-thoughted flesh-droids from the LVMH marketing department.

Regarding the White Paper’s potential uses Professor Jill added:

“It’s practical applications are myriad. You can use it to mop up any Glenmorangie you accidentally spill into your glass. Or you could wrap it around the offensive labels on NAS Ardbeg releases so you can draw your own imaginary label onto of them.  Personally, I use it to polish my wood. Good and shiny I likes it!” 

Professor Jill’s White Paper coincides with the launch or Ardbeg’s new marketing slogan:

‘Ardbeg: Putting the ‘NAS’ in ‘NASA’ since somewhere around 2007′

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Jim Murray in his bespoke tasting dungeon. "Why Do I always smell sulphur in whisky?"

Jim Murray in his bespoke tasting dungeon. “Why Do I always smell sulphur in whisky?”

In a tragic turn of events completely unrelated to the current phase of the festive retail gifting zone, Jim Murray has issued a howling cry of anguished heartache via the medium of the Daily Telegraph. Speaking from his cot while jumping up and down in a soiled nappy and crying loud, angry, sulphuric tears Mr Murray said: 

“WAAAAHHHHH! I want Bourbon. I love Bourbon! I’m fed up with smelly whisky! It’s full of sulphur and caramel and popcorn and nutella and pretzels WAAAAHHHHHH! Why is no one buying my book, why don’t more people refer to me as the world’s leading whisky expert, why do people at european whisky festivals keep shitting in my Panama hat, why can’t all scottish whisky be as a good as Ardbeg and Glenmorangie and Ardbeg and Glenmorangie and Ardbeg Serendipity and Glenmorangie and Ardbeg? Why don’t people think I’m cool when I tell them about my seventeen 25 year old, ethnically diverse girlfriends, why do people keep adding water to whisky when I’ve told them not to, why don’t people recognise my genius straight away, why isn’t everything as good as Buffalo Trace, why can’t every distillery pay me to love their whisky!?”

He dips the end in George T Stagg.

He dips the end in George T Stagg.

Leading literary critic for Facetube, Dr Elizabeth Runcible, said via her status update:

“Saw that article in the Telegraph, it inspired me to pick up a copy of The Whisky Bible. It’s so jammed with meandering inconsistencies and incomprehensible contradictions, it actually bears a striking resemblance to the proper Bible in that respect. It’s really a peerless work of satire. I mean, that must be what it’s about right…?” 

Lord Siegfried Mount Cummerbund, Drinks Editor for the Telegraph said:

“We had half a page we needed to fill with some words, this Murray chap seemed keen enough to blurt out some loose verbiage. Although being around him was testing indeed, I just let him write the article himself in the end.”

Tina Prune, the Scotch Whisky Arseociations chief officer in charge of repeatedly insisting that caramel does not affect the taste of whisky despite the glaringly obvious fact that it does and just sticking their fingers in their ears and going lalalalalalalala when anyone dares to suggest otherwise said: 

“It’s no big deal really. He’s just a small man who has an over inflated opinion of himself and thinks he’s some sort of whisky God when in actual fact he’s a mediocre journalist at best, who jumped on the whisky bandwagon long ago and is now all but discredited amongst the majority of his peers to the extent he has to pull publicity stunts like this in order to try and shift a few more copies of his book in the run up to christmas before attending Whisky Live Somalia. The best thing to do is just recognise it for the gibberish it is, turn the other cheek and get on with more important things. Having said all that we’re still going to have him killed!” 

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That's a LOT of new branches of Greggs.

That’s a LOT of new branches of Greggs.

It was revealed yesterday by a team of top UN scientists, shortly after the publication of The Whisky Bible 2014, that The Whisky Bible is in fact a complex algorithm for unlocking the secrets of the universe that will lead to humanity’s ultimate destiny among the infinite boundaries of space and our unified, peaceful spread throughout the trillions of starts and galaxies that form the fabric of known creation. Speaking from a previously top secret research facility next to a particularly large branch of Greggs in Motherwell while eating a chicken bake with a look of wonderment in her eyes, UN scientist Dr Winnifred Scargill said:

“Our suspicions were first aroused a number of years ago when it was drawn to the attention of several intelligence agencies around the globe that the Ardbeg / Glen Moray remix whisky Serendipity, had received a score of 96 out of 100. Obviously there were extensive background checks done, one by one we ruled out the possibility of it being a typo or spelling error, or even some stray whisky spilled on original lab notes. Covert operatives near Mr Murray’s ‘tasting command centre’ (pictured below) revealed that this could not possibly be the case as his tasting process was, we eventually discovered, pretty much coming home from the pub with a kebab after necking eight pints of heavy, downing a large tumbler of a whisky selected at random, then whistling the scores to his dog Bono.”

This is where the magic happens...

This is where the magic happens…

In the years that followed, each new Whisky Bible revealed itself to be something entirely other than what it purported to be. UN scientists remained baffled by the wildly incoherent scoring system, numerous brands of American whiskies that were actually identical spirits bottled with different labels receiving completely different scores. Very quickly the possibility that it was actually a serious or useful work of whisky journalism was ruled out, video footage of Jim Murray wearing a panama hat at a whisky festival in Macedonia suggested that it may be some kind of elaborate performance art but this too was soon debunked. As the situation gained complexity and the mystery deepened, so the top secret UN study was convened with scientists all over the world set to task to uncover the true meaning of the curious artefact known as ‘The Whisky Bible’. The final breakthrough came this year with the help of poncy French drinks cabal Stoat Kedgeree. As Dr Jill Bumsden explains:

“I was approached by the UN last year with the proposition of a top secret mission, which was just the sort of distraction I needed at the time from the living nightmare that is talking to people at Stoat Kedgeree who sell but don’t make whisky. Basically they wanted a whisky that no living creature with even rudimentary sensory capabilities could ever realistically score much above 75/100 and still hope to be taken seriously. Something so all-consumingly modern and middle of the road that it might finally offer some insight into the scoring system of The Whisky Bible. In one of my proudest moments as a whisky maker, I delivered Glenmorangie Ealanta, a 70cl bottle of vanilla essence that might not look out of place in one of those curious shops that sells flavoured oils and dangerous homemade gins in fancy 20cl bottles that cost £25 each. The UN said I had ‘exceeded all expectations’. Apparently Kofi Annan even nodded off while nosing it and was even heard to say ‘Meh’. Now if you’ll excuse me, by pure coincidence, we have a massive rebranding campaign to launch.”

The 'Mumford & Sons' of whisky.

The ‘Mumford & Sons’ of whisky.

Since the publication of the Whisky Bible 2014 and the revelation of a score of 97.5 for the Ealanta, UN scientists have finally been able to complete the code that has been hidden in the The Whisky Bible from the very start. Dr Winnifred Scargill explained:

“Basically it all hinges around this arbitrary number 97.5, its the key to the whole thing, we fed it, along with all the other scores, into a macbook and it gave us an app that allows us to chart a course using wormholes and dimensional loopholing to any point we choose in the universe. It’s kind of like a mash up of Contact, 2001 Space Odyssey and Event Horizon. The only downside is that its kind of killed the office buzz around the upcoming 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. We were all well excited before and now that we can instantaneously travel to the farthest flung regions of existence we’re all a bit like ‘whatever’.” 

Jim Murray has been unavailable for comment since the revelations were made last night as he is currently presenting masterclasses at Whisky Live Svalbard where mobile reception is described charitably by locals as ‘fucking extinct’. However, it is believed that next year’s Whisky Bible will provide the key to the mysteries of time travel so Mr Murray can revisit the days before he became a self-proclaimed demi-god and wasn’t widely considered a complete laughing-stock.

Seeking to uncover how he was able to achieve such scientific wonders Whiskysponge was able to reach Mr Murray’s 25 year old Mexican girlfriend Candice Fandango who said:

“Don’t bother asking Jim about it, the dog has always been the brains behind the whole thing.” 

Bono the dog: dictation assistant for The Whisky Bible and Master Of The Universe.

Bono the dog: dictation assistant for The Whisky Bible and Master Of The Universe.

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