The world of Scottish whisky is reeling this week after it was revealed in the 2015 edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, a book considered by many to be the gold standard for whisky reviews, that a rather obscure Japanese whisky had taken top honors on Murray’s 100 point rating scale. Also, to add insult to injury, no Scotch finished in the top five of the reviewer’s picks.
The Japanese bottling which scored a nearly impossible 97.5 out of 100 is the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013. It was matured, according to Murray, “in Spanish sherry casks, lending it a ‘huge oloroso signature; nutty, thick, dry, as rounded as a snooker ball.” He also praised its “nose of exquisite boldness” and finish of “light, teasing spice.”
Murray said, that by comparison, no Scottish single malt at the moment “can get anywhere near.” The writer was also quite tough on the Scotch industry as a whole, saying that despite a handful of top quality whiskies from that part of the world, “some ‘old world’ distilleries are now beginning to churn out drab drams and mediocre malts.”
“Where were the complex whiskies in the prime of their lives,” said Murray in a statement. “Where were the blends which offered bewildering layers of depth? It is time for a little dose of humility…to get back to basics. To realise that something is missing.”
Other whiskey releases that finished out in the top 5 out of a herd of 4,700 whiskies include two American bourbons, William Larue Weller in second and Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old in third. On top of this, beating out any Scottish whisky for European Whisky of the Year, according to the Daily Mail, was an English expression!
Should you want to get hold of a bottle of the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013, it is said only 18,000 are floating around out there in the world, pricing somewhere in the neighborhood of $160. It has already been in the market for a bit though, so if you find a bottle you should snap it up without a second thought or it may not be there come tomorrow.
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...