Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser

A new book is being released on March 27th featuring  writings about beer and whisky to honour the memory of the inimitable Michael Jackson.

Many beer lovers considered Michael as one of the foremost authorities on the topic – while an equal number of whisky drinkers considered Michael to be THE authority on whisky. Michael was arguably the most influential writer on beer and whisky in recent memory.

The book is being published by Classic Expressions and includes contributions from contributions by Stephen Beaumont, Julie Bradford, Dave Broom, Ian Buxton, John Hansell, Charles MacLean, Hans Offringa, F Paul Pacult, Roger Protz, Lucy Saunders, Conrad Seidl, Gavin D Smith, and Carolyn Smagalski.
All of the writers contributed the work without fee and all profits from the sale of the book go to benefit the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the UK.

Renowned Drinks Writers Collaborate on Charity Project to Honour Michael Jackson
Leading international writers on beer and whisky have joined together in a unique project to celebrate the enduring legacy of celebrated drinks writer Michael Jackson (65), who died in August 2007 having suffered from Parkinson’s disease for over a decade.  They have each donated a piece of new writing to Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser that will be launched on 27 March 2009 in London to raise much-needed funds for the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the UK.

An excerpt from the introduction by Ian Buxton:

The news of Michael Jackson’s untimely death spread rapidly through the worlds of whisky and beer. Amongst those who knew him there was a sense of shock, but scarcely of surprise: his illness, borne with stoic dignity for so long, had visibly progressed. The deterioration of his health was painfully obvious and, on several occasions prior to his death, he had seemed gravely ill.
So news of his death was a shock, but not a surprise. Within an hour the plan for this book had formed, yet I did not act for some while on the initial impulse. There were others more qualified, I reasoned, others who knew Michael better, others with greater resources. I knew also that there would be other plans: a Memorial Service, perhaps, and commemorative bottling of his favourite beers or whiskies.


Michael suffered from the debilitating effects of this dreadful disease with grace and true Yorkshire grit for many years. It is fitting, then, that all profits from the publication of this book will be donated to the Parkinson’s Disease Society of the UK. To this end, I add particular thanks to you, the purchaser, for buying this book. You may never see the good that this has done, but it is appreciated and valued more than you can know.


Whatever your tipple, savour it with the knowledge that Michael Jackson is by your side – a reliable, robust and modest guide whose memory and influence lives on.

John Hansell, drinks writer and publisher of Malt Advocate tells me:

Michael was my mentor. I wouldn’t have chosen this career path if it weren’t for him. He was also my friend. He stayed at our house. He loved our cat (more than I ever will!). After press events we would sneak out to a local pub and have a pint or two together and just chat about anything. I miss him dearly.

Gavin D. Smith is one of the world’s leading (and prolific) whisky writers with 19 books, he’s also contributing editor of Whisky Pages:

It’s both a pleasure and a privilege to have been asked to contribute to this volume of essays. I feel I’m in distinguished company! It seems a great way of commemorating Michael and celebrating his immense contribution to drinks writing. I think he would have liked the idea of a book of new material such as this, and there’s a marvelous variety of topics and styles for the reader to enjoy.

Stephen Beaumont, Beer writer and scribe of World of Beer adds:

I thought it a great honour to be invited to contribute to this book, and was particularly happy to be allowed to expound upon a topic — the contextualization of taste — which I think Michael would have appreciated. Electing to publish a collection of writings on beer and whisky, rather than memories of Michael, was also a stroke of brilliance, I thought.I have not as yet seen all the essays, but I certainly know or know of all the authors, and expect that “Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser” is going to make for some damn good reading!

The book will be available on March 27th (Michael Jackson’s birthday) on the Classic Expressions site and soon at leading whisky retailers, independent brewers and other outlets, priced at £12.99 (UK), €14.99 (Europe) and $18.99 (USA).

The Drammies: First ever acceptance dance

From the guys at

What can only loosely be described as a victory “dance”.

This is a total honour for us and something we really hadn’t expected in a million years; To be nominated was a total buzz, to win it is just unbelievable.
To show our appreciation, Joel and I made the following short acceptance speech. I hope you appreciate it!

And now…the winners of the 2008 Drammies

Some of the categories were VERY close. Some were landslides. And positions changed with each day’s votes tallied…But in the end the people have spoken and here are the winners of the 2008 Drammie Awards.

Glenmorangie (LVMH) should be very proud of their showing this year with five nominations resulting in three 1st place medals and one 3rd place. Followed by Bruichladdich with four nominations and four 2nd place finishes. And Edrington with four nominations and one 1st place and two 3rd place finishes.

Congratulations to ALL nominees!

One significant point of order on voting and how votes were counted.

We looked VERY closely at all of the votes – and anything that so much as hinted of impropriety was disregarded.

What was worthy of being disregarded?

  1. Suspicious Volumes from industry domains – I don’t want to create a misconception. Industry people were certainly allowed to vote in the awards – there are a lot of industry people who read this site. It was the volume of emails from single domains that created a problem for me. So floods of emails with similar votes from industry domains were disregarded. (Please Note: We had NO problem with this issue this year!)
  2. Single votes – There were some nominees who let their fans and friends know that they were up for an award. Nothing wrong with that – BUT all votes that came in which consisted of a single vote, for a single product in a single category were disregarded.
  3. Voting in a bloc – You certainly did not have to have an opinion on every category – most people did not. And as stated in #2 above, single votes were disregarded. But if someone submitted votes only in categories in which a single company’s products were nominated – and only voted for those products, the votes were disregarded.
  4. Uninformed votes – A couple of votes were disregarded for specific reasons. There was no ill intent in these votes, BUT when a statement was included that said (for example) “I haven’t tried any of these products, but like the idea of a “Coffee-flavoured malt”, then the vote was disregarded. You get the idea.

The Drammies were created to be, above all, a “People’s Choice” award and to try to disregard the influence that the industry has over the spirits writers and periodicals that generally grant the awards that get touted.

No fees here. Only nominations for the more interesting things out there, and awards for (hopefully) the most deserving products.

So without further ado, your winners…

Best Packaging/ Marketing Campaign

One of the closest races with Elements of Islay & Bruichladdich Octomore tying for 2nd place – and Glenmorangie Signet walking away with the prize.

WINNER Glenmorangie Signet 25.00%

2. Elements of Islay    22.92%
2. Bruichladdich Octomore    22.92%
3. Highland Park 40 YO    14.58%
4. Ardbeg Blasda    10.42%
5. Tuthilltown’s Hudson Bay    4.17%

Bang for the Buck

At around $100 US, the HP 18 isn’t exactly cheap – but enough of you think it’s worth a lot more.

WINNER Highland Park 18 yo 48.98%

2. Black Bottle    16.33%
3. Famous Grouse    10.20%
3. Balvenie Signature 12 yo    10.20%
3. Bulleit    10.20%
4. Rittenhouse 100    4.08%

Distiller/Blender/Independent Bottler of the Year

Ardbeg was once a distillery with a cult. It’s now getting the recognition it deserves. And with Big brother Glenmorangie taking 3rd place, the People at Glenmorangie should be very proud. And remember last year’s Glenmorangie “Brand Overhaul” got second place in the “Worst Marketing Campaign” category. Apparently that is long forgotten.

WINNER Ardbeg 30.00%

2. Bruichladdich    22.00%
3. Glenmorangie    14.00%
4. Compass Box    12.00%
4. Glenora    12.00%
5. Heaven Hill    6.00%
6. Stranahans    4.00%

Most Innovative New Product

Another win for the Glenmorangie Company – and the 2nd win for this particular label. It really is something special.

WINNER Glenmorangie Signet 34.88%

2. Octomore    20.93%
3. Elements of Islay    16.28%
4. Ardbeg Blasda    13.95%
5. Black Grouse    6.98%
5. BenRiach’s “Fumosus” range    6.98%

Best New Product (whisky)

Japanese whiskies taking over the world? Maybe not yet, but this Karuizawa has been racking up accolades from whisky lovers around the world.

WINNER Karuizawa 1971 34.21%

2. Octomore    23.68%
3. Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve    15.79%
4. Balvenie Signature    13.16%
4. Parker’s Heritage 27 Year Old    13.16%

Best New Product (Non-whisky i.e., book, resource, web site, etc)

Turns out I met Neil & Joel last year in London and had drinks with them & Sukhinder Singh. Small world, huh?

WINNER 34.78%

2. Malt Whisky Yearbook 2009    32.61%
3. Whiskipedia    17.39%
4. Goodness Nose by Richard Paterson    8.70%
5. Whisky Dream by Stuart Rivans    6.52%

Most under-rated-whisky

Clynelish speaks for itself. No wonder John Glaser uses it in so many of the Compass Box blends.

WINNER Clynelish 14 38.64%

2. Scapa 14    25.00%
3. Glengoyne 17    15.91%
4. Amrut    11.36%
5. Bulleit    9.09%

Worst Marketing Campaign

Despite Ken Grier’s excellent rationale for the Rankin campaign, our voters selected it, by a vast majority, as the worst campaign. Sorry guys.

WINNER” Macallan Rankin 60.53%

2. (rī)1 (Rye One) by Jim Beam    39.47%

The Drammies: Polls are Closed

The Polls are closed. The votes are being tabulated.

Winners will be announced Monday, March 9th…

March Bourbon Tasting: New York

Join Southern Hospitality NYC for a March Bourbon Tasting

Wednesday March 18th at 7:00pm

Learn about and taste 6 Straight & Small Batch Bourbons from two of the most influential bourbon distilleries in Kentucky hosted by our in house Bourbon Sommelier Chris Russell.

Jim Beam * Buffalo Trace * Knob Creek * Eagle Rare * Bookers * Blanton’s

$25 per person.

To Purchase tickets log on to

Southern Hospitality NYC

1460 Second Avenue (between 76th & 77th Streets)

New York, NY 10021


Reader Question: American Whiskey Tasting


I have been a reader of your blog for the last few years. First of all thanks for taking the time to do it. I have a question that I thought you might have some opinions on, and might be interesting for your readers as well.
First a small bit of background, I live in DC and some friends and I have been organizing small (15-20 attendee) Scotch tastings about every 6 months, we’ve been picking regions and having 4 or 5 different scotches to sample (usually 2 or 3 $40-$50 bottles and 1 or 2 $70-$90 bottles). It’s been a lot of fun, and I think we and our friends have gotten too snooty for our own good, and the good of our pocket books.
So, for this next time around we decided to be a little cheap/patriotic and have an American whiskey tasting. Myself and a few of my roommates have begun some private research, and I have had real difficulty finding whiskies that stand out. Do you have any recommendations? I’d just like to find a few whiskeys that are complex enough to discuss as well as enjoy.
Thanks so much for your time, 
Nathan C.
My short list response:
  • Maker’s Mark is one of my favorites…and different than most Bourbons in that it uses wheat and no Rye.
  • Bulleit is a fantastic Bourbon at a good price.
  • Buffalo Trace and it’s slightly more expensive older brother Eagle Rare are both fantastic whiskies.
  • Stranahan’s (Colorado Single Malt) is really really good.
  • Jim Beam Black is a great whiskey for the price
  • Russel Reserve and Russle Reserve Rye are tops and I suggest that you include a rye whiskey in the tasting.
  • If you DO choose only one Rye – select Sazerac…the 6 year old. It is amazing and I use it a lot.

And don’t give me crap for leaving your favourite off the short list . . . there are so many American whiskies available that this was not meant to be an exhaustive list of excellent whiskies – but it was a list of readily available, priced right whiskies that anyone looking to explore American whiskies should try.

Of Course there are a number of other American Whiskies I enjoy – Pappy Van Winkle 15 year old Family Reserve; Four Roses, Bernheim, Woodford Reserve, Basil Hayden, Old Forrester – are among my favourites, but availability can be sporadic or,  to be completely honest, didn’t spring to mind immediately.

Anyway, feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments for the good of Nathan, his friends and other American Whisky drinkers.

The Spirit of Speyside – Glenfarclas Distillery events

Considering a trip to Speyside? Why not wait until early May when you can experience the Spirit of Speyside festival in all its glory.

Our friends at Glenfarclas have announced their schedule of events, but all of the distilleries will host events during the festival.

Glenfarclas celebrates The Spirit of Speyside – 1st to 10th May 2009

This year the festival is the anchor for Homecoming’s Whisky Month, in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, and runs for ten days from the 1st of May. The Glenfarclas program will include tours for the distillery, tutored nosings and tastings, a Glenfarclas Dinner, a walk to the distillery’s water source and a Glenfarclas Race Night for charity.

New Spirit to Glenfarclas 105
Friday 1st May 2009 11.00 – 12.30
Zero to Glenfarclas 105 in ninety minutes: After a tour of family owned Glenfarclas, George Grant will lead you through a tasting. Starting with new spirit and then a series of eight cask samples, you will experience how Glenfarclas matures over time. To finish, a dram of legendary Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength. £18.00.

Glenfarclas Tasting at the Mash Tun, Aberlour
Saturday 2nd May 2009 15.00 – 1700
Informal Glenfarclas tasting at the Mash Tun in Aberlour with George Grant.

Glenfarclas Dinner at Craggan Mill Restaurant, Grantown-on-Spey
Sunday 3rd May 2009 19.00 – 22.00
Enjoy a four course Glenfarclas Whisky Dinner at Craggan Mill Restaurant, Grantown-on-Spey. Graham Harvey and Sheila McConachie, chef/patrons of Craggan Mill, and co-authors of the award winning book The Whisky Kitchen, will present a four course dinner, with each course inspired by an expression of Glenfarclas. To start, the Velouté of Haggis with Glenfarclas 15 Years Old, which featured in Graham’s winning menu for the 2007 Spirit of Speyside Chef Competition. Robert Ransom, of family owned Glenfarclas, will introduce an expression of Glenfarclas to accompany each course. £37.00.

Glenfarclas Lottery Tour and Tasting
Monday 4th May 2009 11.00 – 12.55
After a tour of Glenfarclas, George Grant, Brand Ambassador, and sixth generation of the family that own and manage the distillery will present a tasting of six whiskies of the same age as the winning numbers in the previous Saturday’s National Lottery draw. All those of 12 years and older will be selected from The Family Casks, a unique collection of single cask whisky, with at least one cask bottled for every year from 1952 to 1994. For those younger than 12 years old, George will select cask samples of the appropriate age to present. Keep your fingers crossed for high numbers! £30.00.

Glenfarclas Tour & Tasting
Tuesday 5th May 2009 14.00 – 15.55
Enjoy a tour of Family owned Glenfarclas, after which Kate Wright will introduce you to a selection of four of her favourite expressions of Glenfarclas, including one of The Family Casks. £15.00.

Glenfarclas Tour & Tasting
Thursday 7th May 2009 – 14.00 – 15.55
Enjoy a tour of Family owned Glenfarclas, after which Ian McWilliam will introduce you to a selection of four of his favourite expressions of Glenfarclas, including one of The Family Casks. £15.00.

Glenfarclas Walk to the Water Source
Friday 8th May 2009 – 11.00 – 14.45
Enjoy an afternoon walk to the Glenfarclas water source, on Ben Rinnes, with Robert Ransom. Where could be better to enjoy a dram of Glenfarclas 105? This is a hill walk over rough ground, so bring walking boots, waterproofs, warm clothes and a packed lunch. Weather permitting you should be rewarded with a fantastic view of Speyside. Relax after the walk with tea and shortbread at the distillery visitor centre. Please do not bring dogs. £6.00.

Glenfarclas Charity Race Night, with The Whisky Shop Dufftown
Friday 8th of May 20.00 – 22.30
To celebrate the sponsorship of a series of cross country races at Cheltenham by Glenfarclas we are off to the races. During the evening there will be 6 races for you to flutter on. And between each race Kate Wright from Glenfarclas will hold a whisky tasting. Proceeds will be donated to Cancer Research UK. £15.00.

For full details on the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival visit and

The Drammies: Voting Closes Soon

Just back from a short but much needed holiday in the Cayman Islands (Happy Birthday, Stephanie) to a virtual stack of votes.

Remember the voting closes THIS Friday (March 6th) and results will be announced soon afterward.

Also, apparently there’s a brief bio of yours truly in Whisky Magazine #78 – haven’t seen it yet.