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Which whisky journalist do you prefer?

Take part in our whisky polls and votes. You can also post your own polls in this forum.

Which whisky journalist do you prefer?

Jim Murray
29
62%
Michael Jackson
18
38%
 
Total votes : 47

Which whisky journalist do you prefer?

Postby Virginia Gentleman » Mon Dec 19, 2005 2:08 am

I have noticed that two of the more well known whisky journalists have very different tastes. For example Jim Murray scores Glenmorangie 10 year old 94 points in his 2005 Whiskey Bible. In Michael Jackson's Complete Guide To Single Malt Scotch 5th Edition he scores the 10 year old Glenmorangie only 80 points.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 19, 2005 3:45 am

And the answer is...as many as possible. Even if you find one whose tastes match well with yours, a variety of opinion is always best. I know that, for example, Nick finds Murray especially useful, but there is no single Whisky Avatar in my book.

That said, I think I enjoy Jackson as a writer the most.
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Postby Badmonkey » Mon Dec 19, 2005 7:25 am

I find Jackson's writing style more evocative than Murray's, but the scope of Murray's writings on whisky is breathtaking. I find myself jumping back and forth between their books and am always better for it. These days I read more Murray.
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Postby Nock » Mon Dec 19, 2005 11:03 am

I will agree with most everything that has been said

". . . as many as possible . . . a variety of opinions is always best"
"the scope of Murray's writings on whisky is breathtaking."
"whisky journalists have very different tastes."

with that said I would have to admit that 3 out of 4 times I am going to agree with Murray over Jackson. I am beginning to wonder if maybe Jackson is not updating his tasting all that often. :?

That is the nice thing about Murray, he has little side notes to tell you if it is a new tasting for that edition.

The other nice thing about Murray is that the more I read of him the more I understand his taste and what he looks for in a malt. And while I don't always agree, I at least can understand where he is coming from. With Jackson I am adrift in a sea of descriptive uncertainty. I just can't quite figure out where he is coming from (aside from a strongly formed sense of nostalgia)

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Postby Paul A Jellis » Mon Dec 19, 2005 12:56 pm

Out of that long list I would go for Jackson every time. I don't rate Murray at all.

My personal preference would be Dave Broom, as a journalist I think he is better than both of them, but, as he 'aint on the list, he 'aint getting in.

Cheers and Merry Christmas

Paul
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Postby Admiral » Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:06 am

You cannot compare MJ's versus JM's scores, because they employ completely different scoring methodologies.

MJ starts at 50 and works his way up.


JM starts at 100 and starts his way down - with a system that scores four different features out of 25 each to arrive at a total.


Hence, MJ will score no lower than 50, whereas JM has several that come in below.

Cheers,
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:56 am

Good points Admiral, and JM updates his Bible with new tasting notes annually while MJ comes out with a new book every few years.
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Postby Virginia Gentleman » Tue Dec 20, 2005 4:23 am

Paul A Jellis wrote:Out of that long list I would go for Jackson every time. I don't rate Murray at all.

My personal preference would be Dave Broom, as a journalist I think he is better than both of them, but, as he 'aint on the list, he 'aint getting in.

Cheers and Merry Christmas

Paul


I didn't include Dave Broom because as far as I know he doesn't have a book out that rates whiskies. If he does I would love to read it.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Dec 20, 2005 4:41 am

It may be that the two scoring systems are not directly comparable, but it's not hard to understand when one or the other rates a malt highly, and when he doesn't. It matters not to me that Jackson rates, for example, Dunglas 56 points higher than Murray; what matters is that Jackson's 73 indicates an unexceptional dram, while Murray's 17 indicates an execrable one. Actually, the main difference between the two in my mind is that, even when he scores a whisky very low, Jackson is hesitant to say anything any more disparaging than "disappointing", while Murray has no compunctions about slagging something he thinks deficient. I have no trouble finding either trait admirable in its way.
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Tue Dec 20, 2005 12:27 pm

I didn't include Dave Broom because as far as I know he doesn't have a book out that rates whiskies. If he does I would love to read it.


True, he may not have a book out but he is a regular taster for Whisky Magazine and his tasting notes can be read on this website.

Cheers

Paul
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Postby WestVanDave » Tue Dec 20, 2005 4:09 pm

I think it's no surprise that I am a Jim Murray fan... and I'll admit that I don't always agree with his scores - but the pleasure is that I can follow his methodology and can appreciate the transition of a whisky from nose - to taste - to finish - to balance and all the stops and starts along the way. Murray's updates and depth to his tastings keeps it real for me. It's a sharing of an experience - rather than just one person's opinion. When we differ - I can understand why...

I've enjoyed Jackson's writings - but can not connect to the flashes of flavours in bullet point form - and the lack of updates. I do enjoy the background and distillery info. As for the tasting notes and resulting scores - I'd have to agree with Nock's statement:
adrift in a sea of descriptive uncertainty


I would also add a nod to the collective "whisky journalism" of the Malt Maniacs - as being a great resource and wealth of "not shy" info...

Cheers, Dave.

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Postby ScotchBlog » Wed Dec 21, 2005 5:55 am

Paul A Jellis wrote:I didn't include Dave Broom because as far as I know he doesn't have a book out that rates whiskies. If he does I would love to read it.


Was the poll to rate your favorite taster or journalist? I'm also not sure the term "journalist" fits either Michael or Jim. I think of them as Whisky writers. As they concentrate on books and editorials and not generally on articles.

By the Way, Dave has several books out. And he writes tasting notes for every issue (just about) of Whisky Magazine.

I know, and read, both MJ and JM and eagerly await each one's new books...but I think even they would agree - people should realize there's a big world of whisky writing out there.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Dec 21, 2005 6:05 am

And why are whisky writers not journalists?

Perhaps the purpose of the poll was not as clearly defined as it might have been, but it's evident to me that Va Gent intended to ask us which of the two journalists who have published relatively comprehensive books of tasting notes we feel most sympathetic to.
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Postby barrelproof » Wed Dec 21, 2005 10:52 am

I prefer Jim Murray
Because I can understand his tasting notes :D
but I've got some books from mr. jackson as well.
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Postby Iain » Wed Dec 21, 2005 11:45 am

Both chaps contribute articles to newspapers and magazines, as well as writing their books, so I can't see any problem with the term "journalists". But "whisky writers" seems fair too.

But then again - there are some who might say that MJ is best-known in the wider world for his books and articles about beer. And both write about whiskey too. So maybe we should settle for

"writers specialising in articles, books and editorials relating to alcoholic beverages derived from grain"

Mr Picky would probably like that. Or he might want to make it a little more specific?

:D
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Postby ScotchBlog » Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:55 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:And why are whisky writers not journalists?

Perhaps the purpose of the poll was not as clearly defined as it might have been, but it's evident to me that Va Gent intended to ask us which of the two journalists who have published relatively comprehensive books of tasting notes we feel most sympathetic to.


Would you call Mark Twain a writer or a Journalist?
He was both, but most people know him for writing books and stories:)
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Postby WestVanDave » Wed Dec 21, 2005 3:46 pm

Iain wrote: ...So maybe we should settle for

"writers specialising in articles, books and editorials relating to alcoholic beverages derived from grain"

Mr Picky would probably like that. Or he might want to make it a little more specific?

:D


OK - let's narrow this down some more:

writers with beards - who's initials include either "J" or "M" (or both) specialising in articles, books and editorials relating to alcoholic beverages derived from grain... 8)

FWIW - Jim Murray started as a journalist (sports focussed) and has also written a book about the history of his local football (soccer to us North Americans) team...

Cheers, Dave
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Dec 21, 2005 4:25 pm

...and who perpetually and badly need a haircut....
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Postby Iain » Wed Dec 21, 2005 4:52 pm

Thanks lads. We're getting there now. To put it succinctly, one
should define them as:

"Writers with beards - who's initials include either "J" or "M" (or both), and who perpetually and badly need a haircut - specialising in articles, books and editorials relating to alcoholic beverages derived from grain and who present masterclasses on the appreciation of one or more of those beverages... "


Oops. I nearly forgot to add, "...and who write for Whisky Magazine or have done so in the past..." :roll:

That should cover it. Unless we've forgotten something?
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Postby ScotchBlog » Wed Dec 21, 2005 5:44 pm

Now that you've defined it that tightly...
I still can't decide which guy I prefer :)
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Postby Sándor » Wed Dec 21, 2005 9:12 pm

With all respect for both, I prefer Jim's writing over Michael because it seems pretty obvious to me (IMHO, that is :wink: ) that Jim seems to be (a lot) more objective in his findings. Compare the scores from both writers to find out that Michael tends a lot more than Jim to have very slight differences between bottlings from the same distillery. And what also fell to my attention is that the older the whisky gets, the higher the scores of Michael.

Judge yourself :D !


Regards,

Sándor
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Postby patrick dicaprio » Thu Dec 22, 2005 3:11 am

comparing apples to oranges. i love reading Jackson if only because of his writing style.

Pat
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Postby Frodo » Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:03 pm

I feel I can understand MJ's reviews better than the other guy. I don't nessisarily agree with MJ's scores, but I can usually read between the lines. MJ doesn't do non-Scotch too well...
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Postby WestVanDave » Fri Dec 23, 2005 12:47 am

Frodo wrote:MJ doesn't do non-Scotch too well...


Yah think??? I was under the impression that MJ's roots were as a "Beer Writer/Critic" and that he excelled at that... and from that success he transgressed (not transdressed) into Whisky...

Cheers, Dave.
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Postby ScotchBlog » Fri Dec 30, 2005 2:31 am

WestVanDave wrote:Yah think??? I was under the impression that MJ's roots were as a "Beer Writer/Critic" and that he excelled at that... and from that success he transgressed (not transdressed) into Whisky...

Cheers, Dave.


MJ made his name as Beer critic. I attended a tutored tasting that MJ conducted around 14 years ago in Washington DC. His Beer Hunter series of videos and books are quite popular - he even had a Computer-based Beer Hunter program at least that long ago - the man is always ahead of his time.
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Postby Frodo » Sat Dec 31, 2005 7:00 am

WestVanDave wrote:
Frodo wrote:MJ doesn't do non-Scotch too well...


Yah think??? I was under the impression that MJ's roots were as a "Beer Writer/Critic" and that he excelled at that... and from that success he transgressed (not transdressed) into Whisky...

Cheers, Dave.


Sorry, I should have clarified that I was talking about whisky only. I haven't seen him do bourbon on the tasting notes under "whiskies of the world". I have seen a book about beer with him as the author.
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Postby sunsolid » Sun Jan 01, 2006 8:01 pm

I find that both have their merits, but I had to give it to MJ simply because I'm more familiar with his writings. However, I do find JM's writing to be a lot less flowery and veiled than MJ's. Also, what's the deal with MJ and Macallan? Dont get me wrong, I like some Macallans a lot, but the man seems obsessed wth them, almost to the point where he seems to lose objectivity in the romance of it all.
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Postby bamber » Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:10 pm

I started off preferring MJ but now JM is a clear winner. MJ's scores for Macallan, coupled with out of date tasting notes in his recent book stopped me buying it. I do find his uptodate Scotch tasting notes useful though.

MJ's tasting notes for Bourbon are a little bizarre to me, but maybe that's because I spent about 18 months drinking Bourbon, with a glass in one hand and JM's book in the other.
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:32 pm

I haven't voted on this one because to be honest i prefer David Broom and Martine Nouet ....... :D

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 03, 2006 12:55 pm

Whilst I don't question JM's knowledge, I do get the feeling that he writes for himself a little bit whereas MJ seems to write for others. Does that make sense?
It's like a novelist compared to a journalist. One writes his own opinion the other reports the other's opinion.
I like MJ for the balance he brings, even when recounting his personal experiences. JM is too much of a tub-thumper for me, though I will, of course, still read his offerings.
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Writters

Postby corbuso » Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:04 pm

If you look at the writting skills, I would go definitley for Jackson, who is a whisky writter. By comparison, Jim Murray is know for his whisky bible, but he is quite far behind Jackson in writting.
As writters, I would have also mentioned Charles McLean and Philip Hills.
If your question is not about writing, but whisky tastes and scoring. then I would go for Jim Murray.

Try to define your post better next time.
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Postby bamber » Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:48 pm

Crieftan wrote:Whilst I don't question JM's knowledge, I do get the feeling that he writes for himself a little bit whereas MJ seems to write for others. Does that make sense?
It's like a novelist compared to a journalist. One writes his own opinion the other reports the other's opinion.
I like MJ for the balance he brings, even when recounting his personal experiences. JM is too much of a tub-thumper for me, though I will, of course, still read his offerings.


I know what you mean. By striving to be independent, I sometimes feel that JM may be subconsiously skewing his scores away from accepted wisdom (some of the time).

I would cite his relatively high scores for JB white label, cheap blends and lesser known whiskies as evidence of this trait.

BUT .... better that than toeing the party line.
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Postby Admiral » Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:21 pm

Jim Murray is know for his whisky bible, but he is quite far behind Jackson in writting


Corbuso, have you actually read Jim Murray's "proper" books?

JM made a name for himself as an established author LONG before the Whisky Bible came out, which was only as recently as 2003.

Read some of his books that were published in the mid-late 1990's, such as 'The Complete Guide to Whisky', and so on. In fact, I suspect that if you look at JM's books on Bourbon and Irish whiskies, it's likely that JM has actually published more books than MJ?

Whether you like his style or not is your call, but it seems a little strange to say he is "quite far behind Jackson in writing".

Cheers,
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Postby corbuso » Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:40 am

In addition to the whisky bible, I only read one book of Jim Murrary as well as many of his articles in different magazines

However, I really enjoyed the World Guide of Whisky from Jackson and Scotland and its whiskies.

I prefer Jackson's style, but I should then have a look at Murray's previous books.

Thanks for the advice Admiral
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Postby Scotchio » Thu Jan 05, 2006 2:16 pm

Id go with Murray as he is more up to date and has a more direct involvement with the industry. He seems to rate whiskies comparitively for each distillery so you get a sense of good and bad examples of each product whereas jackson seems to rate the distillery and then rate bottles close to the distillery rating. Both Jackson and the malt maniacs seem to value age and strength of flavours above subtlety.Ratings between the 3 seem to be wildly varied except perhaps for Brora and Ardbeg. Murray is the only one who seems to appreciate the delicacy of young Speysiders. The others seem to dismiss their lightness. So if you are a whisky explorer I would follow Murray. If you are taken by big flavours and intensity the MMs and Jackson may be the best guide.
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