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Issue 39 - The best Scotch malts in the world

Whisky Magazine Issue 39
May 2004


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The best Scotch malts in the world

Compiling a top 90 best Scottish malts list is as ambitious a project as this magazine has ever undertook. Dominic Roskrowdescribes how it was done

A definitive list of the top malt whiskies in the world, counted down from number 90 to number one. Is such a thing possible?

There is a strong argument against, and without doubt we have set ourselves up to be shot down. After all, any such list is subjective, and what if something glaringly obvious is missed out?

That's what happened in rock magazine Classic Rock's definitive guide to the best live albums of all time recently. Absent not just from the top 50 but from the top 10, and blatantly so to anyone who follows the genre, was Deep Purple's Made In Japan. Hundreds of complaint letters later, the magazine admitted that on initial lists it was destined for the top 10, but by the time the magazine appeared, it had gone.

With whisky it's much, much more complex than for rock albums. For a starter, there are no legal recordings out there commanding a £1000 price tag. Few rock albums come out in limited batches and the biggest rock names always release their CDs worldwide through huge distributors. But our view was that if it could be done, it should be. It's a good way of taking stock and focusing attention on whisky in general, and anyway, people like lists.

Why did we do it? Because it's fun and informative.

You can react to lists two ways: some look at the top 10 and ask ‘where can I get them?' Others look at the top 10 and then argue over a dram why the list is wrong.

We know that the final top 20 will not be accepted by everybody, but we have gone to some effo...

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