You know what really grinds my gears? All those articles claiming that Whisky from Asia (Japan/Taïwan) is the “best in the world”.
First of all, I don’t think there’s such a thing as the “best whisky in the world” – According to who? to what? If there’s an official list of criteria on which journos/critics base their statement on, I’m more than happy to have a look at it.
There are just so many whisky competitions/awards down there that there are now 14987987 “best whisky in the world” titles awarded each year, going to some very different drams… For instance, Craigellachie 31 has just been awarded “World’s best single malt” at the World Whiskies Awards last week while Jim Murray chose to gave the crown to Booker’s Rye 13 Year Old in the 2017 edition of his so-called bible – get my point?
I’ve therefore been trying to put on some imaginary blinders on my eyes each time I came accross this kind of articles about Asian whisky (yeah, something like those poor harnessed horse teams you see wandering the streets of any great summer destination under burning hot temperature…) but this last one was the last straw that broke the camel back.
You can read the full piece here
But let me quote some bits that made me go ‘:/” (to say that in a somehow polite manner)
> “if you’re someone who truly considers themselves a whisky aficionado, your bar is no longer stocked with Scotland’s finest liquid. Instead, you’re buying whisky from Japan and Taiwan.” – so there’s really no balance? “Yeaaah fuck Scotland, let’s buy those overpriced Japanese whiskies we’ve been told to!” – You’ve been given a brain upon your birth for f*ck sake, and your own capacity to judge by yourself, so let’s try to maybe – moderate – all this? Of course there are some great juices coming from Japan and Taïwan, I can’t deny that at all, but does that mean anything coming from Scotland (or other countries) has all of sudden turned into some liquid shit? -___- #FacePalm
So no, if you’re “someone who truly considers themselves as a whisky oficionado“, you believe in diversification in flavours, styles and countries and your bar is STILL stocked with Scotland’s finest liquid, but ALSO whisky from Japan and Taiwan (and many other countries btw!).
“Due to the liquid’s history in Scotland, much of what’s produced has more to do with history and tradition than innovation. It’s a culture that stays true to original recipes and classic ways of doing things.” Bullshit 3000. So you’re not considering the fact that tradition and innovation can cohabit (or maybe you do, but only in Asia ;))? Go say that to Eden Mill, Strathearn, Bruichladdich, Lone Wolf… Oh and even the giants of Glenfiddich for instance? Looking forward to hearing back from you, greetings. [I must say this statement made me cringe with embarassment for the magazine]
“these whisky makers [in Japan and Taiwan] have the freedom to tweak the recipes.” Oh hell yeah they do… Because there’s no legal framework, or something pretty vague, in Japan. They also have the freedom to import Canadian whisky and label it as Japanese whisky so well…
“What that means is that you can expect a Macallan 15 to taste the same whether it was made and bottled this year or in previous years. But a Japanese or Taiwanese whisky may taste very differently from year to year, based solely on the distiller and blender’s discretion” You people have a very reductive vision of Scotch… Someone should probably attend a vertical whisky tasting of the same expression years after years here… All casks are different by their very nature, so even if blenders try to achieve consistency in a distillery’s single malts offering, you’ll notice some differences on a same expression over the years… That’s also why people collect bottles from older decades. For instance, a Lagavulin 16 didn’t taste the same in the early 2000s than it does today.
And if that makes Asian whisky thrilling to you, then you should be amazed by Scotch!
Again, don’t get me wrong, I love a good Japanese whisky as much as I’ve always thought Kavalan were genius distillers who definitely know a thing or two about maturation… (thanks Jim Swan) but hey, can we, once and for all, stop trying to say “this is better than this”, It seriously feels like a school playground sometimes…