Wouldn’t it be great if, once a year, there was a book released, an almanac let’s say…damn near a gazetteer…hell, a yearbook, that took a look at the year that was in malt whisky and provided insightful commentary, facts and figures, and historical info and production data on every malt whisky distillery in the world?
The 2013 edition of the Malt Whisky Yearbook came out in the beginning of October and, as it has each year since 2006, does exactly all that aforementioned stuff. Compiled, written, and edited by Ingvar Ronde, each year’s Yearbook is broken down into three sections. The first section contains a series of articles written by the foremost whisky writers of the day covering different aspects of the whisky world, the second provides a profile of every malt whisky distillery you can think of, and the third section wraps up the year from an industry point of view. The first section of 2013 edition has, among others, a fairly fascinating recounting of the ups & downs of the malt whisky industry since 1945 by Charles MacLean, an interesting look at the oak casks which make all this good booze possible by Jonny McCormick, and a great take on branding and marketing by Neil Ridley. The second section first profiles all currently producing Scotch malt distilleries, listing contact info, a historical time line, and tasting notes on that distilleries entry-level expression. There’s also detailed write-up of each which covers some historical trivia, the year’s production data, and the core expressions. Following this main section, there are shorter sections describing the closed Scotch distilleries, all Japanese malt distilleries, and malt distilleries around the world. The last section leads off with evaluations and forecasts from the largest companies, profiles of the major independent bottlers, and gives interesting statistical data on the years whisky production and consumption.
This has been become an absolutely indispensable book for me, and I look forward to its release every year. There is some repeating of information from year to year as you might expect, but the new articles and updated information make it well worth the annual purchase. If you’ve found yourself in the midst of a serious, serious whisky problem, er…I mean hobby, I can’t recommend this book enough.