Jim Murray’s 2020 “World Whisky of the Year” winners were announced last week, and immediately the online whiskey world short-circuited with about 100 differing hot takes on the results. Every year, Murray releases an updated version of his book, which is now in its seventeenth year of publication. And every year, especially in recent times, the Twitter and other social media pile-ons begin. Granted, Murray appears to be a bit of a character, especially as revealed in this recent interview. His tasting methods are precise if unconventional, with tics that he claims make them more honest than others — he does not taste blind, he abstains from flavorful food while tasting, he won’t even wear aftershave for fear of it interfering with his process.
Murray tasted about 1,250 new whiskeys for the new edition, and there are over 5,000 entries included in the book. It seems like all the accusations of being paid off by the companies whose whiskeys he anoints as winners actually work as free publicity for Murray in the end, as the Whisky Bible continues to make waves with every winner announced. And the brands he gives top honors to aren’t complaining, as the bottles he picks as winners often become hot commodities in the following months (such was the case with Crown Royal’s Harvest Rye in 2016).
Hop onto Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit, grab some popcorn, and check out all the insults from people who disagree with Murray’s methods, findings, and general demeanor. In the meantime, here are the 2020 winner and runners-up; in an unusual plot twist (and one that has helped fuel the conspiracy theories), all of them are part of the Sazerac family:
- World Whisky of the Year: 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Runners-up: William Larue Weller 125.7 proof and Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye 127.2 proof, both from Buffalo Trace
“There will be eyebrows raised and claims of favoritism which, of course, is never the case with the Whiskey Bible: I call it exactly as I see it,” said Murray in a prepared statement. “Once I knew the top three were from the same company, I spent two extra days running through my top ten whiskies once more, and the results came out exactly the same!”
Other winners include Taiwanese Nantou Distillery Omar Cask Strength Bourbon Cask (Single Cask of the Year), Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition (Scotch), Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare (Blended Scotch), Penderyn Single Cask no.M75-32 (European), and Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt (Japanese).
Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible will be available at retailers later this month for $19.99, and can be purchased online now.
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