Review: Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch 6th Edition

There are two major schools of thoughts in whiskey review compendiums: You can get Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible, which features digest reviews of every whiskey known to man in birdseed type, or you can go for Michael Jackson’s less thorough (and covering single malt Scotch only) Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch, which features quite short reviews but offers lots of history on malt whisky and a treatise on each distillery in the tome.

Both are worthy books and I refer to them frequently when I encounter rarities in the field.

Despite having died three years ago, Jackson’s book has been updated to a sixth edition, with Dominic Roskrow, Gavin D. Smith, and William C. Meyers contributing new reviews and updating coverage from the 2004-published fifth edition.

The book is of course long overdue, as the last six years have seen plenty of new whiskeys hit the market.

Fans of older editions of the book will find no surprises in store here. The writeups are exactly as they used to be (and there’s no way of knowing who wrote what), and Jackson et al do a good job of covering the basics without trying to convince you that a whiskey is awesome a la Murray. When reading Whiskey Bible, I always feel like I’m trying to be sold something. While Jackson’s ratings can feel a bit random with some wild variations in them, they are always allowed to stand without a lot of fluffy commentary.

Certainly a must-have tome for any serious whisky aficionado.

B+ / $20 / [BUY IT HERE]

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6 Responses

  1. David Parker January 28, 2013 / 6:21 am

    How is this a review? For example, the 6th edition covers more than just Single Malt Scotch, even though it’s in the cover- there’s entire sections dedicated to Blended Malts, as well as foreign brands. Did you read the book?

  2. Christopher Null January 28, 2013 / 7:59 am

    Of the 448 pages in the book, 5 pages are devoted to blended malts. 2 pages are devoted to American microdistilleries. The parts of the book that do NOT cover single malt Scotch are insubstantial and not terribly useful. Reviews don’t always cover every page of a book. I didn’t devote any space to writing about the index, either. (It’s awesome!)

  3. NorvellHimself November 7, 2015 / 8:58 am

    Christopher, as a relatively old late-comer to the world of single malt and as a relatively amateurish occasional reviewer of single malt for my blog I have always found Michael Jackson’s 6th edition to be of major help to me in trying new whisky – and not because I always agree with him but there is no doubt that he (et al) is informative in background and delightful in conciseness but still rich in enumerating flavours I never find. Your review seemed to me to be of like mode – and your reply, including index remark, was on mark without being combative. Enjoyed it. Himself

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