Monday, 8 November 2010

#390 - Malt Whisky Yearbook 2011

A few hours after I had published my glowing review of Dave Broom's "World Atlas of Whisky", I received another eagerly awaited book in my mail box; the 2011 edition of the Malt Whisky Yearbook. If you have read my reviews of previous editions you know that I used to like the handy format and the friendly price of this small but useful whisky compendium a lot. 

This year, there are some small changes (for example, the height of the book is 2 millimeters less than previous editions) but the concept has remained mostly unchanged. And that's just as well, because the current format works quite well for me. The Malt Whisky Yearbook 2011 provides most of the essential details on the distilleries, and it seems that most of the relevant developments of the past year (new bottlings, etc.) are once again covered as well.

The price of the MWYB 2011 is still a paltry 12,95 GBP - which really is a very decent price, given the vast amount of current information on offer. In fact, compared to many whisky magazines, the yearbook offers much better value. Many whisky magazines fill around half of their pages with advertising, advertorials and promotions these days. Of course, many publishers will argue that they need several sources of revenue to make their business model work. That may very well be, but to me it still feels a bit like I'm paying for the privilege of looking at some pretty advertising that's designed to make me spend more money on something than I probably should. Something about that feels a tad masochistic...

Anyway, Ingvar proves every year that you can stuff an incredible amount of malt whisky information (facts, opinions and analysis) in a handy, flexible form for a very fair price. I'd say that you get the equivalent of information to two or three vintages of an average whisky magazine with the Malt Whisky Yearbook. So, should you spend the equivalent of three decent drams in a whisky bar on the Malt Whisky Yearbook ? I think that the question you should really be asking yourself is: "Can you afford NOT to?" 

I mean, it's simple mathematics. It's a well known fact that knowing more about the background of a dram enhances your enjoyment of that whisky considerably. So, let's say you are a mild imbiber and you consume one dram on every day of the week except for Sundays. That's some 300 glasses of whisky per year with an average value of 4 Euro's. That's a total value of 1200 Euro's of whisky per year. If the information in the yearbook increases your enjoyment of every glass by 10% on average, that represents a value of 120 Euro's - almost ten times your investment for the book. Like I said, it's simple mathematics...

Meanwhile, I'm actually a little ahead of schedule with my awards dramming because I feel a common cold breathing down my neck. The problem is that us jurors need to sample some dozen whiskies per day on average, and if you're out of the running for just a few days with a cold, it means you need to pick up the drams you missed later on. So, I'm running around taking vitamin pills and throwing salt over my shoulder - but I may have misinterpreted my grandmother's health advice in this matter ;-). Nevertheless, I'm trying to finish the blind tastings for the Malt Maniacs Awards 2010 as soon as humanly and humanely possible.

Sweet drams,