Welcome to Whisky Reviews


Welcome to WhiskyReviews.net

Neill Murphy, writer and founder of WhiskyReviews.net

I got into whisky by accident. I was attending a funeral in the Scottish highlands and a glass of 12-year-old Highland Park was handed to me at the wake. Not wanting to appear rude, I accepted the dram and made my way to a quiet corner to sip on the glass and hope that no-one saw me retch.

Within a month of that sip there were four or five bottles of malt in my cupboard at home and from there it snowballed. I scoured book shops for whisky books and read and watched dozens of bloggers and vloggers who shouted passionately into the void, covering every conceivable facet of the hobby. I attended as many whisky tastings as time, money and my liver would allow, soaking up as much data as people were willing to send my way. In 2014 I took a course, led by renowned writer John Lamond. Two years later I took the ‘Whisky Ambassador‘ course. My holidays started to be arranged around the location of distilleries. It had become apparent that what was once a hobby, had developed into something of an obsession.

I always enjoyed writing and felt like I understood the basics from a fairly young age. English was the only subject at school that I seemed able to pass without putting in any real effort but the possibility of doing anything about it had never really crossed my mind. My late teens and twenties were largely spent absorbed in the Glasgow club scene with all my resources feeding my passion for music and DJ-ing.

When I moved into my thirties, however, the desire to write returned. I tried to write about club culture but my enthusiasm for the subject was starting to wane. Then, at 34, my wife fell pregnant and I did what most men do: I shit myself. I tried to address my fears by writing about my impending fatherhood but as any new parent will tell you, spare time is hard to come by.

Two weeks before the birth of my daughter, however, I spent an afternoon at Auchentoshan and the idea of writing about whisky finally struck me.

The Mission Statement

When I was new to the world of whisky I found it a little disheartening to hear countless online voices lament how good the spirit used to be. Whilst many of those critics have, to this day, more knowledge and experience in their little finger than I have amassed in a lifetime, I still felt I could perhaps offer something.

I wanted to write a blog that reflected the enthusiasm of a new hobby. A blog that would encourage newbies to delve deeper, rather than shaming them for not knowing enough. A blog that kept the cynicism and outrage to a minimum in order to support the reader and champion Scotch whisky. That’s not to say I’m all about blind optimism. If there’s something about a whisky I don’t like, I will say so (price in particular has become worthy of comment lately) but I also try to take everything in context and make any criticism constructive and balanced.

If you want to encourage people to give whisky a try, you have to consider what might be holding them back. To me it seemed there were two main aspects that I wanted to address. First was price. Whisky is expensive. There’s no way around that BUT great value can still be found. I wanted to highlight the diversity that’s out there at a decent price point.

The second thing I think people find off-putting is the pretentiousness that seems to come with whisky. Contrary to popular belief, there is no dress code for whisky events. Tweed and flat caps are not mandatory. Nor is Victorian facial hair essential. Whisky is just as suitable a drink for women as it is for men and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mixing it, putting it in cocktails or drinking it over ice. There is also no need whatsoever to take part in self-indulgent, one-upmanship where tasting notes are concerned.

That is not to say tasting notes aren’t useful. They are a handy tool for describing a spirit to the reader but I didn’t want them to form the backbone of my reviews. Instead, I wanted the review to act as a jumping off point to discuss the fascinating story of Scotch whisky and the people and places that make it. The written equivalent, if you will, of sharing a dram and a chat in a cosy bar.

In the end, I just hope that the joy whisky brings to me comes through in my writing and that it feeds the same joy in you, the reader.

Thanks for being here.

Neill Murphy

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