The number of whisky blogs and websites on the internet has risen massively over the last couple of years and each one contributes to a lively and vibrant whisky community online. The beauty of this online community is that there is enough room for everyone's voice, their style of site and their opinions. The fact that each website is written and programmed by different people, in different styles and with differing opinions is what makes the community so interesting.
Blogs can offer immediacy and short sound bites of information, whereas the benefit of a website is that it can offer more in depth information and be used more as a permanent reference resource. To this end, we started our website – www.whiskyforeveryone.com - about a year ago as an extension of our blog. This has allowed us to share much more information than is viable on a blog post, covering subjects such as whisky basics, detailed distillery profiles and interesting facts and figures. If you haven’t visited it already, then please click the link above and let us know what you think.
Here, we have decided to champion some of the best whisky websites that we have discovered since we first joined the community less than two years ago. We have made many friends and acquaintances along the way and this Top 10 is a tribute to each one's work. It would be unfair to rank these, as each offers something unique and which you may prefer is ultimately up to you, so we have listed them in alphabetical order. Recently, we produced a similar list of our favourite whisky blogs – to view this list, click here.
Almost every whisky brand, distillery and independent bottling company have a website these days and while most are functional and ‘do the job’, there are few that truly stand out. Ardbeg is one of these and has taken the genre of the ‘distillery website’ to a different level. They combine innovative graphics, plenty of customer interaction and informative text in a stylised and impressive website. The ‘style’ of the website is carried through to their equally innovative marketing material. The site also includes a shop that allows you to buy Ardbeg whisky and other associated products. The only down side is that the site tends to crash dramatically when large numbers of people go on it at the same time to try and buy a limited edition release! Other well branded websites include Monkey Shoulder and Smokehead.
This is a cracking site that is not just about whisky, but all things for the ‘aspiring gentleman’. Whisky plays a major part on the site, with regular reviews, detailed tasting notes and relevant talking points and news. Cigars play the other major part on the site and there are excellent reviews and tasting notes of the products. However, these whisky and cigar articles are placed alongside others covering all manner of subjects such as cigarettes, tailoring, shaving, beer, other drinks and spirits, etiquette, male grooming and accessories. All articles are extremely well written and make easy reading for beginners to these subjects. We have learnt a lot, especially from the cigar reviews. There is also a store section that allows you to purchase related items, including a decent range of whisky books.
This is a whisky social networking site that allows you to post and compare whisky reviews with other users. The site is the brainchild of Jean-Luc and Pierre Thiebaut - two whisky enthusiasts and web designers, who decided to combine their day job and hobby in order to create Connosr. There is not another site like Connosr that is purely led by its readers and contributors and it is a valuable source of information and opinion. In addition to posting your own whisky reviews, it allows you to speak with other users, rate whiskies using a star system, create your own whisky wish list, cabinet and history and much more. Connosr has been going for just over a year and is extremely popular, with over 3000 members already. Another more traditional style of forum worthy of a mention is WhiskyWhiskyWhisky.
Where to start? Put in simple terms, Malt Maniacs is one of the most comprehensive and informative whisky websites and resources around. It is also one of the oldest whisky sites, having been started in 1997. As a result, there is a vast back catalogue of articles, tasting notes and reviews of over 10,000 whiskies! Malt Maniacs is unusual as it has contributions from a select group of ‘friends’ who are located all around the world. These include a number of the whisky glitterati, such as Charles Maclean, Dave Broom, Mark Gillespie, Ulf Buxrud and Serge Valentin (in fact, Serge’s popular blog Whisky Fun started life as an offshoot to Malt Maniacs and contains regularly updated tasting notes). The founder, Johannes van den Heuval also writes his own side project called Malt Madness, which focuses on whisky news and distillery information.
Royal Mile Whiskies
Royal Mile Whiskies is a retailer who have two stores – on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile (unsurprisingly!) and in London – and they have an excellent website, from which you can purchase the wide range of products that they stock. It is not for that reason that the website has been included in this Top 10, but because it is also one of the biggest resources for finding whisky tasting notes, distillery information and industry news that is available. This site has become one of our first ports of call for us when we look for any whisky related information and is where we have learnt so much. It is especially good and user friendly for the beginner, explaining things in layman’s language. Other good retailer sites that offer plenty of information are Gordon & MacPhail and La Maison du Whisky.
This website markets itself as ‘the definitive online guide to whisky’ and in our view, it is not far wrong. The site contains a vast amount of information on all aspects of whisky. The distillery information profile pages are a particular highlight as they supply concise bullet pointed info and facts. These are split in to general information, distillery history, images, comments and available bottlings. The format is very easy to read and user friendly. In addition, numerous other sections are laid out in a similar way. These include information on different whiskies (single malts, blends and grain), whisky retailers and bars around the world, independent bottling companies, whisky history and manufacturing techniques and food/cocktail ideas. An excellent resource and a great site for beginners.
Single Malt TV
Single Malt TV is a channel devoted to the world of whisky. The concept was formed in 2006 and it soon grabbed the interest of both whisky connoisseurs and beginners alike. The channel is internet based and operates with 24 hour programming. It was also the first channel (internet, terrestrial or satellite) to be shot exclusively in the Hi-Definition format. Single Malt TV contains everything from full length feature programmes to snippets of clips lasting less than a minute. It covers all manner of subjects to do with the world of whisky – tasting reviews, distillery visits and profiles, food and whisky matching/recipes, interviews with interesting and relevant characters from within the industry and basics guides to whisky production. Well worth a visit and before you know it, you will have been watching for hours!
This is one of the pioneers of the whisky podcast. Whisky Cast was started in November 2005 by journalist Mark Gillespie, when he decided to create and use the podcast as a tool for his own whisky education. The show is produced once a week and can be downloaded from the Whisky Cast site or iTunes. There are currently over 240 editions of Whisky Cast and they are all available in an extensive back catalogue. The podcasts include whisky hot topics, interviews with influential people within the industry, whisky tastings and notes, news, forthcoming events around the world and competitions. There are also archives of photographs and whisky tasting reviews/ratings, as well as a shop stocked with a selection of items including whisky books, glasses and hipflasks.
The Whisky Emporium is an excellent website that is run by Keith Wood in Germany. The self-proclaimed ‘Bavarian exile’ has constructed one of the finest whisky resource sites around and it is packed with information. The main body of the site is the Tasting Notes section, where Keith combines distillery information with the tasting notes of any of that distillery’s whisky that he has sampled. The distillery/tasting list is extensive and you can find yourself reading through the well written notes and then wondering where your time has gone (we speak from experience!). There are other sections worth mentioning such as Dram-atics (Keith’s personal whisky blog), information on collecting and tasting whisky and a shop where you can buy 5cl samples from Keith’s collection.
Whisky Sites Directory
This is a simple yet effective site that offers links to numerous other whisky websites and blogs. The directory gives links to many of the whisky distillery and brand websites, with many of the Scottish, Irish, American and Japanese brands being placed alongside some lesser known producers from around the globe. There are also links to the multitude of whisky information websites and whisky blogs that are available on the web. As we say, it’s a simple site but one that is easy to use and concise, providing a valuable resource for whisky enthusiasts and beginners alike.
Please note - all logos and images are taken from the original sites.