Monday, January 14, 2013

Our Top 10 whisky blogs (2013 update)

The number of whisky blogs on the internet has risen massively over the last couple of years and each contributes to a lively and vibrant whisky community online. Some say that there are too many, but the beauty of the online whisky community is that there is enough room for everyone's voice and opinions. The fact that each blog is written by different people, with different writing styles and with differing opinions is what makes it so interesting.

From the comments that we receive, a whisky blog seems to tap into something in people - they don't want to wade through endless pages of convoluted notes, they like up-to-date and honest reviews that are concise and describe whisky in layman's terms and they value the writer's personal opinions as these are perceived to be more genuine than manufacturer's notes or other PR material.

In 2010, we decided to champion some of the best whisky blogs that we had discovered since we first joined the whisky community in 2008 - click here to read the old list. We have now decided to update this list - it now includes new comers alongside some of our old favourites.  As before, it would be unfair to rank these, as each offers something unique and which you prefer is up to you, so we have listed them in alphabetical order. A similar list of our favourite whisky websites is available by clicking here.

Cask Strength -

This is one of our fellow London-based blogs and we regularly bump in to founders Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison at functions around the city. Cask Strength started roughly the same time as us in 2008 and offers an eclectic mix of informative, highly descriptive tasting notes and hot topics relating to the industry. It feels different from many other blogs and you will often see it described as irreverent, but it is better than that as Neil and Joel have forged themselves great reputations in the industry as accomplished writers and their annual Best In Glass has become a highly regarded industry award.

Dr. Whisky  -

One of the pioneers of the online whisky blog, Sam Simmons began Dr. Whisky over seven years ago when there were very few online resources available to whisky fans. His Malt Missions, which are now totalling over 400, hold legendary status and offer probably the most descriptive and thought provoking tasting notes available anywhere. He also offers background information to the whisky in question, giving it context. He may not now post as regularly as in the past, due to his current role as Global Ambassador for Balvenie, but the blog is a vast and valuable whisky resource. Go check out what the Doctor has ordered.

Edinburgh Whisky Blog -

Lucas Dynowiak and Chris Hoban write one of our favourite blogs and cover pretty much anything whisky related – comprehensive tasting notes, new releases, hot topics, industry news, interviews with experts and the occasional rant . They are lucky to be situated in Edinburgh and have brought their industry experience to the world from there for the last four years. They are also never frightened to offer a controversial viewpoint that others may think but dare not write. The blog has become so popular that they now have three other contributors and it underwent a major revamp/redesign last year.

Guid Scotch Drink -

GSD is a cracking blog written by Jason Johnstone-Yellin from his base in the USA. It was formerly an extension of the Whisky Host website but Jason went solo about three years ago – the blog’s name pays homage to a line from the famous Robert Burns poem Scotch Drink. The blog offers mostly whisky reviews (complete with thorough tasting notes), plus latest news and various other snippets of information and video clips. In addition, Jason runs tasting events and leads private whisky tours to Scotland, as well as being one of the founder members of the new independent bottling company Single Cask Nation.

Nonjatta -

Nonjatta is the most comprehensive guide to Japanese whisky and the Japanese whisky industry that is available in English. It was founded in 2007 by Chris Bunting, a British journalist living in Tokyo. Now the majority of writing is done a group of Japanese whisky enthusiasts including Chris of Whisky Wall, Ruben of Whisky Notes (see below) and Stefan of Tokyo Whisky Hub. There is also an impressive list of guest writers including industry legends such as Ulf Buxrud and Serge Valentin. The back catalogue of tasting notes is extensive and other features include the history and origins of Japanese whisky.

Scotch Odyssey -

The premise of this blog was simple when it was first written back in April 2012 – one boy, one bike, one whisky-making country, 42 distillery tours, 1,400 miles, six weeks. The boy was James Saxon, the whisky-making country was Scotland and he spent that six weeks, on that one bike cycling around nearly half of the country’s whisky distilleries. The story of his journey was fascinating and offers a new perspective on the whisky industry. Since then, the blog has grown to cover many wider issues of the industry that are not covered in other blogs, plus a good helping of descriptive whisky tasting notes.

The Whisky Wire -

This blog was started in April 2010 by whisky enthusiast Steve Rush and he has carved himself a real niche in the industry with it. The Whisky Wire combines news, expressive tasting notes and interviews with whisky industry insiders. However, for us the real triumph of Steve’s blog are his Tweet Tastings which he now runs on a regular basis. These have become industry recognised and involve a brand sending samples sent out to whisky fans. The tasting then takes place from all locations of the globe at a set time with Steve hosting, and the last few have featured in the Top 10 trending topics on Twitter in the UK

Whisky Fun -

Serge Valentin is the brains behind Whisky Fun and he almost single handedly pioneered whisky online. Serge started Whisky Fun over 10 years ago, making him the grandfather of the online whisky community. He also part-runs the iconic Malt Maniacs website. Whisky Fun is an eclectic mix of highly detailed tasting notes, news and music/concert reviews, which offer a unique air of quirkiness. The back catalogue that has built up over time is massive and almost any whisky that you care to try and find will be on there - you must check it out. A unique and excellent blog, that all other whisky blogs aspire to be.

Whisky Israel -

Gal Granov battles the astronomical Israeli tax rates on alcohol to bring his expert and descriptive tasting notes on Whisky Israel. The blog was started around three years ago and he has already racked up an impressive number of whisky reviews, totaling over 500. There is also a regular news feature and other general ‘whisky geekery’, as Gal puts it. The blog is for beginners and connoisseurs alike and has a distinct ‘no nonsense’ approach. Gal is also highly active on Twitter and Facebook, so if you are on either of those social media platforms and like whisky, then you have probably met him already.

Whisky Notes -

This blog is written by Ruben Luyten, who is based in Belgium. Whisky Notes has only been going for about four years and Ruben has already built up an impressive back catalogue of over 1000 tasting notes of whiskies, including some that are only available in mainland Europe. Most of the blog posts are whisky reviews and these are concise yet descriptive with a little background information about the bottling included. Other articles include whisky news and views, bar reviews and discussion about what is going on in the industry.


If you regularly read these 10 fine blogs, plus Whisky For Everyone (naturally), then you have pretty much all facets of the world of whisky covered. In addition, there are many other good whisky blogs on the internet – we could have done an alternative Top 10 including ten different ones to be honest – and some of these can be found on a separate page by clicking here.


Gal Granov said...

Thanks you very much for including me (again) in this list! i am honored to be mentioned next to such great blogs.

Whisky Lassie said...

I realize limiting it to ten is super difficult, however I'd like to mention that Dr. Whisky has not posted in over a year and a video blog "vlog" for Ralphy really should have made the top ten in my very humble opinion. Otherwise, I had 7 out of the 10 you mentioned as bookmarks that I check regularly. (One being yours, of course, hehe)

Thanks for sharing.

Jason JY said...

It's always an honor to be included among other whisky blogs that I greatly enjoy reading. Good idea to update the list from 2010 (where has the time gone!).

Whisky For Everyone is also a terrific blog packed with a wealth of information. I hope whisky lovers read the W4E website in addition to the blog.

Keep on keepin' on, you two.

Scotch Cyclist said...

Receiving recognition from peers is the highest praise indeed, and to be placed in such eminent company - all of whom I continue to learn from on a daily basis - is an honour.

I wish you all continued success going forward - and here's to more people stepping up to the plate with distinctive whisky voices.

Dr. Whisky said...

Seriously? WOW. Thanks, guys. Whisky Lassie is correct that I have not posted in ages so I guess DrW is more like a book than a blog; worth picking up again from time to time, but nothing new.

Your (very) kind words do inspire me to get back at it, though...

Keep up the good work yourselves, WFE!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Whisky site hasnt had a post in over a year until the other day, but you rate his site in the top ten? Really?

Search "scotch reviews" on Google if you want to find out what the average joe is reading.

Check out: The Scotch Noob, The Casks, Jasons Scotch Reviews and others for guys who are witty, post regularly and have a real enthusiasm for whisky.

Whisky For Everyone said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments and kind words.

Whisky Lassie and Anonymous are right - Dr Whisky hasn't written anything for a while. We actually state this in the post and have chosen it as it remains a valuable whisky resource. Dr Whisky's blog means something to us and has taught us much about whisky and blogging. We still regularly visit it for information. We see it like that old album that you keep playing - OK, the band hasn't released anything for ages but you still like them and what they have produced. Nothing should be jettisoned just because it is perceived to be out of date in our view.

Other blogs mentioned in the comments were very close to our Top10 and not being included does not detract from the quality or merits of any of them. We state in the post that we could easily have picked an entirely different set of blogs. Top10s are subjective things, and our updated Top10 is exactly that - ours. We do not expect anyone to agree with us - that is the beauty of blogging.

Thanks again to everyone - Karen & Matt

Bronson said...

Awesome round-up, thanks for curating this list which is about to get fed to my Feedly reader. :)

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