Jim Murray (writer)

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Jim Murray
Jim Murray.jpg
Jim Murray at his tasting lab
Born 13 November 1957
Merstham, Surrey
Nationality British
Occupation Whisky writer
Dram Good Books

Jim Murray (born 13 November 1957) is an English writer and journalist. He is best known for his observations on whisky and his annually updated book on the subject, Jim Murray's Whisky Bible.


Murray was born in Merstham, Surrey. A keen journalist from a young age, he wrote for his local papers while still at school and presented his own regional television show, Murray on Monday at the age of sixteen, a weekly programme in the Northamptonshire region. Murray would report on and often provide commentary to local sporting events. His passion for writing and sport, specifically football, culminated in his first book Millwall: Lions of the South (1988), a history of Murray's beloved and unfashionable Millwall F.C.

A national newspaper journalist with The Sunday People and Daily Star, in 1992 Murray left Fleet Street after 13 years to become the world's first-ever full-time whisky writer. Having visited his first distillery, Talisker, in 1975, it is believed that he has since visited more distilleries globally than any living person.[1] He had used his secondments to Scotland in the early and mid-1980s with both the People and Star to visit as many distilleries as possible and even work in them during his free time.

1994 saw the release of Jim Murray's Irish Whiskey Almanac, the first of many popular whisky books that he would go on to write in securing his place as, arguably, the world's leading authority and most influential on the subject.[2] This book was revised and extended for a re-release three years later in the form of Classic Irish Whiskey (1997). Other publications include the hugely popular Jim Murray's Complete Book of Whisky (1997), Classic Bourbon, Tennessee & Rye (1998), Classic Blended Scotch (1999) and The Art of Whisky (1998).

Murray won the Glenfiddich Whisky Writer of the Year award on the three separate occasions he was entered for the competition. Murray is quoted as saying that he fiercely guards his independence and honesty. He says that he believes this can be compromised by writing for an advertising-dependent media. His recent magazine writings have been selective and only on the understanding that he retains full copyright. To further protect his writing, Murray has trademarked his name.

Jim Murray's Whisky Bible is an ongoing project, with the first of the series having been published in 2003. It is a compact guide containing every whisky that Murray and a team of researchers are able to source from the worldwide market. Each whisky is tasted by Murray alone and graded out of an overall score of 100. This total is reflective of the four key criteria, with nose, taste, finish and balance each awarded marks out of 25. With every new edition of the Whisky Bible, Murray provides tasting notes and ratings for around 1,000 newly released or previously undiscovered whiskies, with nearly 4,000 brands being reviewed overall.

As well as writing and broadcasting on whisky, and being a chair judge at the International Wine and Spirit Competition, Murray has also worked as a consultant blender with both whisky and rum. He claims one of his achievements include playing a major role in resurrecting Ardbeg distillery in Islay after it closed in 1996.[citation needed] Murray has also become well known for his championing the cause of American rye whiskey, Japanese whisky, and Irish Single pot still whiskey, all of which had fallen out fashion when he first began writing about them.

Murray lives in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England,[citation needed] and also has a home near Frankfort, Kentucky, USA, in the heart of the bourbon-making region.

Selected bibliography[edit]