Jim Murray has handed an unprecedented triple crown to Kentucky whiskey in the latest edition of his best-selling annual Whiskey Bible. Upon unveiling the 2020 “World Whisky of the Year” Awards, the renowned spirits writer and industry expert has created another first by giving all top three accolades for the finest new drams on earth to the same whiskey company, New Orleans-based Sazerac.
Top prize of “World Whisky of the Year” goes to the 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon from the Barton 1792 distillery, a whiskey Jim Murray describes as “melodious, mysterious and slightly exotic” with a nose of “near-perfect proportions” and with an “unfaltering” finish when tasted.
The runners-up, from 1,250 new expressions tasted throughout the world by Jim Murray this year, are both Buffalo Trace brands: bourbon William Larue Weller 125.7 proof, the latest version of last year’s victor, and Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye 127.2 proof.
“There will be eyebrows raised and claims of favoritism which, of course, is never the case with the Whiskey Bible: I call it exactly as I see it,” stated Jim Murray. “Once I knew the top three were from the same company, I spent two extra days running through my top ten whiskies once more…and the results came out exactly the same!
“For the 1792 Distillery to win ‘World Whisky of the Year’ is extraordinary because when I first went there some 25 years ago, the then-owners had no interest in high-end whiskey. The oldest they produced was a 6-year-old, which I thought was one of the most complex on the market but still under cooked. I implored them then to bring out something much older.
“It is wonderful that my gut instinct of 25 years ago has been vindicated under the ownership of Sazerac, who have turned a potentially great distillery into something truly magnificent.”
This year’s release of the best-selling Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible is also notable in that it’s the first time ever that Dram Good Books, Ltd. (the book’s publisher) has released a North American version of the book. This unique edition has greater emphasis on the American and Canadian sections, highlighting the region’s whiskies in the forefront of the 384-page guide.
Jim Murray added: “It’s as though Kentucky knew we were producing this first North American edition. But we had strictly kept it under wraps. If Kentucky was ever going to steal the show, this was the year to do it. And, even by their own their high standards, they’ve exceeded themselves and duly obliged. Considering the quality of the whiskies they were up against worldwide, that’s quite amazing, really.”
“To not only be named ‘World Whisky of the Year ‘but also to have our whiskeys named second and third finest is astonishing,” remarked Mark Brown, President of Sazerac. “We could not be happier nor more motivated to continue to strive for perfection in the American whiskeys we make.”
Sectional winners include: the Taiwanese Nantou Distillery Omar Cask Strength Bourbon Cask (Single Cask of the Year); Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition (Scotch); Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare (Blended Scotch); Penderyn Single Cask no.M75-32 (European); Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt (Japanese).
Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020 (SRP $19.99) contains tasting notes for almost 5,000 whiskies and is available for purchase now on www.whiskybible.com and can be found at U.S. book retailers