This weekend, nose your way through whisky with Jim Murray

Have some fun, and get a perspective on the drink with the world’s first full-time whisky writer

He’s the white-bearded man with blue-grey eyes, who always wears a hat — or so his photographs suggest. It’s true, he says of the hat — it’s so his hair doesn’t fall onto his face when he’s ‘nosing’. On a WhatsApp call from a flight that’s about to take off, Jim Murray tells us what to expect from an evening spent with him (it’s ticketed, so you can buy in). As the world’s first full-time whisky writer and author of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible: The World’s Leading Whisky Guide that isn’t paid for by brands, he says his events are “completely bullshit-free zones”, where you’ll learn to go past the often-pretentious marketing and trust your instinct on the drink.

What to expect from the evening

“It will be like no other whisky experience,” says Murray, who has trademarked what he calls The Murray Method, an 18-step process (procedure?) that includes trying to eliminate all smells and unnecessary noises before you begin. Which probably means you can’t be cooking dinner or listening to a toddler whine as you swig.

Also, no swigs allowed, I’m guessing, considering Murray is specific about people coming in with no perfume or aftershave. “Try and keep the taste buds as fresh as possible,” he says. So eat a light meal with as little spice and oil as you can, and if your mouth feels like aged cheese at the end of the day, rinse your palate out with black coffee (sans milk and sugar), he suggests (demands). And no smoking before or during the session.

What to expect from Murray

Murray was a journalist until 1992, when he started writing about whisky, the first to do so full time. He’s a straight-talking Brit who says he loves India, especially its wildlife.

He takes his God of Whisky title seriously, because it comes with responsibility: “The thing is that the impact of the book is huge. I am aware that if I say a whisky is not very good, I can damage a company.” During the process of tasting and writing for The Whisky Bible, he’ll eat “the most boring food,” and refrain from tasting and writing if unwell.

No faking (left) Jim Murray; (top) the cover of his book

No faking (left) Jim Murray; (top) the cover of his book  

He asks that people not read a label and be seduced by the story. “There are variances in every bottle,” he says, so if you find elderflower on the label, “you may find it occasionally, but not every time.” His sessions dispense with the label (you’ll be drinking blind), the ice, even water, and let you taste and feel the soul of a whisky. There’ll be more than a few emperor’s-new-clothes moments.

“I don’t sell whisky; I introduce people to whisky,” he says. There’s no room for whisky snobs, who’ve closed their mind, and put ‘their’ whisky over another. They call themselves experts, but “they’re not particularly knowledgeable at all. If you go to distillery, they’re experts in the whisky they produce, not in Bourbon or Canadian or Irish whisky.” Being open is where you begin, with whisky and with life.

An evening with whisky legend Jim Murray: in Mumbai, 15th, 16th; in Delhi 17th, 18th; email; ₹5,000 per head

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Printable version | May 24, 2020 4:21:38 PM |

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