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Jim Murray - The Rise & Fall of The Trump of Whisky

Updated: Mar 6


Jim Murray Whisky bible evolution

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


During a whisky tasting event held in London in 2019, around 60 people gathered in an old courtroom from a well-known Scottish distillery to taste whisky. The distillery manager was present, alongside Jim Murray, who wore his signature Panama hat. He instructed the attendees on how to taste the whisky 'the right way,' using his method, which he named The Murray Method. However, during the tasting, a gentleman getting closer to his 70s raised his hand and commented that he couldn't smell anything. But Murray dismissed him with a comment, 'That is because you're just not experienced enough.' Similarly, a lady in her 30s commented on the smell of whisky and said, 'I get pineapples.' Murray looked at her in disbelief and brushed it off with the response, 'That's not possible. Maybe you're confusing it with something else.' As the tasting continued, silent messages started to circulate among small groups attending the event, with some questioning Murray's credibility. Murray kept smelling the same whisky for over 30 minutes, and it became evident to some that there is only one thing that matters to Jim Murray, and that's his own opinion.



 

Many of us who have spent years in the spirits industry and have met Jim Murray in person have noticed that he has lost touch with reality. Many articles and opinions have been written about him, and we've been contemplating whether or not to write a post about him. However, we feel that some important things have not yet been said.


Image by Whisky Bible


Jim Murray, a well-known whisky critic, has faced criticism for his scoring and tasting methods over the years. There have also been claims of him being paid by brands, but he has denied them. However, in 2020, his highly sexual references and characterisations in his reviews caused controversy, and the whisky industry distanced themselves from him. This led to questions about when and where he went wrong, why it took so long for someone to call him out, and why his fall from grace did not surprise those in the industry. Some have even referred to him as 'the Trump of Whisky'. Let's delve into the issue to gain a better understanding.



 
"In the Beginning, God Created the Heaven and the Earth"

Jim Murray was born in Surrey in 1957 and began his career as a sports commentator and writer. In 1993, he was one of the first people to start writing about whisky and went on to author several informative books on the subject, including 'Complete Book of Whisky' in 1997 and 'Classic Blended Scotch' in 1999. During this period, he expressed dissatisfaction about the low earnings from his books, which was noticed by some whisky enthusiasts, leading to a shift in his attitude towards self-worth and entitlement.


Jim Murray whisky dollars in his eyes

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


In 2003, Jim Murray released his first annual edition of 'Whisky Bible', a book that helped him boost his ego and income. However, the name of the book raised concerns in the industry because Murray's writing shifted from fact-based writing to his opinion, which contained information that was not true. This led some whisky professionals to stop reading and buying his books.


The first cracks between Murray and the UK whisky community appeared when he started personally insulting people in the industry. Despite this, the public continued to buy his books at a soaring rate, and he has sold over 1 million copies, making him a multi-millionaire worth anything between one to five million pounds.


Over the years, Murray has claimed sole credit for numerous things, including the success of Ardbeg and the rise of Japanese whisky. However, taking credit for all of it seems too egotistical. It remains unclear why brands would like to be associated with a man of his delusional grandeur unless Murray himself has invested in the companies as an anonymous donor, stock, or position holder. It is important to note that this has not been proven in any way, and it is just speculation because he keeps predicting the next big thing, followed by the same whisky being ranked as his 'Best Whisky', which increases sales.


To validate his self-proclaimed guru status and assume greatness, Murray turned to the United States.


 
Who Would Win in a Battle? Jim Murray or Becky Paskin? Spoilers - Paskin Won

Becky Paskin vs Jim Murray whisky

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


Becky Paskin, a founding member of OurWhisky and former editor of scotchwhisky.com, highlighted the sexual innuendos in Jim Murray's whisky reviews featured in the Whisky Bible. Out of nearly 4,300 reviews in his 2021 publication, 34 were identified as comparing whisky to sex, with descriptions such as:

On the Canadian Club Chronicles: Issue No. 1 Water of Windsor Aged 41 Years: “Have I had this much fun with a sexy 41-year-old Canadian before? Well, yes I have. But it was a few years back now and it wasn’t a whisky. Was the fun we had better? Probably not. It is hard to imagine what could be, as this whisky simply seduces you with the lightness and knowledgeable meaning of its touch, butterfly kissing your taste buds, finding time after time your whisky erogenous zone or g spots... and then surrendering itself with tender and total submission.”

Shortly after Paskin's Instagram post, distilleries such as Glenfiddich and producer Beam Suntory began to distance themselves from Murray. Whisky specialist outlets also returned their copies of his book and cancelled future orders. Murray, who is not active on social media, was reportedly informed about the accusations against him by his frantic assistant, who said, 'They're accusing you of being sexist. It's gone viral. It's taken off. You've been cancelled.'


According to Daily Mail, Murray stated:

As all those statements rolled in, one after another, I watched my whole world collapse around me, and nobody — not one senior exec — called. Everyone jumped off the ship.


He has portrayed himself as the victim of the 'Woke Brigade' ever since, even when people have come forward accusing him of inappropriate conduct in his events, which are allegedly influenced by his drinking. To this accusation, Murray has replied by saying: 'I stay insanely sober at tastings. I've probably only been drunk about twice in my life. But there's no filter, no protection, nothing to stop them. They can say anything. It's a lynch mob.'


Becky Paskin Jim Murray whisky

Image by Daily Mail


The man in question appears to be in deep denial and is making yet another statement to deny allegations against him. Like Trump, he claims to have never met his accusers in person or even known them. Despite Murray's sexist entries in his 'Bible' for years, no one had called him out until Becky Paskin did. Perhaps she was the first person to read his book thoroughly, as it is not a novel or an informative fact-based whisky guide but rather a reference book. For most people, it is merely a source to look up a whisky and nothing more.



 

Some Chosen Opinionated Comments


At this point, we would like to point out his ridiculous 14-point tasting method and his way of adding entries to his books. Allegedly, he locks himself away for months tasting whiskies. Murray has stated, according to Forbes, that during this period, he only eats bland food and uncooked flavourless dinners and abstains from sex because 'even from kissing, you can pick up something'. No wonder his mind wanders, and he wants to make love to the whiskies he's tasting.

No she didn't

Image by iStock


It appears that Jim Murray's scoring system has lost its significance as a large number of whiskies are receiving over 95/100 points. It is becoming difficult to differentiate between the products. We wonder if he awards high points to numerous whiskies with the hope that brands will showcase his scoring more. In our opinion, his scoring system has little to no value.


It's important to remember that Jim Murray's Whisky Bible reflects only one person's opinion. Despite the title's reference to the Bible, his word is not the word of God, even if he wants you to believe otherwise.



 
The Making of a Self-Proclaimed Guru

It has been suggested that Jim Murray is similar to Donald Trump when it comes to their personalities. Donald Trump's mental state and possible narcissism were called into question during his presidency. This has led some to compare him to Jim Murray, often called the Donald Trump of Whisky. Although we are not health professionals, we find it intriguing to explore the similarities between the two by examining Murray through the 6 signs and symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.


Jim Murray self-proclaimed whisky guru

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


 

1. Grandiose sense of self-importance - Check!


Jim Murray was among the first to write about the drink in detail. However, he has attracted criticism over the years due to his grandiose claims and apparent belief in his own superiority. Murray named his annual reference guide the Whisky Bible, which some have seen as indicative of his self-proclaimed guru status. He has even trademarked his name, which could be seen as evidence of his arrogance.


Since 2013, Murray has included his picture on the cover of his Whisky Bible as well as his name. However, some people were disappointed by his latest 2022 cover, which features the words 'Glen Truth' and an angry foreword aimed at his critics. Despite this, perhaps we should not have been surprised, given Murray's previous behaviour.


Whisky Murray whisky bible cover 2022

Image by Whisky Bible



 

2. Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur - Check!


Jim Murray has managed to distance himself from the Scottish whisky industry over the years and has instead focused on promoting American whiskies in the US. Despite the controversy surrounding his previous remarks, he seems to think that it all came out of nowhere, saying:

There had never been a single complaint

It was only a matter of time before his reputation decreased further. The recent scandal involving sexual references was the last straw that led the industry to disassociate itself from him. After going through his interviews from the past few years, it is evident that he sees himself as a victim of a mob, similar to how Trump views the media. He believes cancel culture is at play and insists he is an entertainer. In an interview with the Daily Mail, he portrayed himself as a victim, stating:

I'm a white, middle-aged, middle-class man, so I can't say anything.

It is unlikely that a person who is a potential multi-millionaire would be considered middle class.



 

3. Needs constant praise and admiration - Check!


Jim Murray appears to be someone who craves admiration and attention from his followers. He spends a significant amount of time attending events and making appearances, possibly to meet people who will idolise him. When his writing was criticised in late 2020, he referred to those who didn't defend him as 'very frightened sheep.'


Despite this, he continues to sell books and attract followers, much like Trump. It's unclear why he retains such a following, given the criticism he has received.


Fans meeting Jim Murray whisky bible

Images by Barleymania & Twitter


 

4. Sense of entitlement - Check!


Jim Murray claims that he invented whisky writing and believes that the whisky industry owes him a great deal. He has often expressed his frustration in interviews, displaying his disdain for the industry that he feels has not appreciated his contributions. However, his claim raises questions about the work of other whisky writers such as Alfred Barnard and Michael Jackson. As a self-proclaimed guru in the field, he has always believed that his expertise is more valuable than that of others and that he should be compensated accordingly.



 

5. Exploits others without guilt or shame - Check!


Rumours have been circulating about the Best Whisky prize being influenced by bribery. These allocations started when Scottish whiskies were excluded from the competition, which led people to think about what it could mean. Some believed that it was due to Jim Murray's resentment towards the industry or that he received sponsorship from somewhere else.


Jim Murray has always presented himself as someone who speaks his mind, but his biases towards certain distilleries and unapologetic egotism have become evident. Additionally, he has also damaged the reputation of Panama hats.


 

6. Frequently demean, intimidate, bully, or belittle others - Check!


Anyone who disagrees with him, his methods and opinions are quickly put down as 'not experienced enough' or 'mistaken'. The only opinion that matters to Jim Murray is his own.



We think we have 6/6...

 

We value your opinion and would appreciate it if you could leave us a comment. Unlike Jim Murray, we believe in respecting other people's thoughts. Please feel free to share your views with us.

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