Obituary: Dominic Roskrow, respected spirits writer and former Whisky Magazine editor, dies aged 61

Obituary: Dominic Roskrow, respected spirits writer and former Whisky Magazine editor, dies aged 61

The respected writer passed away unexpectedly after a short illness.

22 November 2022

The whisky world is in mourning this week, following the sad loss of respected spirits writer and former Whisky Magazine editor Dominic Roskrow, who has died aged 61.

Having written a regular column for the title since issue 29 and having acted as production editor since early 2003, Dominic officially introduced himself as editor of Whisky Magazine from issue 40, in June 2004. He remained editor for two years, between 2004 and 2006.

During Dominic’s tenure, he led issues including the magazine’s celebratory 50th edition and secured cover-star interviews with such heavyweights as pioneering rock band Deep Purple’s lead singer, Ian Gillan.

A regular attendee of gigs and concerts, his sincere love of music was a theme that reappeared often in his writing. A popular member of the team among his peers at Whisky Magazine’s Norwich-based publisher, Paragraph, the success of Dominic’s time as editor was secured thanks to his excellent knowledge, inquisitive mind and passion for the spirit he loved best.

Dominic during his time with Whisky Magazine.

Dominic continued to write for Whisky Magazine for almost 10 years after leaving the editor’s chair, with his final contribution being an analysis of worldwide cask shortages in issue 122. A fierce believer in old-school journalism, Dominic was respected by the entire industry for his independence and dogged pursuit of public-interest stories — even when it meant asking hard questions of those in charge of some of the world’s most well-known whisky brands.

A drinks writer since 1991 and a whisky writer since 2001, Dominic edited a number of other spirits publications throughout his career, including The Spirits Business and Whisky Quarterly, and authored more than 15 popular drinks books, including The World’s Best Whiskies: 750 unmissable drams from Tain to Tokyo (2010), Whiskey America (2018), and The Seven Moods of Craft Spirits: 350 Great Craft Spirits from Around the World (2018). Along with Gavin D. Smith, he was also trusted with the honour of revising and updating the late Michael Jackson’s seminal work Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch (7th Edition, 2015).

In 2012, Dominic founded the Craft Distillers Alliance, which celebrated the excellence in craft distilling, and he also worked as a consultant to a range of whisky companies, with his invaluable expertise always sought after. A supporter of innovation in the whisky category, Dominic worked closely with Swiss-based Seven Seals, a brand that utilises patented rapid-maturation technology to produce its spirits.

A staunch believer in supporting small-scale distilleries and brands, Dominic is perhaps now best remembered as one of the most well-respected authorities globally on the topic of ‘new world whiskies’ – that is, whisky from countries other than Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the USA and Japan. His loyal support of the burgeoning distilling scene in Australia has undoubtedly been a key factor in that category’s ongoing success.

Dissatisfied with what he perceived as the rigidity and Scotch-centric assessment benchmarks of existing spirits competitions, he ran the Wizards of Whisky Awards for 10 years and, in 2021, relaunched it as the New Wizards Awards. These competitions aimed to help “whisky lovers discover there was exciting life beyond the five traditional whisky-making territories.”

To further support the ‘new world’ category, he launched the colourful, fun, and informative Stills Crazy e-magazine in May 2021, with a mission to celebrate 'the best of New World Whisky' — the title ran to eight issues.

Dominic’s passing has been felt across the whisky world, with tributes on social media flooding out since the news broke. One of the whisky world's real 'characters', his enthusiasm was infectious. He will be remembered for his sincere passion and deep knowledge of spirits, as well as his exceptional writing ability — all of which made him one of the most popular writers in the whisky industry. Dominic is survived by his wife, Sally, and three children.

Whisky Magazine’s managing director, Damian Riley-Smith, paid tribute to Dominic: “It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the death of Dominic, a passionate and investigative writer and journalist. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most sad time.”

To read the collected back catalogue of Dominic’s writing for Whisky Magazine, click here.

Dominic Roskrow will be sorely missed by his family, friends, and peers in the whisky industry.

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