By Marcin Miller

The Miller's Tale

Another fascinating 12 months in the world of whisky, then. The trend for small independents buying distilleries from large multinationals goes on. Announcements of new smaller-scale distilling projects continue apace. The number of whisky tasting events is multiplying. And James Bond is still drinking Talisker. He and I have so much in common … You know you're getting old when the main impression the new Bond film makes is that the decibel level is too high.What will 2003 bring? There are many, many rumours of mergers and acquisitions. You don't have to work in the industry to have an idea of which distilleries (and affiliated blended whiskies) are up for grabs if the price is right. In effect, several distillers are still rationalising in the face of the major deals and management buyouts that have taken place in the last couple of years.It's time for another Best of the Best: Whisky Magazine has tasted close to 900 whiskies so far. We are frantically preparing the super tasting of the highest scoring whiskies, to take place in Edinburgh, Louisville and Tokyo. A criticism I have heard of the Best of the Best is that too many rare and esoteric whiskies are tasted, with very limited availability. My response would be simply to look at the winners of Best of the Best 2001: Black Bottle 10 years old, Glengoyne 17 years old, Highland Park 18 years old, The Macallan Gran Reserva, Blanton's, Elijah Craig 12 years old, Bushmills Malt 16 years old and Nikka Yoichi 10 years old cask strength. I am surprised at how many of them are readily available. I could buy most of them in Norwich and all of them (with maybe one exception) in London.Why are the winners, by and large, standard bottlings? Probably because they are felt by producers and tasters to be closer to the true distillery character. None of the winners were 'finishes'. None of the winners were exceptional single casks. Nor were any of the winners prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, when we approach a producer about a submission which is genuinely no longer available, we ask them to supply something of similar quality (in their opinion) but with greater distribution.The results of Best of the Best will appear in Issue 30, which will also feature the Whisky Academy, our awards for those people who, in the eyes of their peers, deserve special recognition.A winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award last year was Iain Henderson. He has had more final public appearances than Frank Sinatra, including a highly emotionally charged performance at Whisky Live in Tokyo. The tribute to Iain Henderson turned into a personal celebration for him with appearances by Norma Munro, who led the assembled company of 500 in Happy Birthday, and by Christine Logan, dressed as a geisha and carrying a birthday cake in the shape of Laphroaig Distillery.Well, following his well-earned retirement, which lasted all of a long weekend, Iain is back at work. He is acting as a consultant at Edradour Distillery, and will, therefore, be involved in Signatory's bottlings as well. So, quite a year for Andrew Symington then: Whisky Magazine Independent Bottler of the Year, Scotland's newest distiller following the purchase of Edradour in July and now another coup in the hiring of one of the best known and most respected distillers around.Of course, it's not all beer and skittles, this publishing lark. Sometimes we beaver away behind the scenes in an effort to expose wrongdoing. An example of this was the two years of research that Dave Broom put into his article on fakes in Issue 28. Allow me to extend my apologies to you, our readers, for the inconvenience of trying to spot the difference between two identical pictures, and to Nick Morgan and to Dave Broom for all the hard work that was undermined.In order to prevent ANY mistakes at all creeping into this august publication, I have appointed a new Editor. Dominic Roskrow has lots of drinks publishing experience as well as enthusiasm and ideas. Such is Dominic's confidence in his abilities that, starting now, he will send £10 of his own money to every reader who spots a spelling mistake, factual inaccuracy or incorrect picture caption in any issue of Whisky Magazine. Isn't that right, Dom?