Stepping up

William C. Meyers was one of three writers tasked with updating Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion for a sixth edition. So who is he?
By William C Meyers
If ever there was a case of ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’ it’s of that William C. Meyers.

His name appears as one of the people who updated and revised Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion – known in America as The Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch. And yet many whisky enthusiasts don’t know who he is.

So how did he end up contributing to the world’s best-selling whisky book?

“When I read John Hansell’s Malt Advocate blog stating that he had declined the Michael Jackson project I contacted John to express my interest,” he says. “John put me in touch with the correct people who deemed me worthy
to contribute.”

Meyers was taken on because the publishers were keen to have an American input and Meyers demonstrated an impressive passion and knowledge of whisky as well as an understanding of Michael Jackson and his work.

“I do have the greatest respect and admiration for Michael,” he says. “To produce this book and then do four updates is incredible. Reviewing whiskies is enjoyable work but it is time consuming and requires great attention to detail. I have all six editions of the book and still turn to various editions as references. The experience has been incredible. While the book involved a great deal of work, it was an honour to assist with such an important project.”

In fact Meyers is an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to whisky, an attorney by trade who was introduced to malt whisky by a friend when he achieved a place at law school.

“He said that all lawyers drank Scotch,” says Meyers. “I was fascinated to learn of all the various distilleries after a Scotch tasting, so I bought the third edition of Michael’s Complete Guide to Single Malt and began my journey across Scotland.”

Meyers’ passion took him into the world of single cask bottlings and when he finds something he likes he sets out to buy as many bottle of it as he can, at least buying one to open and one to hold in reserve. But working on the Michael Jackson book helped broaden his tastes even further.

”I was able to try many whiskies for the first time, and several were so good I had to purchase a few bottles to add to my personal collection,” he says.

Meyers is aware that some people feel that a sixth edition of the Companion should never have been published and that Jackson’s work should have been left alone.

“Unfortunately many of the bottlings from prior editions are unavailable and are extremely difficult to find,” he says.
“I hope the current edition will serve as a guide and reference to entice, educate and excite whisky drinkers to explore the fantastic world of whiskies.”

Given the growth of the internet and the ‘reviews on demand’ that it offers, is there still a need for a book like this one any more. Definitely, says Meyers.

“The range and breadth of whiskies is so great and can be overwhelming,” he says.

“I suggest people compare our reviews to their palates while selecting new bottles to try, and learn about the bottles they enjoy. I have seen people bring the book to tastings and shops, like a whisky travel guide. That makes it worthwhile.”

Fact file

Name: William C Meyers
Age: 41
Home: St Louis, Missouri, USA
Currenty drinking: 62.15 Glenlochy from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Favourite whiskies: Macallan 1949, Ardbeg Comittee Cask 2392 Favourite distilleries: Bunnahabhain, Highland Park, Macallan, Ardbeg, Talisker, Balvenie, Glenfarclas, Jura, Longmorn, Laphroaig, Glen Keith, Lagavulin, Bowmore, BenRiach, Aberlour, Cragganmore, Glenglassaugh