The World Whisky Masters 2014 Results

13th August, 2014 by Becky Paskin
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Some whiskies still had some way to go to compete with the likes of Scotch, while others were there already

In Australia – Tasmania to be exact – a region developing its own reputation as a forerunner in quality whisky production, produced three entries that stood out as being competitive on the world stage. The judges were impressed by the whiskies from Hellyers Road Distillery, which were “well constructed” and fruity, while an Ultra-Premium entry from Overeem was also described as “well balanced and accessible”.

When it came to European whiskies, our judges felt there was still some way to go to compete against the likes of Scotch, who dominate the single malt category. Two entries from German distillery Ziegler gained a Gold and Silver medal, while Welsh distillery Penderyn attracted a Silver medal for its Madeira cask single malt.

While Scotland is beginning to build the single grain category en masse, a Burgundy cask-finished entry from Filliers in Belgium proved that the Scots aren’t the only ones capable of putting their stamp on the category. “I’m loving the trend of single grain coming out,” said Quirk.

Usually The World Whisky Masters includes products hailing from America, Canada, Japan, and any other region aside from Ireland and Scotland. However this year, in light of the leaps and bounds world whisky has made in recent times, the competition has expanded to include Scotch; partly due to overwhelming requests from Scotch producers, but also as an experiment to see how the most highly esteemed of all whisky categories fares on a world stage.

First up were the single malts, in Premium and Super Premium categories, where 15 medals were awarded overall. In the lower price spectrum, judges were impressed by Beam Suntory’s Laphroaig Quarter Cask, which attained the only Master, and felt the rest of the line-up displayed characteristics of what is expected from Scotch whisky.

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The judges left to right: Neil Ridley, CaskStrength; Adam McCullogh, The Cadogan Arms; Becky Paskin, The Spirits Business; Charles Montanaro, 5cc; Toby Quirk, freelance brand ambassador; and Joel Harrison, Caskstrength.

Moving up a weight class into the Super Premiums, two expressions from Ben Nevis Distillery won Masters, a 21-year-old aged in refill hogsheads and ruby port bodega butts, and a 25-year-old aged in first-fill Bourbon and Sherry casks. Five Gold medals were awarded in total here, all to expressions that demonstrated in full some “classic Scotch whisky styles”.

In the burgeoning Single Grain Scotch categories, which rounded off the day’s tasting, three expressions from William Grant & Sons’ new Girvan brand achieved a Master and two Golds. ”This is a very on-trend category at the moment that’s providing us with great quality liquid that was previously reserved for blends,” noted Quirk. “These three cracking expressions from Scotland prove single grain is the up and coming trend in whisky.”

By the end of the day, the judges had a pretty good impression of the standard of whisky being produced by most regions in the world, and were able to offer an objective view on where was leading the pack.

“It was interesting to be able to compare side by side what the world whiskies are offering, which are clearly closing the gap in quality and consistency to Scotch,” said Montanaro. “Special mention has to go to the single grains and American whiskey categories which stand out in originality and concept. They are truly pushing the boundaries in terms of how whisky is perceived.”

Click through the following pages to discover the World Whisky Masters 2014.

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