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The World Whisky Masters 2016 results

The World Whisky Masters returns for a second year, revealing a more vibrant category than ever as producers continue to set up shop across the globe.

The world whisky category is more diverse than ever

It’s long been a three-cornered fight for consumer mindshare when it comes to the global whisk(e)y industry. Scotch, Irish and US producers have for decades banked on both heritage and their inherent character to command attention and it’s worked: the trio have firmly established themselves on the whisk(e)y-making landscape. But there are many new – and not so new – distillers on the block, and the category is, joyfully, more diverse than ever.

So varied were the entries at this year’s World Whisky Masters that we had two panels tackling the quantity of spirit: Athila Roos, private client director for Louis XIII, Sam MacDonald, venue manager at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and Ciaran Duffy, general manager at the Sun Tavern, chaired by Amy Hopkins, deputy editor, The Spirits Business, took on the European whiskies, while Nagesh Balusu, general manager at Salt Whisky Bar and Dining Room; Greg Dillon, luxury spirits writer and brand consultant; Mark Newton, editor at; and Jolyon Dunn, general manager and buyer at Milroy’s of Soho, chaired by myself, Kristiane Sherry,editor of The Spirits Business, took on the rest- of-the-world entrants.

First up for Hopkins’ panel was a short, sweet flight of Europe – Blended Super Premium expressions which drew a Silver medal for the “bold and complex” Adnams Triple Malt Whisky.

Next up was a nine-strong line-up of Europe – Single Malt Premium whiskies, which drew in nine medals, including two Golds, one each for the “autumnal”, “peat fire smoky” Penderyn Celt, and the “abundantly fruity and floral” Gouden Carolus Malt. “Even when they were obviously quite young these were interesting whiskies,” said McDonald, summing up the flight. “At this level of the category it’s a pretty good start,” added Roos.

Moving up the pricing ladder, a fleet of Europe – Single Malt Premium releases attracted two Gold and two Silver medals from the judges. “Full-bodied and well matured”, Penderyn Portwood was the first to strike Gold, followed by Mackmyra’s Svensk Rök, which was deemed “very elegantly made with a hint of peat smoke”.

Judges tasted whiskies from around the world, including Canada, Europe and Australasia

The final flight from Europe similarly pulled in two Silvers and two Golds, with Italian producer Puni the first to hit the Gold standard for its “delicious, barbeque smoke- like” Alba edition, before Sweden-based Spirit of Hven followed up with another peated expression, the “very drinkable” Whisky Seven Stars No. 4 Megre 2.

Summing up the Europe offer, Duffy said: “I think the super-premium and ultra-premium single malts were generally more well-rounded than the blends. It seems that we are getting extremes from all sides of Europe.”

Hopkins concurred: “There was real diversity of flavour here, which, while interesting,means you don’t really know where you stand in the sector. The panel also noted a lack of older liquid, but this is to be expected in a category that is still very much burgeoning. Overall, the entries indicate a very bright future for whisky made across Europe.”
And with that, it was time to take a longer- haul trip around the whisky-producing regions. First stop was Canada and a small flight of Premium expressions which saw Domaine Pinnacle’s Canadian Shield Premium Canadian Whisky win Gold for its “caramel on toast”, “tobacco smoke” and “boiled sweet” qualities. This was quickly followed up by a duo of Canada – Super Premium expressions which attracted a Silver, and a Gold for Shelter Point Distillery Single Malt Whisky. “It had lots of green apples and grassiness with a really nice nose,” assessed Newton.

“The smaller distillery set-up is quite interesting,” mused Dillon on the Canadaoffer as a whole. “Over there it’s vodka gin, rose gin, limoncello, bitters, all kinds of different stuff. They’re more akin to experimenting I think than domestic distilleries are in the UK.”

Next it was time to check out whiskies from South Africa, opening with Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky in the Single Grain Premium segment. Deemed “buttery, soft and smooth” the expression kicked off the country’s product with a Gold medal.

“I thought on the nose it had the caramel depth with the smoke, a hint of peat, then developed into a fruiter number than I thought it would be, with a chocolatey finish,” decreed Dunn.

A flight of Blended Standard followed, where Three Ships Select was awarded Silver, before judges moved on to South Africa Blended Premium, where the panel sniffed out a Gold in the form of “rich, complex” Three Ships Premium Select.

While judges unanimously praised the South African liquid, it was noted that the vast majority come from the one distillery. “It seems too narrow for such a vast continent,” pondered Newton. “It’s weirdly narrow. But it is definitely more of an area on the world whisky map now because of Three Ships and so forth. But it can be more diverse than this.”

It was then time to pop across the Indian Ocean to Australasia where the small flight Single Malt Premium awaited the panel. Hellyers Road Distillery was awarded a Silver, before judges moved on to the much larger Australasia – Single Malt Premium segment.

Two Golds and three Silvers followed, with Sullivans Cove French Oak French Oak – Single Cask HH0400 awarded a Gold for its “toffee notes” and “Sherry influence”, while Hellyers Road Distillery Port Cask Matured Single Malt also scooped Gold for its “thick, jam-like qualities” and “ripened fruit” palate.

This year’s World Whisky Masters was the most successful to date

“I am a big fan of the new Australian whiskies coming out,” commended Dunn. “In a hot climate they know what to do with the oak. It’s been an established area of the world for maybe five years now, and now they’ve got the Tasmanian brand, the doors have opened for new brands to follow. And they can be really good value.”
The final region to explore was the vast country of India. While the market’s producers showcased a mixed bag in terms of volume performance in 2015, the whiskies on hand to sample on the day showed a great deal of quality exists in the category.

Paul John dominated the Single Malt Premium category, winning a Gold medal for its Edited expression. “I like the hint of smoke behind it that counteracts the wood spice. It ties together the whole drink,” said Dunn.

In the Single Malt Super Premium flight, Paul John came up trumps again, securing a pair of Silvers for its Classic Select Cask and Peated Select Cask. And it was Paul John 6 Year Old – Batch 2, bottled by ATOM Brands’ That Boutique-y Whisky Company which netted solid Gold in the Ultra Premium flight.

“It was really, really fruity for me, with cherry notes – it was a really well-balanced whisky,” assessed Balusu.
“Indian whisky itself is huge,” summed up Dillon. “It’s the biggest consumption market in the world. I think we’ll see more of the traditional flavour profile you’d expect from a ‘typical’ whisky coming through.”

For Dunn, it’s a case of looking for greater variety. “I would quite like to see them experiment more with cooler climate maturation – maybe that would take away that prominent woody spice and result in a more balanced dram.”

All in all, judges were delighted by the breadth of product on offer. “Australasia had it’s own unique identity more than anywhere else,” praised Newton. And with ever more countries looking to get into whisky production, and the likes of Japan leading the charge, there should be more good things to follow.

Click through to the following page for the complete list of medal winners from The World Whisky Masters 2016.


Brand Owner Product Medal
Europe – Blended Super Premium
Adnams Adnams Triple Malt Whisky Silver
Europe – Single Malt Premium
The Welsh Whisky Company Penderyn Celt Gold
Stokerij De Molenberg Gouden Carolus Malt Gold
The Welsh Whisky Company Penderyn Madeira Silver
The Welsh Whisky Company Penderyn Legend Silver
The Welsh Whisky Company Penderyn Myth Silver
Gebr J&M Ziegler GmbH Aureum 1865 5 Jahre Silver
Gebr J&M Ziegler GmbH Aureum 1865 Chestnut Silver
Gebr J&M Ziegler GmbH Aureum 1865 Grave Digger Silver
ATOM Brands English Whisky Co 5 Year Old – Batch 1
(That Boutique-y Whisky Company)
Europe – Single Malt Super Premium
The Welsh Whisky Company Penderyn Portwood Gold
Mackmyra Whisky Svensk Rök Gold
Puni Distilleria srl Puni Nova Silver
Gebr J&M Ziegler GmbH Aureum 1865 Fassstärke Silver
Europe – Single Malt Ultra Premium
Spirit of Hven Backafallsbyn Spirit of Hven Single Malt Whisky Seven Stars No 4 Megre 2 Gold
Puni Distilleria SRL Puni Alba Gold
Mackmyra Whisky Moment XVI Silver
Mackmyra Whisky Blomstertid Silver
Canada – Premium
Domaine Pinnacle Inc Canadian Shield Premium Canadian Whisky Gold
Canada – Super Premium
Shelter Point Distillery Shelter Point Distillery Single Malt Whisky Gold
Sazerac Company Caribou Crossing Single Barrel Canadian Whisky Silver
South Africa – Single Grain Premium
Distell Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky Gold
South Africa – Blended Standard
Distell Three Ships Select Silver
South Africa – Blended Premium
Distell Three Ships Premium Select Gold
Distell Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish Silver
Australasia – Single Malt Premium
Whisky Tasmania PTY LTD Hellyers Road Distillery Original 10 Year SM Silver
Australasia – Single Malt Super Premium
Tasmania Distillery Sullivans Cove French Oak – Single Cask HH0400 Gold
Whisky Tasmania PTY LTD Hellyers Road Distillery Port Cask Matured SM Gold
Tasmania Distillery Sullivans Cove French Oak – Single Cask HH0419 Silver
Tasmania Distillery Sullivans Cove American Oak – Single Cask HH0354 Silver
Tasmania Distillery Sullivans Cove American Oak – Single Cask HH0332 Silver
India – Single Malt Premium
John Distilleries Paul John Indian Single Malt Whisky – Edited Gold
John Distilleries Paul John Indian Single Malt Whisky – Brilliance Silver
John Distilleries Paul John Indian Single Malt Whisky – Bold Silver
India – Single Malt Super Premium
John Distilleries Paul John Indian Single Malt Whisky – Classic Select Cask Silver
John Distilleries Paul John Indian Single Malt Whisky – Peated Select Cask Silver
India – Single Malt Ultra Premium
ATOM Brands Paul John 6 Year Old – Batch 2
(That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

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