2020 Whisky Bible Winners

That time of the year again where one man’s dedication to trying whisk(e)y comes in the form of The Whisky Bible. Weather you agree with him or not, Jim Murray has built a very big brand on trying endless amounts of whisky and publishing his findings for all to see. It’s good fun reading through it and coming across sometimes amusing anecdotes about his experience with certain whiskies. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be taken as gospel, just enjoy it for what it is…one man’s opinion and his journey through the whisk(e)y world.

Kentucky is the definitive winner here! This year the top 3 spots have been awarded to all American whiskies! Not only that, but all from the Sazerac company.

2020 World Whisky of the Year
1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Second Finest Whisky in the World
William Larue Weller 125.7 Proof

Third Finest Whisky in the World
Thomas Handy Sazerac Rye 128.8 Proof

The 1792 being crafted in the Barton 1792 distillery, while both the William Larue and Thomas Handy are produced at Buffalo Trace.

“To not only be named World Whisky of the Year but also to have our whiskeys named second and third finest is astonishing,” said Mark Brown, Sazerac president. “We could not be happier or more motivated to continue to strive for perfection in the American whiskeys we make.”

The team here at Whisky Merchant happen to think these 3 whiskies are, in fact, delicious! If they should have the top 3 spots or not, that’s for you to decide. I couldn’t number my top 3 favourite bottles, because like most other things, it just comes down to the mood I am in!

Have a gander at the list of other winners and see how it compares to your tastes!

Single Cask of the Year
Nantou Distillery Omar Cask Strength Bourbon Cask

  • SCOTCH
  • Scotch Whisky of the Year: Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition
    Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition
    Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask): The Macphail 1949 China Special Edition 1
    Scotch Blend of the Year: Ballantine’s 17 Years Old
    Scotch Grain of the Year: The Last Drop Dumbarton 1977
    Scotch Vatted Malt of the Year: Glen Castle Blended Malt 1990
    Single Malt Scotch No Age Statement: Glen Grant Rothes Chronicles Cask Haven
    10 Years & Under (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 10 Years
    10 Years & Under (Single Cask): Annandale Man O’ Sword
    11-15 Years (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 15 Years Batch Strength
    11-15 Years (Single Cask): Signatory Vintage Edradour Ballechin 12 Year Old
    16-21 Years (Multiple Casks): Glen Grant Aged 18 Years Rare Edition
    16-21 Years (Single Cask): Whisky Castle Glen Spey Aged 21 Years
    22-27 Years (Multiple Casks): Glenmorangie Grand Vintage 1996
    22-27 Years (Single Cask): The Whisky Shop Glendronach Aged 26 Years
    28-34 Years (Multiple Casks): Ben Nevis 32 Years Old 1966
    28-34 Years (Single Cask): Gordon & MacPhail Inverleven 1985
    35-40 Years (Multiple Casks): Port Ellen 39 Years Old
    35-40 Years (Single Cask): Glenfarclas The Family Casks 1978 W18
    41 Years & Over (Multiple Casks): Glen Scotia 45 Year Old
    41 Years & Over (Single Cask): The Macphail 1949 China Special Edition 1
  • BLENDED SCOTCH

    No Age Statement (Standard): Ballantine’s Finest
    No Age Statement (Premium): Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost & Rare
    5-12 Years: Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Years Old
    13-18 Years: Ballantine’s 17 Years Old
    19 – 25 Years: Dewar’s Aged 25 Years The Signature
    26 – 50 Years: The Last Drop 56 Year Old Blend

    IRISH WHISKEY

    Irish Whiskey of the Year: Redbreast Aged 12 Years Cask Strength
    Irish Pot Still Whiskey of the Year: Redbreast Aged 12 Years Cask Strength
    Irish Single Malt of the Year: Bushmills Aged 21 Years
    Irish Blend of the Year: Jameson
    Irish Single Cask of the Year: Kinahan’s Special Release Project 11 Year Old

    AMERICAN WHISKEY

    Bourbon of the Year: 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
    Rye of the Year: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 128.8 Proof
    US Micro Whisky of the Year: Garrison Brothers Balmorhea
    US Micro Whisky of the Year (Runner Up): 291 Barrel Proof Colorado Whiskey Aged 2 Years

    BOURBON

    No Age Statement (Multiple Barrels): 1792 Full Proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon
    No Age Statement (Single Barrel): Colonel E H Taylor Single Barrel Bottled In Bond
    9 Years & Under: Russel’s Reserve Single Barrel
    10 – 12 Years: Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Aged 12 Years
    11 – 15 Years: Pappy Van Winkle 15 Years Old
    16 – 20 Years: Michter’s 20 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon
    21 Years & Over: Pappy Van Winkle 23 Years Old

    RYE

    No Age Statement: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac 128.8 Proof
    Up to 10 Years: Knob Creek Cask Strength
    11-15 Years: Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 Years Old
    Over 15 Years: Sazerac 18 Years Old
    Single Cask: Knob Creek Single Barrel Select

    CANADIAN WHISKY

    Canadian Whisky of the Year: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

    JAPANESE WHISKY

    Japanese Whisky of the Year: Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt
    Single Malt of the Year (MB): The Matsui Mizunara Cask

    EUROPEAN WHISKY

    European Whisky of the Year (Multiple): Thy Whisky No. 9 Bøg Single Malt (Denmark)
    European Whisky of the Year (Single): Penderyn Single Cask no. M75-32 (Wales)

    WORLD WHISKIES

    Asian Whisky of the Year: Nantou Distillery Omar Bourbon Cask no.11140804 (Taiwan)
    Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year: Bakery Hill Peated Malt Cask Strength (Australia)

    Westland Whiskey

    We just received a couple bottlings from Seattle’s Westland Distillery. They were awarded Craft Producer of the Year by Icons of Whisky in 2016 and Master Distiller/Blender of the Year in 2018. They are passionate about creating authentic American single malts, and establishing a unique cultural identity. They have no desire replicate or copy Scotch.

    Even though they have been around for a little while, they are new to us. The team here always enjoys receiving out the ordinary bottles! Once we are able to crack some open, we will report back. This may also add to the list of excuses to visit Seattle!!

    In the meantime, grab a bottle and try for yourself!

    American Oak: http://bit.ly/2Vccdnq

    The distillery’s flagship whiskey and a part of their core range. Combining their signature five-malt barley bill and brand new American oak casks, they are creating something truly their own! Like Scotland pulls styles from their regions, this American Oak is a true reflection of the Pacific Northwest!

    NOSE: Lemon and orange custard, waffle cone, crème brûlée, chocolate custard, jasmine.
    PALATE: Rich fruit, Rainier cherries, Swiss chocolate, almond, bananas, cream, Turkish coffee.

    Sherry Wood: http://bit.ly/2IlRhoS

    Created in Scottish fashion. Using their five-malt spirit, they fill hogsheads and butts sourced from the same regions that Scotland acquires theirs. Westland does something more unusual and has their sherry casks shipped whole. They say it creates a much more vibrant sherry character, but still allows the barley notes to shine through!

    Nose: Honey-dipped oatmeal raisin cookies, maple syrup, banana pancakes. 
    Palate:
     Kiwi, maple syrup, raisins, sweet cookies, pastries, stewed yellow fruits. “

    International Wine and Spirits Competition Winners

    All of us here are super pleased and proud that a few of our bottlings have taken home awards at this years IWSC!

    As a company, we take great pride in bringing our customers the best products we can. So when we are sampling different casks to potentially be able to mature and bottle, we take great care in choosing something special! To be able to enter our carefully chosen whiskies in these competitions and take home awards just motivates us to bring our customers more! It makes us extremely happy when the outside world tastes and enjoys our offerings!

    As much as we love our bottlings…we don’t want to be the only ones drinking them!! Please, share a glass with us!

    Bellow is a bit about our Stalla Dhu range if you are not familiar:

    STALLA DHU

    A rare collection of small batch and single cask malts from Scotland’s finest distilleries.

    First and second generation members of our family of independent bottlers carefully select the whiskies showing particular promise.

    We begin by managing the wood and continue by housing the environment and casks that best affect the ageing to achieve the unique results we strive for.

    We let the whisky slumber till the time is right and then select the correct ABV to bring a very special wee dram to you.

    The following took home awards :

    Stalla Dhu Speyside 40% – Silver 2019

    Stalla Dhu Single Cask Saorsa Single Malt – Bronze 2019

    Stalla Dhu Auchroisk 1997 19 YO 47% Single Malt – Bronze 2019

    Stalla Dhu Single Cask Ardmore 60.5% Single Malt – Silver 2019

    Many thanks to all of you whisky lovers out there! Click on the photos to purchase any of the bottles or just peruse through our huge selection of other spirits!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Diageo’s 2019 Special Releases Teased

    Diageo will be releasing their 2019 Special Releases collection later this fall. A collection selected by Diageo master blender Dr Craig Wilson. ‘Rare by Nature’ is this years theme and will be a collection of 8 rare bottlings from the company’s different distilleries.

    Even though they are not released yet and no prices available, Diageo have released what whiskies are on the list. Definitely some really exciting ones on the list that we can’t wait to try! None from Cao Ila or any blended malts this year, but we’re not complaining! Have a look and see what you think.

    “Each transports you to its heartland, connecting you to that particular part of Scotland and the very people who shaped each dram.”

    • Dalwhinnie 30 Years Old – “An extra matured and unusual older expression which retains its undeniably gentle character.”
    • Lagavulin 12 Years Old – “A truly spirited, yet youthful expression from our iconic islay distillery, our home for over 200 years.”
    • Mortlach 26 Years Old – “The beast of Dufftown at its most impressive.”
    • Pittyvaich 29 Years Old – “A rare sighting from this ghost distillery that delivers a mature and smooth single malt.”
    • Talisker 15 Years Old – “A sweet, yet deep and spicy bottling layer with unmistakeable maritime flavors.
    • Cardhu 14 Years Old – “A supremely elegant and unique expression of our warm-hearted speyside scotch.”
    • Cragganmore 12 Years Old – “A complex and intriguing bottling that combines Speyside elegance with a touch of spice and smoke.”
    • The Singleton of Glen Ord 18 Years Old – “A different and delicious spicier expression previously never bottled.”

    We will let you know later when more is released. Until then, happy drinking! 🙂

    New Edinburgh Distillery!

    The Holyrood distillery will be the first single malt whisky distillery in operation, in the centre of Edinburgh, since 1925!

    Nestled in a 180 year old railway building at the edge of Holyrood Park, the distillery is set to officially launch on the 30th of July. Just in time for the festival. The distillery will offer guided tours and will house a visitor centre/shop. Currently they are producing a small range of gins that will be for sale in their shop, along with a selection of gifts and a private collection of vintage whiskies. The tours on offer at the moment range from a basic distillery tour, whisky/gin experiences to a whisky masterclass with their head distiller.

    Holyrood Distillery is the outcome of the vision from Rob & Kelly Carpenter, who started the Canadian branch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, along with David Robertson, former Master Distiller at The Macallan! Together they wanted to bring back a distillery to the city they love and produce some top notch spirits along the way.

    If you will be up in Edinburgh after the 30th try and pop in for a tour! Tell them whiskymerchant.com sent you!

    Tickets can be booked at www.holyrooddistillery.co.uk

    5 Great Gins to Start the Summer off Right.

    Let me start this off by saying this is not an end all, be all list! This is just a list of some our favourites at this very moment, and changes all of the time. There are SO many great gins out right now with more and more coming out every day. This list is in no particular order.

    Nikka Coffey Gin

    Where it’s from: Japan, Nikka Distillery

    WM Thoughts: Easily one of the best gins out there. In true Nikka fashion, they have put an incredible amount of work and passion into this gin. It’s honestly miles above a lot of other gins out there. Knowing what we know about Nikka, we had a feeling this gin would be good, just didn’t realise it would be this good! It is pricier than most gins on the market, but man is it worth the try. They used 11 botanicals that were perfectly handled and made this gin so nicely balanced. You can taste the complexity and the silky texture you get from that Coffey Still. The bright and zesty nature is perfect for your summer cocktails. There is a touch of apples, exotic citrusy fruits relating to the history of Nikka, at the end you get a nice citrus zest and spice hints of the Japanese Sansho pepper on the finish.

    Price: £47.83 – bit.ly/31y8Udg

    Aviation Gin

    Where it’s from: Portland, Oregon

    WM Thoughts: I know since Ryan Reynolds bought over this gin, it just exploded on the market. Please don’t let that put you off if you haven’t tried it yet. I do know a lot of people that avoid mass marketed products, alcohol or otherwise. You would be doing yourself a disservice not trying it. I remember before RR had bought it, Aviation was known amongst enthusiasts as a fantastic gin. After the takeover they had an injection of life with an absolutely stellar marketing team! Carefully crafted in Portland, you can definitely taste the juniper throughout, with sarsaparilla flavours and the citrus peel helps punch out the lavender.

    Price: £32.09 – bit.ly/2MNOJVj

    Caorunn Raspberry Scottish Gin

    Where it’s from: Scotland, Balmenach Distillery

    WM Thoughts: We absolutely love Caorunn’s standard expression, but thought we’d add something a little different to this list with tasty raspberry gin. Caorunn is carefully crafted in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park at the Balmenach Distillery, where the surroundings provide them with some of the best ingredients to create this delicious spirit. The distillery has so much wonderful heritage producing some great spirits, it’s not surprising their gin is so good. In addition to the 11 botanicals (5 local and 6 traditional) used in the base spirit, they are crafting it with Perthshire raspberries in small batches. The raspberry infusion gives it such a nice and bright fruity flavour with some great tartness coming from the Rowan berries! Perfect in a G&T garnished with raspberries and apple.

    Price: £20.99 – bit.ly/2RafWQm

    Hernö Gin

    Where it’s from: Sweden

    WM Thoughts: This one is not as widely known outside of Europe. Hernö was the most awarded gin in Europe 2013-2017, as well as being named World’s best gin by IWSC. Needless to say this a must try gin so you can form your own conclusion! They were the first dedicated gin distillery in Sweden, so from day one their sole focus has been to craft the best possible gin. Using natural and organic ingredients, along with being distilled in their hand hammered copper stills just adds to the great story behind Hernö. Tastes of ripe berries, lemon zest and finishes with a nice bite of black pepper.

    Price: £31.95 – bit.ly/2F8uyeh

    Isle of Harris Gin

    Where it’s from: Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

    WM Thoughts: This one is a fun one for us! A couple of us have our roots in Harris and are always pleased when we can support something so close to our chest! This gin is the first spirit release from the distillery and is being received well. It is nicknamed “The Social Distillery ” because it holds tight to it’s connection to the local community and embracing nature of the people who live there! You would be doing yourself a favour by taking a trip up there. The gin uses 9 carefully selected botanicals, one of which being the local sugar kelp. The sugar kelp is hand-harvested by a friend of the distillery and local diver, from the sea-lochs nearby. This botanical gives the gin great intricate maritime flavours. Orange peel, grapefruit and coriander, with a nice crisp and sweet seaweed taste. Getting a hold of this one is a bit different as the only place you can order it is from Harris Distillery itself, through delivery or click & collect. I highly recommended you ordering a bottle from them!

    Price: £37.00 – bit.ly/Isleofharris

    AN EXTRA ONE FOR GOOD MEASURE!

    The Botanist Gin

    A gin known by most already and needs no real introduction! Created by the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay. Most definitely an essential gin for anyone’s shelf! Always ranks as a favourite from all of us here! bit.ly/2wPNV7r