Winners from the World Whiskies Awards will be announced on Friday 21 March 2014.
Once again the bar has been raised for the standard of liquid entered into this most exacting of competitions. This year we saw more producers from around the world submitting their wares for consideration in the hope of picking up an accolade.
This year we decided to award some silver and bronze medals to celebrate the quality of entrants.
Despite this I still say that this is the hardest competition to win a medal in. This is mainly down to the rounds that the whiskies have to go through to qualify. Each time refining the pack down, each round having to meet a strict scoring criteria to get through.
We believe that great whiskies should be balanced and well put together; and also that, after three rounds there can be only one winner in an overall category.
Our panel of expert judges tasted blind, only receiving the scantest of information to help them.
They sipped, savoured, added water and assessed each sample on its own merits and against its peers. Looking for poise and harmony, they praised balance, complexity and character and also took into consideration the age of the whisky, asking themselves not just how good the whisky was, but whether it outperformed in its age category. The results showed how effective this approach to judging is.
This type of blind judging puts an end to arguments about price brackets; you cannot really argue that expensive whiskies always win if the judges are not aware of the price tag. The job of the judges gets progressively harder during the rounds and the competition for the winning spots become more difficult to attain. As ever my favourite part of this competition is the third round held in London with a host of industry experts.
The banter and chatter round the table is always worth listening to. From industry stories and tales of travelling to the occasional stab at trying to guess the whiskies, it is an excellent and sociable way to spend a few hours tasting. Also tasting in the company of so many experienced palates is always enlightening, the assembled whisky knowledge on this panel, and among our core panel, is second to none.
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