On December 7th, Surgeons’ Hall in Edinburgh was host to the 2018 Whisky Magazine Awards. Inside the beautiful venue gathered people from all corners of the industry and they sat down to share a delightful 3-course lunch and a few drams while awards were handed out to those that have excelled this year.
The Independent Bottlers Challenge, the Icons of Whisky, Distiller of the Year and Brand Innovator of the Year were just a few of the categories that were covered throughout the afternoon, while there were also a couple of well-deserved inductions to the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame.
Edrington scooped perhaps the most prestigious award when they took home Distiller of the Year, with their new Macallan Distillery also taking home Visitor Attraction of the Year.
It was also a big day for Glenfiddich and their brand ambassador, Mark Thompson, who retained his title of Scotch Brand Ambassador of the Year for the wonderful and often eclectic work that the distillery has carried out in the UK in 2018. This is the second year running that Mark has picked up this award and surely all eyes will be on next year’s event to see if he can complete the hat-trick.
The event came to a head with two thoroughly deserved introductions to the Hall of Fame. Firstly, master blender, Rachel Barrie, was given the honour for her outstanding contribution to whisky throughout the years. Rachel worked for a great many companies and helped to produce some of the most fantastic and innovative creations in whisky and it’s an award that had perhaps been coming for some time.
Then it was whisky consultant Ken Grier’s turn and he too was utterly deserving. Ken is best known for helping to turn The Macallan into the powerhouse it is today, among many other great achievements, and he is incredibly well thought of in the industry. Once again, it had perhaps been a long time coming.
Rob Allanson, Whisky Magazine Editor, spoke about the inductees, stating: “Our Hall of Fame is about recognising those who have made a lasting contribution on the whisky industry. I can proudly say that today’s inductees both fully warrant that description, whether in the spirits Rachel has helped to create, or the boundaries that Ken has helped knock down. The Scotch industry is in a stronger place due to their hard work and dedication and I look forward to seeing where they take us next.”
When it came to awards for the actual whisky itself, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) were the stars of the Independent Bottlers Challenge. Their whiskies picked up award after award for their quality and range of notes, displaying their knowledge and understanding of independent bottling, cask selection and cask management, but they weren’t the only ones to receive praise.
Cask 88’s delicious Ben Nevis 45 Year Old took home another Gold Medal (the third of the year thus far), this time in the “21 Years & Over” category, with Malts of Scotland taking Silver and Bronze behind them for their Glendronach and Clynelish expressions.
International whisky achievements were also recognised, with Japanese and Australian whiskies running out winners. dekanta’s “Kikou” Eigashima bottling scooped a Bronze award while the Tasmanian Independent Bottlers won “Non-Scotch Independent Bottler of the Year”.
It was an all-round fantastic day for the industry with food, drams and awards dished out by the plenty. With the Icons of Whisky Awards moving across the pond to America in January and then the Grand Finale to come in London in March, it’s exciting times for distilleries, bottlers and Whisky Magazine followers around the world.
Everyone will be waiting in great anticipation to see who’s next to be honoured for their creations and contributions in this industry that we all love so much.
The Whisky Magazine tasting notes on our Ben Nevis 45 Year Old:
The Ben Nevis was said to offer “Butter Icing and brown sugar start on the nose, with aniseed and oak. The palate is sweet at first, before oak rolls in – dry wood, spice and brown leaves. Fruit stays at its core, with apples and pears”.