Having been whittled down from 48 entries in four categories, by a panel of industry judges earlier this week, the final eight whiskies will now be put through the taste test by members of the public at a series of roving judging sessions, taking place during this year’s festival which runs from April 27th to May 1st.
|The 2017 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Awards Finalists|
This year the number of categories in the awards has been expanded from three to four, in order to reflect the huge range of Speyside whiskies currently available.
This year’s category finalists
Tamdhu Batch Strength 002
12 Year Old and Under:
Aberlour 12 Year Old
Cragganmore 2004 Distiller’s Edition
13 Year Old to 20 Year Old:
The Glenlivet 18 Year Old
Glenfiddich 15 Year Old
20 Year Old and Over:
Mannochmore 25 Year Old Special Release
The Macallan 30 Year Old Sherry Cask
The judging panel was made up of expert noses from the spirits industry, including retailers, writers and hoteliers. Among them were Martine Nouet, renowned French food and drinks writer – Dave Broom, whisky writer and editor-in-chief of scotchwhisky.com - Mike Lord from The Whisky Shop Dufftown – Steve Rush, whisky industry consultant and founder of The Whisky Wire - Annabel Miekle, Director of Keepers of the Quaich and whisky writer and consultant Blair Bowman.
Commenting on this week’s judging, Julie Fraser, Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Company Secretary, said: “I don’t envy them their task. Although it sounds like the perfect way to spend a wintry afternoon on Speyside, it is actually a really difficult role to perform and it is not one that I, even as a whisky fan, would relish. As with any other awards scheme, the judging is always performed in a blind taste test to ensure that the results are completely neutral."
She went on to say: "Although the panel may sometimes have an idea about what is in the glass they have no way of knowing for sure and I think it is quite fair to say that a few of them were rather surprised when the identities of the whiskies were finally revealed. The judges felt that all of the entries were of a very high standard this year, and it made their job of selecting just two finalists in each category particularly difficult.”
The awards are sponsored by Forsyths of Rothes, the coppersmiths responsible for building many of the pot stills in which the shortlisted single malts were distilled. The judging took place at the luxurious Knockomie Hotel in Forres, which sponsors the tasting session. The winners will be announced at the year’s festival closing ceilidh on Sunday, April 30 at the Knockando Distillery.
In addition to the awards, festival organisers have also today previewed the line up of events for this years festival via the spiritofspeyside.com website. Ticket sales will go live on February 7th.
Posted by Steve Rush