Awards & Events

The United Nations of Whisky

With a few changes to previous years' events, the Icons of Whisky 2007 shows what a broad church the whisky community is. Rob Allanson reports
By Rob Allanson
There have been long and exhaustive voting rounds to draw up the Icons of Whisky this year, with much debate over each category.If truth be told there are only really three things that are important in the whisky business, people, product and place.When you blend these things together you get the passion, craft and history behind every drop of the good stuff.To celebrate the people and places behind the whiskies you enjoy, the Icons of Whisky was launched six years ago.Down the years there has been a little reshaping of some categories and some have evolved into different competitions.This year we changed the judging process, with regional heats in the United States, Japan, Ireland and Scotland.Each regional heat was voted on by industry members only in that country.Once we had the regional winners, we opened the field for other contenders from the rest of the world, leading to some interesting inclusions recognising the fact that passion for good whisky does not just emanate from the four main producing nations.The responsibility for selecting the final Icons was handed to an independent editorial panel, and it has to be said that the voting in many categories was painfully close.The debate is bound to rage over who has made the shortlists, well at least until next year, but it is never a perfect system with something that is as subjective as asking the industry to vote on for its preferences.But we hope that you will celebrate the diversity of the industry and congratulate the winners.It has to be said that given the global nature of this year’s awards to make the shortlists, both regional and final, is a tremendous honour.As in previous years some of the bigger and more established companies have been pushed out of the running by smaller operations showing true promise.Special mention must go to Jean Donnay, whose scored impressively for his first outing in the competition.While it would not be right to go through the judges’ reasons for their decisions other than to say that every vote was cast with serious thought and after much deliberation.The outcome of all of this is the continuing reign of some old faces and the emergence of some first timers.For full coverage of the American and Japanese Icons please see Issue 61.See our main coverage in the features section of the website.