Awards & Events

World's best whiskies honoured

More than 150 whiskies, three rounds of judging and there can be only five...we reveal the winners
By Rob Allanson
See our main awards page at Magazine Panel
Rob Allanson
Thierry Benitah
Dave Broom
Charles Maclean
Annabel Meikle
Martine Nouet
Dominic Roskrow
Keir Sword The quest is a theme often found in literature and when we set off on our whisky quest the task facing us was almost as difficult as the old Holy Grail quests.However who better to saddle up and announce the best whiskies of the world than the team at Whisky Magazine.We assembled some of the best noses and experts in the business to form our independent Whisky Magazine panel. These were the brave souls who tackled the some 158 whiskies that initially entered the competition.The categories are based on the five commonly held whisky groupings which define the style and process of whisky/whiskey production; malt whisky, blended whisky, blended malt whisky, American whiskey and whisky liqueurs. Where appropriate there were age sub-categories.Chaired by Dave Broom, this annual selection of the very best proprietary whiskies evolved out of Best of the Best, the biannual tasting held since 2000.The judging process started with the independent panel receiving samples at home and judging blind.This gave us the sub-category age winners, so 12 Years and Under, 13 to 20 Years, 21 plus and Vintage.These were then tasted by an invited panel spanning the whisky industry on the eve of Whisky Live London at the beginning of March.This second round gave us the category winner. This edition’s cover features all those winners.For the final round, the responsibility of choosing the ‘World’s Best’ was handed back to the Whisky Magazine panel, in a final blind tasting.To say that the competition was tough would be an understatement. The debate is bound to rage over who has won what and why but we hope that you will celebrate the diversity of whiskies and congratulate the winners.It has to be said that given the quality of this year’s awards to get through to the second round, let alone the finals is a tremendous honour.Some keen eyed readers will notice that we have only included American and Canadian sub category winners in these awards. The final winners will be included in the next edition after they are put through their paces at Whisky Live New York – so watch this space.WORLD’S BEST SINGLE MALT TALISKER 18 YEARS OLD
“Elegant with fascinating balance between smoke and subtle sweet fruit. Ever changing in the glass and on the palate. Gentle waves of flavour, superb balance and a classic peppery finish. Seamless.” Dave Broom “Baked orange pudding sprinkled with cinnamon, pomanders and a trace of manila envelope. A silky mouth feel and develops into richer orange marmalade with burnt edges” Annabel Meikle “Toffee and rich peat smoke on the nose. The alcohol bite on the palate gives way to rich sweet peat smoke, some sea notes and plenty of peppery spice. Nicely rounded and complete. Some wood, too, suggesting its age. Like chewing honeycomb and smoky bacon at the same time. Long, spicy and peaty finish. Whisky doesn’t get much finer than this.” Dominic Roskrow“Warm, rich and attractive. Leather, pipe-tobacco, sweet sherry and polished oak on the nose, followed by a good creamy texture and a warming finish.A very attractive dram.” Keir Sword WORLD’S BEST BLENDED WHISKY SUNTORY WHISKY HIBIKI 30 YEARS OLD
“Mature, deep, powerful, showing its age, with assertive wood influence but sufficient weight and power to balance. Classic blending.” Dave Broom “Furniture polish and caramalised fruit stuck to the tray.Hot dry mouthfeel, lingering aniseed. With a splash of water more layers reveal crystalline fruits and burnt marmalade. A thick, velvety mouthfeel for a big complex dram.” Annabel Meikle “Deep oak, beeswax and dried fruit on the nose. A big whiff of walnut and Dawson plums. On the palate the oak is prevailing but not in an assertive way. Sweetness merges through with toffee, burnt cream. The finish is well balanced. A beautiful blend of oak and fruit.Quite impressive.” Martine Nouet “Most potent nose in its class with ripe red fruits, sherry. Wood, smoke and sherry trifle fruits in abundance. All very chunky - a whisky with the volume turned up to 11. Wake up! It’s not so much talking to, but shouting at you. Finish is just as you’d expect. Rich, syrupy and long” Dominic Roskrow “This is a very different beast. There is great complexity – green apple skins, oranges, dark chocolate, good oak, great maturity – soft perfumed character with lots of, but not overpowering, oak character and finished off by a great, long-lasting sweet grape finish. Great!” Keir Sword “Sweet, mellow and very complex. Too easy to drink.Very dangerous.” Thierry Benitah WORLD’S BEST BLENDED MALT WHISKY TAKETSURU PURE MALT 21 YEARS OLD
“Head and shoulders above the rest in this category. A complex mix of oak, smoke and dense toffeed sweetness.” Dave Broom “Apple blossom, juicy pears and apples, mingled with fresh grass on the nose. Also a hint of mint. Smooth, delicate and sweet on the palate with a sweet rounded finish. Absolutely charming. Reminiscent of a walk in a Norman orchard bathed in morning dew.” Martine Nouet “Rich and inviting nose, with lots of sherried fruits. Rich red fruits and weighty aged malt and wood notes. The finish is lingering and delightful.” Dominic Roskrow “Big with lots of ripe fruit, lychees in particular. Some mint and butterscotch increase the complexity. Soft and chewy with some mango character. Very attractive.” Keir Sword “A big whisky with some distinct sherry notes. Japanese whisky at its best.” Thierry Benitah

“Hugely complex: perfumed with dried apricot, pear, orange and cinnamon. There’s honey, hazelnut, orange blossom water, spices and light smoke. Intensely concentrated mid-palate with a mass of honeyed red and black fruits, spice, apple. Superb balance and harmony between all the elements. Sweet toffee. Smoke. Proof, if it were needed, that this is a first growth distillery.” Dave Broom“Talcum powder, confection, strawberry jam. To taste it has a quaint old fashioned feel, dry as a tinder box and a wisp of smoke. A fairly feminine dram with layers of perfumed talc lingering on the aftertaste.” Annabel Meikle “Rich and profound. Caramelised fruit, custard, shortcake and a touch of polished floor on the nose. The same delicious sensation of paradise lost with cooked fruit on the palate. This is a superb late afternoon dram to enjoy for a relaxing moment listening to Beethoven’s 7th symphony.” Martine Nouet “Primrose, big bold fruits on the nose. Absolutely dripping with style and class. Everything in perfect balance in the mouth, with oddball blackcurrant mixing with hints of smoke and a captivating fruit and malt two step running through its heart. The finish is long and pleasant.” Dominic Roskrow “A fantastic dram. Plenty of coconut and exotic fruits. Not to be missed.” Thierry Benitah WORLD’S BEST WHISKY LIQUEUR ARRAN GOLD FROMISLE OF ARRAN DISTILLERIES
“Melted toffee with butterscotch on the nose. Palate continues the toffee with hints of honey, vanilla and cream with a little mint. Bags of chocolate with a good slug of whisky. Not as cloying as some liqueurs.” Rob Allanson“Creamy, nutty with a lot of toffee. Arran style liqueur.” Thierry Benitah