Almost 400 whisky enthusiasts gathered on Wednesday night at Glenfiddich Distillery for the Opening Dinner of the world’s biggest whisky festival where the winners of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards were unveiled. The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards are the only whisky awards where the real experts - whisky consumers - have the final vote and have continued to gain in popularity.
After a rigorous blind tasting and scoring process, which went on around the world, whisky lovers at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival voted on the overall favourite Speyside malt with gold awards going to four other Speyside single malts.
For the second time Aultmore 21YO impressed the voters as it was chosen as the overall favourite Speyside malt this year, following its success in 2019.
The awards are sponsored by Forsyths of Rothes, manufacturers of most of the post stills in Speyside and beyond. They have become a firm fixture of the festival programme, celebrating both the festival and the prized whiskies the region produces. The awards are highly regarded by the industry as the winners are voted for by whisky lovers themselves.
The first round is a blind nosing and tasting of Speyside's finest malts by selected expert judges. Two whiskies from each of the four categories are shortlisted to go forward for the roving Whisky Awards judging and blind tastings at many UK and international venues throughout the year.
Judging took place across Speyside and at roving tasting events held in Copenhagen, Malmo, Cologne, New Brunswick, Milan, Rome, Ireland, Fife Whisky Festival, Nairn, and Aberdeen over the last six months.
Altogether over 800 votes were cast, and the Gold awards went to:
Under 12YO: Benriach 12YO
13YO – 20YO: The Glenlivet 15YO
21YO & Over: Balvenie 21YO
Non-Age Statement: Tamnavulin Spanish Grenache Cask
The Silver awards went to:
Under 12YO: Benromach 10YO
13YO – 20YO: Aberlour 16YO
21YO & Over: Aultmore 21YO
Non-Age Statement: Aberlour A’bunadh
George McNeil, chairman of The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, said:
“The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards are voted by the real whisky experts, whisky consumers from around the world, who vote for the final winners of Speyside’s best whiskies. My heartfelt congratulations go to all winners and finalists.
Looking ahead to next year, the Festival invited a panel of expert judges to gather at the Station Hotel in Rothes just before the start of the 2022 festival where they faced the daunting challenge of selecting the two finalists in each category for the 2023 competition. Voting was reportedly very close in some categories and the finalists announced during the Opening Dinner of the 2022 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
The finalists are as follows:
12YO & Under
13YO - 20YO
The Glenlivet 18YO
21YO & Over
The Glenlivet 25YO
Glen Moray Chardonnay Cask Finish
Glenfiddich Fire & Cane
Whisky consumers will again have the final vote at events during the 2022 festival and throughout the year. Judging sessions will take place at a range of venues which in the UK and beyond. Details will be announced on the festival’s social channels.