Some of Scotland’s finest drams of 2019 have been revealed after a vigorous blind tasting and scoring process that went all over the world – but was finally settled by whisky lovers visiting the 20th Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival.
As the closing notes were sounded at Speyside’s biggest whisky festival to date, the top tipples produced in the region that boasts more than half of the nation’s malt whisky distilleries were announced.
In the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival’s annual awards, Benromach Whisky 10 took top honours in the 12 year old and under category, followed by Cardhu 12.
In the award’s 13 to 20 year old category, Glen Grant 15 lifted the top title with Benromach 15 runner up.
21 years and over saw The Glenlivet Archive 21 year old reign supreme, pipping Aultmore 21 into second place. Tamdhu Dalbeallie was the best Non-Aged Statement, with Glen Moray Distillery Classic Cabernet Finish runner-up.
In a close contest, Aultmore 21 came out on top as the favourite spirit overall, just beating The Glenlivet Archive 21 year old into second place.
The awards are sponsored by Forsyths of Rothes and 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.
Judging took place across Speyside and at roving tasting events held in Canada, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Italy and Ireland, as well as in Glasgow, Belfast and London. The final votes took place in Speyside and results were announced at the closing ceilidh held at Glen Moray Distillery on Sunday (May 5).
Festival chairman James Campbell said: “Congratulations go to all the brands who have won at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards 2019. The Scotch whisky sector can be justifiably proud of the unique flavoured whiskies produced in our region, and these awards are a hallmark of our reputation as a global centre in the production of some of the finest whiskies in the world.
“These are exceptional whiskies that have been enjoyed by our tasting panels at a host of international locations and by those attending the festival this year.
“What makes our awards special is that the winners are voted for by the whisky-drinking public, and not by a panel. In all, 907 people voted in 21 locations where tasting and voting events took place so we really do have a ‘people’s choice’.
“It means that distillers consider it a real honour to win one because it is consumers who actually go out and buy a bottle or order it in a bar who are endorsing their product.”
Meanwhile, If Glen Moray Did World Cups won the Best New Event of #dram19.
The inaugural Glen Moray Bottle Your Own World Cup Final was hosted by Master Distiller Graham Coull to choose a favourite from a selection of eight whiskies and steer it through to the finals. After a pie and a pint, it was repeated with another eight whiskies for the for the Bottle Your Own Peated World Cup. Glen Moray’s take on the World Cup beat off competition from five other first-time events.
New box office records were set when tickets went on sale for the 2019 festival, with 173 events completely selling out within 24 hours of being released to the public. Huge numbers of tickets were snapped up by whisky lovers around the globe – Europe and the USA being among the top locations – with many more being bought by customers in the UK.
With 710 events on offer, whisky fans from all over the world had more opportunities than ever before to sample the region’s finest whiskies and discover the passion behind them through tours and tastings, live music events, talks and heritage walks, fine dining and food pairings and auctions and more.
The diverse offering suited to both whisky connoisseurs and first-time visitors, regardless of their knowledge of Scotland’s national spirit.
Mr Campbell added: “We’ve had another fantastic festival when new experiences have been enjoyed, friendships have been made, and knowledge and insight into the centuries-old whisky traditions have been shared.
“There has been an exceptional range of opportunities for our visitor to enjoy stories, the great outdoors, and of course food and drink in the magnificent setting Speyside, home to more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries.”
The 2020 festival will take place from April 29 - May 4 and for more information, go to www.spiritofspeyside.com or visit social media at facebook.com/WhiskyFestival and @spirit_speyside on Twitter and Instagram, hashtag #dram19.
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
Pictured (left to right) – Scott Lamb, Greig Stables, Teresa Chalmers, Sandy McIntyre and Susan Colville represent the five winning whiskies in the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Whisky Awards