The 2014 Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Awards Lunch on the 31st October has sparked celebration for two west-coast businesses.
The Ardshiel Hotel and the Isle of Arran Distillers both enjoyed great success, winning Whisky Bar of the Year and Distillery Visitor Experience of the Year respectively.
This is the second consecutive year in which the Campbeltown hotel has secured the Whisky Bar of the Year award, fending off competition from second and third place runners up, the Dornoch Castle Hotel in Sutherland and the Curly Coo Bar in Stirling.
This year’s awards, held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh, was the culmination of another 12 months of Scottish Field’s enduring commitment to the whisky industry.
The tricky task of narrowing down Scotland’s plentiful selection of whisky bars took a different approach to last year, when shortlisted bars were nominated by Scottish Field’s panel of merchant judges. This year, bars across Scotland were instead invited to nominate themselves for the award through submission of an entry form and photographs.
The newly-relaunched Whisky Bar of the Year award was joined by a new prize for 2014, the Distillery Visitor Experience of the Year award, open to all whisky distilleries across Scotland that provide visitor services.
All entries for both awards were shortlisted into a ‘Top 10’ for each category by Scottish Field’s whisky writer, and founder of World Whisky Day, Blair Bowman. Each of the ‘Top 10’ then went forward to a ten-week public voting round, which ultimately decided the winners.
Over 3,500 votes were cast throughout the awards process.
Flora Grant and Marion MacKinnon were in attendance at the Sheraton Grand on Friday to collect the award on behalf of the Ardshiel Hotel, whilst Isle of Arran Distillers was represented by Visitor Centre Manager Faye Waterlow, Managing Director Euan Mitchell and Restaurant Supervisor Kate Hartley.
Each winner was presented with their award and certificate, with Scottish Field staff and the judging panel presenting the trophies.
Speaking of their delight at setting the bar high for the first ever Scottish Field Distillery Visitor Experience award, Isle of Arran Distillers said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the category of Distillery Visitor Experience at the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Awards last week and our team is very proud to be the owners of our beautiful new trophy. We will display it with pride in our Visitor Centre.”
The Readers Challenge – held in July at the Scotch Whisky Experience – was celebrated also, with the overall winning bottle – the Aberlour A’Bunadh – presented to Peter Prentice of Chivas Brothers, by Chris Fife, the youngest member of the 2014 Readers Panel.
Culmination of the afternoon’s awards was the Scottish Field Whisky of the Year – an appropriately Hallowe’en-themed bottle, the Cutty Sark Tam O’Shanter 25yo edition.
Award categories are split into pricing sections, with additional awards for the best blended whisky, the best distillery bottling, the best independent bottling, and of course, the prized ‘Scottish Field Whisky of the Year’.
The full list of winners…
‘Under £40’ category
Gold – Aberlour A’Bunadh
Silver – Benromach 10yo
Bronze – The Ileach (The Vintage Malt Whisky Co.)
Gold – Glenmorangie Companta
Silver – Glendronach 18yo
Bronze – Deanston 1994 (Whiskies of Scotland bottling)
‘Over £80’ category
Gold – Cutty Sark 25yo Tam O’Shanter edition
Silver – Glengoyne 25yo
Bronze – Woodwinters The Five
Top Distillery Bottling – Glengoyne 25yo
Top Independent Bottling – Woodwinters The Five
Top Summer Challenge Bottling – Glen Grant Five Decades
Top Readers Challenge Bottling – Aberlour A’Bunadh
Top Blend and Scottish Field Whisky of the Year – Cutty Sark 25yo Tam O’Shanter edition
Distillery Visitor Experience of the Year – Isle of Arran Distillers
Whisky Bar of the Year – The Ardshiel Hotel