Welcome to the first stage in this year’s Scottish Field Whisky Challenge.
Now in its 19th year, the Challenge has established itself as an important barometer for what’s going
on in the Scottish whisky industry.
Even amidst the uncertainties of Brexit, the industry is in rude health.
A truly global drink, the latest figures from the Scotch Whisky Association reveal that whisky is the UK’s biggest drink or food export, accounting for around 20% of overseas sales. Scottish whisky’s importance as a major manufacturing sector is also staggering; the industry supports over 40,000 jobs and adds £5bn in value across the economy.
At 19 years old, The Scottish Field Whisky Challenge has also emerged as an industry leader. One of the reasons for the success of the Challenge has been its unimpeachable credibility. We only appoint the most respected figures in the whisky world to be our judges, and this year is no exception.
For the 2019 Challenge we have a fabulous line-up of 11 judges examining three categories: under £50, £50-£100 and over £100. As well as the kudos of winning such a prestigious award, the top whisky in each category is automatically entered into the Grand Final at the end of the year, when our full panel of judges get together to choose the Scottish Field Whisky of the Year 2019.
Here’s what we had in store for our intrepid judges…
Blind Tasting: What makes this competition so unique and, importantly, so impartial, is the fact that our judges taste the whisky completely blind. With the branding and packaging completely stripped away, only the whisky is left, to be judged solely on its own merits. As with last year, we asked producers to submit new expressions (since 1 January 2018), which could include blends, grains, malts or single casks. Then, at the Scottish Field offices, the 62 bottles were decanted into 10cl sample bottles with only a number for identification. These were then posted to the participating judges for tasting and scoring.
Scoring: The judges were asked to award each of the 62 whiskies a mark out of five. We then took away the lowest and highest scores and used the remaining marks to produce an average score for each of the expressions. We also asked the judges to provide us with detailed tasting notes.
The results: Once all the judges’ scores were in, we separated the whiskies into their relevant categories to find the first-, second- and third-placed whisky. The top whisky in each category will automatically be entered into our Grand Final at the end of the year. We have also listed the top 10 highest scoring whiskies.
Top 10 whiskies from the challenge:
1. Glenfarclas 2008 Distillery Exclusive, Glenfarclas Distillery; 2. Discovery Miltonduff 10YO, Gordon & MacPhail; 3. Speyburn 18YO, Inverhouse Distillers; 4. Aberfeldy Self-Fill Cask #20658, John Dewar & Sons; 5. The Glendronach Revival Aged 15 Years, Brown Forman; 6. Balblair 15YO, Inverhouse Distillers; 7. Glenglassaugh Octaves Batch 2 Classic, Brown Forman; 8. Hipflask Series No9, Eden Mill; 9. Expedition, Ardgowan Distillery; 10. His Excellency Cameronbridge Aged 36 Years, Diageo.
Under £50 winners: 1, Discovery Miltonduff 10YO – Gordon & MacPhail; 2, Hipflask Series No9 – Eden Mill; 3, BenRiach Sherry Wood Aged 12 Years – Brown Forman.
£50-£100 winners: 1, Speyburn 18YO – Inverhouse Distillers; 2, The Glendronach Revival Aged 15 Years – Brown Forman; 3, Balblair 15YO– Inverhouse Distillers.
Over £100 winners: 1, Glenfarclas 2008 Distillery Exclusive – Glenfarclas Distillery; 2, Aberfeldy Self-Fill Cask #20658 – John Dewar & Sons; 3, Expedition – Ardgowan.
Don’t forget, you can be part of our awards by joining our readers’ panel. Click HERE to take part.