Readers Whisky Challenge 2013

Scottish Field readers choose favourite drams

Scottish Field has announced the winners of our Readers’ Whisky Challenge 2019.

A panel of Scottish Field readers sampled 54 whiskies on the judging day – and now we can reveal the winning whiskies.

The results are announced in the November issue of Scottish Field which has just hit shelves and doormats across Scotland.

The winners are –

Gold: Rare Find – Gleann Mor Spirits. Total score 34.36.

Tasting notes from Gillian Ferriday: ‘Bourbon, baked apples and sultanas, smooth and creamy, delicate but strong, lovely long finish.’

Tasting notes from Lucy Allen: ‘Manuka honey, orange rind, hint of chilli, lovely and creamy, fresh orange tang finish.’

Silver: Glenfarclas 2008 Distillery Exclusive – J & G Grant, Glenfarclas Distillery. Total score 33.97.

Tasting notes from Kirsten Webb: ‘Fruitcake and ginger spice that develops into a mouth-watering cream, butter toast.’

Tasting notes from Felix Haslimeier: ‘Heavy-lifting sherry bomb, deep, long finish, a warming winter dram.’

Bronze: Aberfeldy 20 Year Old ‘Exceptional Cask’ – Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery. Total score 32.98.

Tasting notes from Jim Gillies: ‘Sherry, rosehip, caramel, complex, very well balanced. Must buy this!’

Tasting notes from Mathew Thorburn: ‘Sherry, sweet cherries, blood orange, watermelon, salty spicy.’

The Readers’ Whisky Challenge event took place at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Leith, Edinburgh, on Monday 5 August.

The top three whiskies chosen by our panel of Scottish Field readers also went through to the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Grand Final where they were sampled by another panel of judges, this time our expert industry judges, at the Grand Final on 20 September.

The results of the Grand Final will be announced at our Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Awards Lunch on board the Fingal on 25 October.

Whisky columnist and founder of World Whisky Day, Blair Bowman, and Annabel Meikle, director of the Keepers of the Quaich, were at the event to give tasting advice to our panel of 10 readers.

The Scottish Field Readers’ Whisky Challenge has launched whisky careers in the past.

‘I was in the Readers Challenge years ago, it launched my whisky career,’ said Blair Bowman during the event.

‘This is the most authentic whisky competition there is because it’s completely blind. I’ve been very impressed by the calibre of everyone selected. They’ve taken on the challenge brilliantly and done exceptionally well with compiling their scores and tasting notes.’

We open the competition to all the whisky distilleries in Scotland, inviting them to send in any new expressions or old favourites to take part in the Challenge.

Then we find ten Scottish Field readers who know their drams to form an incomparable panel of whisky knowledge.
We decant the bottles into sample bottles with only a number.

On the day of the Challenge, our ten readers assemble at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Leith for a day of blind tasting. This year’s Challenge included bottles that retail for between £15 and £550. But without the ceremony of opening the fancy box, there was no telling which was which.

The first round is a knock-out round and our panel whittled the list of 54 whiskies down to 25. The top 25 were taken forward for the scoring round in the afternoon. Each whisky was tasted for nose, palate and finish and given a decimal score out of 5.

We then took away the highest and lowest scores and used the remaining marks to produce an overall score for each expression.

If you would like to be on the Scottish Field Readers’ Panel in 2020, email