Yesterday, at a secret location in central London, 5 men sat down to discuss the fate of our short list.
Ben Ellefsen- director supremo of Master Of Malt
Ryan Chetiyawardana - Cocktail supremo and top barman at the now legendary 69 Colebrooke Row
Sam Simmons - Global Ambassador for The Balvenie and known to millions simply as Dr Whisky. We certainly had a prescription for him.
plus 2 shabby drunken reprobates.
The format was the same- 10 whiskies, initially nosed and tasted blind, were whittled down to a shortlist of 3, with one overall winner.
And, to use the vernacular of a slightly pubescent teenager "OMG- how hard was that!!"
This year, the standards were exceptional. We argued, mulled, ummed and arrrred, at one point finding that we had spent nearly the best part of an hour exploring the fine differences between a 4yo and a 40yo.
Something had to give- and in the end, we managed to nail our top 3.
So our 2 runners up, or as they are, 'highly commended' bottlings were:
Yamazaki 1984- The panel feeling this whisky was a masterpiece of whisky making, displaying a broad symphony of oriental flavours.
Glenfarclas 40 yo - Big, bold intense flavours, with lots of distillery character.
but this year's overall winner, by a whisker is.....
Berrys' Own Selection - Ledaig 2005 - single cask bottling
Yet again, a young whisky triumphs over age. The panel felt that the whisky exhibited some huge flavours and extraordinary cask choice. Well done to Doug and all over at Berry Brothers & Rudd for continued excellence with their bottlings. If you can lay your hands on a bottle of this- GRAB ONE NOW!!
That's it for another year folks. See you, same time, same place next year!
ps.... as you'll see by the dusty old spitoon...
not a drop was wasted.