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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

WHAT IS THE #1 SCOTCH TODAY?

It was eight years ago that Nikka's Yoichi 20-year-old won the World's Best Single Malt competition at the 2008 World Whiskies Awards.  This was the first time a foreign entrant was selected #1 and is the scotch equivalent to the 1976 Judgement of Paris, when a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay (six years ago a bottle was sold for $11,325, but a 2013 can be had for $40) from Napa Valley bottle-shocked the French.  Off the media radar, another California Chardonnay from Chalone Vineyard located south of San Francisco, came in #3 that year.  In 2008 a French company from Bordeaux tried to purchase Chateau Montelena, but the transaction failed.

The World's Best Single Malt this year was actually from Scotland:  a 27-year-old Old Pulteney (hard to find, but a 30-year-old can be found for $430, while a 12-year-old sells for $40).  A 21-year-old Hibiki from Suntory took the World's Best Blended Whisky title.  More of the world's best for 2016:
  • Single Cask Single Malt:  Kavalan Solist Amontillado Sherry ($120)
  • Single Pot Still:  Green Spot Chateau Leoville Barton (Ireland$60)
  • Bourbon Whiskey:  Abraham Bowman (Virginia$86)
  • Corn Whiskey:  Balcones True Blue 100 (100 proof, from Texas, $90)
  • Flavored Whiskey:  Knob Creek Smoked Maple Whiskey (Kentucky, $30)
  • Rye Whiskey:  Pikesville (Kentucky, 110 proof, $38)
  • Design Award:  Puni Alba Italian Malt Whisky (also known as whiskey, First Year sold, $60-$170)


You'd never guess which country was #1 in 2015.  TAIWAN, with their Kavalan Solist Voinho Barrique Single Cask Single Malt Whisky ($274).  Or what about 2014?  AUSTRALIA's (Tasmania) 12-year-old Sullivan Cove French Oak Cask Single Malt Whisky ($187, but can't be found).  2013?  Back to Scotland, with their 1999 Ardberg Galileo ($254).


Just as wines are made just about everywhere (can you believe every state in the Union has at least two wineries--California has 2025), whiskies, and something close to "scotch," are now distilled the world over:
  • Switzerland has 20 distilleries.
  • Arctic Whiskey is produced in Norway, which has nine distilleries.
  • India consumes about as much whiskey as the rest of the world.  However, 90% of "whisky" produced in the country derives from molasses, and the quality ranges from rum to "true" single malt (right).

While Johnny Walker is the best-selling scotch brand in Scotland, Officer's Choice from India is now not only the best selling "scotch," last year OC overtook Smirnoff Vodka to become the world's largest selling spirit brand.  OC is made from grain, unlike most India whiskies.  The company began operations out of Delhi in 1988.  Officer's Choice Blue sells for $16 to $18/bottle.  Couldn't find the cost of the Black nor Rare.  There is one list that shows Jack Daniels is the largest selling whiskey with 11 million cases in 2013.  OC will this year sell three times more.

Read an article from the New York Times on a taste test of 20 single malts, none from Scotland.  It also provides the following information:

  • Scotch can  only come from Scotland.
  • Single malts can come from anywhere on Planet Earth.
  • There are also blended single malts like Johnny Walker.
Interesting that the ★★½ Kavalan Classic Single Malt Whisky Taiwan 43 percent  only has 2.5 stars, but that this was the BEST whisky last year.

So what is the #1 scotch in 2016?  By volume sales, Officer's Choice Blue Label from India.  By World Whiskies Awards annual selection, Old Pulteney from Scotland.

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