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Scottish Icons of Whisky 2012

Johnnie Walker owner Diageo has been voted the best Scottish distiller in this year’s Scottish Icons of Whisky, held by Whisky Magazine. The firm, which owns some of the most iconic distilleries in the world , faced stiff competition from a shortlist of Scottish distillers.

To celebrate the people and places behind the greatest whiskies in the world, this year’s judging process will include regional heats in the U.S., Rest of World and Scotland.

Other big winners in the Scottish Icons included: Whisky Ambassador Colin Dunn (Diageo), Young Whisky Ambassador Susan Colville (Wemyss Vintage Malts) and Whyte and Mackay for its work replicating Shackleton’s whisky.

The icons were announced at an awards ceremony at Oran Mr, Glasgow, on Friday, September 2nd, held to mark the opening of Whisky Live Glasgow.

Full results were:



Highly commended: Kilchoman Distillery


Aberlour Distillery

Highly commended: Glen Grant Distillery


The Whisky Shop Dufftown

Highly commended: Gordon and MacPhail


Luvian’s Bottle Shop, Fife

Highly commended: Royal Mile Whiskies


Loch Fyne Whiskies

Highly commended:


Whyte and Mackay

Highly commended: The Glenmorangie Company


Colin Dunn, Diageo

Highly commended: George Grant, Glenfarclas Distillery


Susan Colville, Wemyss Vintage Malts

Highly commended: Karen Fullerton, The Glenmorangie Company

Visit for full results


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Bushmills finalists

Colum Egan, Master Distiller at the Old Bushmills Distillery, has today announced the eleven pairs of friends who will represent their countries at ‘Bushcamp’, the global final of ‘Make it 2 Bushmills’, a competition hosted by Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

The eleven pairs will be taking part in the final, dubbed the ‘Whiskey World Games’, on Ireland’s north coast this August. The competition offers two friends the chance to win two weeks working at the world-famous Old Bushmills Distillery, where they will make their own unique blend of BushmillsIrish Whiskey, live in luxury penthouse accommodation and get £5,000 spending money. Then, the winning friends will get VIP access to the ultimate Bushmills party back in their home country.

The Bushcamp finalists are:
• Representing Belgium – Johan Lolos, a Student (23) and Mathias Gilles, a Student (24)
• Representing Bulgaria – Marin Aganderov, a Student (22) and Kiril Todorov, a Student (22)
• Representing Czech Republic – Ondřej Šimeček, a Hospitality Product Manager (27) and Jiří Tlach, an Insurance Officer (28)
• Representing Germany – Patrick Seidel, a Bartender (27) and Andreas Andricopoulos, a Bartender (27)
• Representing Great Britain – Keeley Sutcliffe, a Junior and Infant School Midday Supervisor (34) and Tom Lawrence, a Telesales Manager (39)
• Representing the Netherlands – Richard Beatty, an IT Consultant (36) and Michael Weijzig, a Social Worker (36)
• Representing Northern Ireland – Richard Roberts, a Customer Service Assistant (59) and Carol Roberts, a Home Care Worker (55)
• Representing the Republic of Ireland – Peter Majernik, a Hotel Concierge (32) and Vladimir Majernik, a Hotel Porter (31)
• Representing Russia – Nikolay Fedoseev, a Graphic Designer (28) and Ilya Rybalsky, a Chemical Engineer (26)
• Representing South Africa – Sean Tickner, a Orthotist and Prosthetist (30) and Jonathan Oliff, a Brand Strategist and Marketing Consultant (27)
• Representing the United States of America – Curt Neeb, an Inventory Specialist (40) and Paul Kowalski, a Graphic Design Business Owner (49)

The duos were selected to represent their countries by public vote on Facebook and will compete against each other in a number of challenges to find the ultimate winners of Make it 2 Bushmills. Some of the challenges they can expect to face include barrel-rolling, coopering and beach golf.

The final will be judged by the BUSHMILLS Master Distiller Colum Egan and some famous fans of BUSHMILLS, including Kevin Baird of Two Door Cinema Club, Jonathan Galkin of DFA Records and Rob Allanson of Whisky Magazine.

Colum said: “Bushcamp is going to be the World Games of Whiskey, played out in true Bushmills style. Kevin, Jonathan, Rob and I will be challenging the finalists to try out some of the things that the team at the Old Bushmills Distillery do on a daily basis as well as some of the things that we like to do in our spare time…all with a Bushmills twist.

“But of course, being the Old Bushmills Distillery, we’ll not be forgetting the whiskey itself. A couple of the challenges will test how passionate the friends are about BUSHMILLS Irish Whiskey. All will be revealed when we welcome them here in August!”

Bushcamp will take place from 16th – 18th August at the Old Bushmills Distillery, in Bushmills village and the surrounding area, with the winning pair of friends being announced on the evening of the 17th.

Visit to follow the finalists’ progress and for more information on Make it 2 Bushmills.


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Challenging Ben

The Bowmore Ben Nevis Challenge training day is drawing very near, in fact I will be heading North on Friday to Glasgow, before carrying on to Aberfoyle on Saturday morning. The chance to get back out and tackle such an iconic peak, and for such an excellent cause prompted a few thoughts. As things begin to defrost here after what has been a long and very cold winter my thoughts are starting to turn to the summer, and getting back into the great outdoors.
One highlight on my calendar, something I am greatly honoured to have been asked to be a part of, is the Bowmore Ben Nevis Challenge.
The event, supporting Capability Scotland, Scotland’s best known disability organisation, will see teams of disabled and non-disabled people work together to take on the challenge of scaling the UK’s highest peak.
And what a summit Ben Nevis offers. People have been taking on the Ben for generations now, and although it has a relatively ‘easy’ track to the top, this lump needs to be treated with great respect. People still die on this hill. However the teams and myself with be in excellent hands. The challenge will be guided by ex-SAS officer and TV Presenter Ken Hames.
All we can ask is that the Ben is kind to us and the weather is clement. I have to say I am so looking forward to the challenge. It has been a while since I have been released into the wild in Scotland. Living in God’s country, Norfolk in case you were not aware, I do miss the hills.
As a Northern boy, I grew up with my sky being framed by these silent giants, one of my favourite lies not to far from my family home, a little lump called Knowl Hill in Lancashire. The romance of wandering about on the moors, the pull of ancient places occupied my thoughts quite often. It was no different when I lived in Scotland looking across the Clyde to the rising Kilpatrick Hills. That yearn to escape and just be part of the landscape never leaves you. The tingling nervous feeling of standing looking up to a shrouded peak is second to none; a sense of our own place in the world.
There is nothing quite like clearing the head than a decent walk through some wonderful countryside and of course ending on, at that moment in time and as far as you are concerned, the roof of the world.
Part of the appeal of being out on the hills in Scotland lies in the changes in the light and the interaction with the landscape. Few things in life can really rival stepping out on a wakening day, making your own tracks, heading into hills and coming back at dusk to a welcoming dram by a roaring log fire.

I will post some details after the training weekend about donating to the cause, or you can visit here: Remember to give generously please….

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Japan bar scene update

This is an update on the bar situation in Japan from Chie Hasiguchi who is Whisky Mag Japan’s bar editor as well as translator for most of the whisky people who attend events in Japan.

The Ginza bars are so dark now, it is strange, not to see the  signs lit up as everyone is trying to save electricity.

There was a earthquake at Bar Four seasons 2 nights ago, scary. Customers come to check the bars to make sure they are OK and try to use money so that business will be kept going. I have talked with Ito-san who is at Land bar in Ginza which is Kishi-san’s (star bar)’s new bar. He is from Sendai. His report is that it will be difficult for bar owners to open the bar in impacted areas such as Ishinomaki. There was one bar called Iruka, the owner was alive but entire town was gone around that area. The customers were fishermen and local people so unless fishery industry and Sushi restaurants are back, bars can not come back. Ito-san’s major concern was job for those bartenders and bar owners and is hoping that if there is anyone who can offer jobs in Tokyo or Osaka for those who have suffered.

The NBA [Nippon Bartender’s Assoc] has already taken some action that they have put safety information (who is OK or missing) in the impacted areas on their web site and have started donation activity. They uploaded LOGO of donation with NBA name on it and anyone can down load it and put it onto the bottle or cans. Ginza has already initiated donation although it take some time to get approval from necessary position in NBA.

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Updates from Japanese distilleries: 16th March, 2011.

Suntory: (15.3.2011)

Yamazaki Distillery

Hakushu Distillery

Awaiting response from PR department.


Nikka: (15.3.2011)

Due to ongoing transport problems and power cuts, Nikka have not yet been able to carry out a comprehensive assessment at the Miyagikyo Distillery. Initial reports suggest that there has been no major damage however and they have confirmed that distillery staff and their families are unharmed.

The Yoichi Distillery has been unaffected.


Venture Whisky: (15.3.2011)

Ichiro Akuto says

“The Chichibu Distillery staff and their families are all okay. There has been no damage at the distillery to either cask stocks or distilling equipment and just some minor damage to bottled stock. We appreciate the concern from overseas.”


Mercian: (16.3.2011)

Karuizawa Distillery

The Karuizawa Distillery was not damaged by the earthquake and the site has been operating (not distilling) since March 14th.


Kirin: (15.3.2011)

Fuji-Gotemba Distillery

Awaiting response from PR department.


Hombo Shuzo (16.3.2011)

Mars Distillery.

There have been many aftershocks in the Nagano area but so far the distillery, located in the Shinshu area, and the staff and their families, are all okay. After a break of 20 years, they are planning to produce whisky continuously from March 15th through to April 20th. They are grateful for everybody’s concern and interest.


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Ben Nevis Challenge

Very pleased to say that I will be joining one of the teams for this ascent……

Bowmore, the first Islay Single Malt whisky, is delighted to announce its sponsorship of the 2011 Bowmore Ben Nevis Challenge. The event, supporting Capability Scotland, Scotland’s best known disability organisation, will see teams of disabled and non-disabled people work together to take on the challenge of scaling the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, on Saturday 4th June.

Following the success of the original Challenge in 2008 which saw Britain’s first wheelchair-led ascent of Ben Nevis, this year’s event will give even more people the opportunity to take on this tremendous challenge.
Guided by ex-SAS officer and TV Presenter Ken Hames, the twelve teams of six will be led by disabled people with a variety of impairments.  The leaders will navigate and direct their team to the summit and in the process help beat 2008’s fundraising total of £100,000.

Cara Laing, Bowmore Brand Manager, added: “Bowmore has always been a champion of nature and the great outdoors so we’re delighted to be working with Capability and Ken Hames to help open it up to everyone. Scaling the mountain will be a challenge to every single member of the teams taking part and, as well as sponsoring the challenge, we are going to be tackling that challenge head on by entering our own team”

The money raised will go to Capability to support them in their work campaigning with and supporting disabled people of all ages in Scotland at home, at work and at school. But this event is not just about raising valuable funds, as Capability’s Director of External Affairs, Richard Hamer explains: “As well as challenging the people participating in the event we want to challenge people’s expectations of what is possible. In Scotland we have some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK and disabled people, just like non-disabled people want the opportunity to explore and enjoy every part of our country, an opportunity which they are not always given.”

The first Ben Nevis challenge in 2008 was the brainchild of Ken Hames, who will once again be leading the event giving his time, energy and expertise to the project. He said: “I am passionate about the great outdoors and about opening it up to everyone who wants to experience the excitement and challenge it offers. The great outdoors has been my life and it inspires me and others to challenge the status quo and to continue to offer support and opportunities while promoting inclusivity in all walks of life. I’m so pleased that Bowmore has offered their support.”

Now I must think about doing some training of some description, not just lifting tasting glasses.

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World Whiskies Awards winners



300 whiskies have battled over three tasting rounds for the coveted titles of the ‘2011 Best Whiskies in the World’, with some surprising results; with Japanese distiller Suntory winning both the ‘World’s Best Single Malt’ and ‘World’s Best Blend’ categories, the first time that a single whisky producer has taken both titles.

Three intensive rounds of blind tastings have taken place by Whisky Magazine’s independent editorial panel drawn from the best journalists and retailers across the world, and also by industry representatives made up of master blenders, distillers and brand ambassadors in the final round. The winners of the ‘2011 World Whiskies Awards’ were announced at a dinner at the Waldorf, Hilton Hotel, in London last night (3rd March 2011) and were as follows:

World’ Best Winner Brand
World’s Best Whisky Liqueur Drambuie The Royal Legacy of 1745
World’s Best Grain Whisky Greenore 15 years old
World’s Best Blended Whisky Hibiki 21 years old
World’s Best North American Whisky Parker’s Heritage Collection 10 years old Wheated Bourbon
World’s Best Single Malt Whisky Yamazaki 1984

The World Whiskies Awards is the annual selection of the very best whiskies internationally. This year entries have been received from; Canada, France, India, Ireland, Japan, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, USA and Wales. Categories are based upon the commonly held whisky groupings which define both the style and the process of whisky and whisky production: single malt, blended, blended malt, grain, American and whisky liqueurs. Organised by *Whisky Magazine, this annual competition selects, awards and promotes to consumers and trade the ‘Best Whiskies in the World’.

The competition is open to **proprietary bottlings only, and is chaired by Dave Broom, contributing editor of Whisky Magazine and editor-in-chief of Whisky Magazine Japan, and exists to inform and educate consumers throughout the world about whisky. Categories are based upon the commonly held whisky groupings which define the style and process of whisky/whiskey production; malt whisky, blended whisky, blended malt whisky, American whiskey and whisky liqueurs.

Chairman of the judges, Dave Broom, commented: “The competition featured some eye-opening whiskies and the judging panel had a hard time separating the good from the very good. My congratulations go to the winners, the judges’ exacting standards mean that the winners are truly the greatest whiskies in the world.”

Ends –

Notes to editors

Category and sub category winners

Best Canadian Blended Whisky

(These all fell into the no age statement category so were tasted against each other)

The shortlist

Caribou Crossing

Canadian 83

Canadian Mist Black Diamond

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve

Proof Proof Whisky

Royal Canadian

Wiser’s Legacy

The Winner:

Wiser’s Legacy

Best Irish Blended

Jameson 18 Years Old Limited Reserve

Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve

Tullamore Dew 12 Years Old Special Reserve

The category winner

Tullamore Dew 12 Years Old Special Reserve

Best Japanese Blended Whisky

The sub category winners were

Hibiki 12 Years Old

Hibiki 17 Years Old

Hibiki 21 Years Old

Nikka From The Barrel

The best Japanese blended whisky is:

Hibiki 21 Years Old

Best Rest of the World blended whisky

Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish

Three Ships 5 Years Old

The winner

Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish

Best Scotch blended whisky

The sub category winners are

Black Bull 12 Years Old Deluxe Blend

Cutty Sark 18 Years Old

Hankey Bannister 40 Years Old

The category winner is:

Hankey Bannister 40 Years Old

Best American Whiskey – Bourbon

Subcategory winners are

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Parker’s Heritage Collection 10 Year Old Cask Strength Wheated Bourbon

Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel 2010

The category winner

Parker’s Heritage Collection 10 Year Old Cask Strength Wheated Bourbon

Best American Whisky non bourbon

Entries were:

Bernheim Wheat Whiskey

Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 Proof

Sazerac Straight Rye

Thomas H. Handy Rye

The winner was

Thomas H. Handy Rye

Single malt category winners

Best Campbeltown

The shortlist was

Hazelburn CV

Longrow 14 Years Old

Springbank 12 Years Old

The winner

Springbank 12 Years Old

Best Highland

Balblair 1989 Vintage

Balblair 2000

Glen Garioch Vintage 1978

Glenmorangie Signet

The winner

Glenmorangie Signet

Best Islay

Ardbeg Supernova 2010

Bowmore Tempest

Caol Ila 25 Years Old

Lagavulin 16 Years Old

The winner:

Bowmore Tempest

Best Island non Islay

Highland Park 25 Years Old

Talisker 57 North

Talisker 10 Years Old

The Arran Malt 14 Years Old

The winner

Highland Park 25 Years Old

Best Speyside

Glenfarclas 40 Years Old

Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix

Longmorn 16 Years Old

The Balvenie Signature

The winner was

Glenfarclas 40 Years Old

Best Lowland

Auchentoshan 1998 Sherry Matured

Glenkinchie 12 Years Old

The winner was

Auchentoshan 1998 Sherry Matured

Best Irish Single malt

Bushmills 16 Years Old

Bushmills 21 Years Old

Tyrconnell Port Finish

The Wild Geese Single Malt Irish Whiskey

The winner is

Bushmills 16 Years Old

Best Japanese single malt

Hakushu Bourbon Barrel

Yamazaki 1984

Yoichi 10 Years Old

Yoichi 1990

The winner

Yamazaki 1984

Best Rest of the World single malt

Glen Breton Battle of the Glen

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask Strength

Sullivans Cove Bourbon Maturation

The winner


Best Irish pot still whiskey

Midleton Very Rare

Green Spot

Redbreast 12 Years Old

Redbreast 15 Years Old

The winner was

Redbreast 15 Years Old

*Whisky Magazine

Whisky Magazine is published 8 times a year and is the leading publication in this sector. Every issue brings you articles on the art, science and romance of the ‘water of life’, plus pages of informative tasting notes.

**Proprietary Whiskies – owned by the distiller and brand owner

About the Judges


Dave Broom

Contributing editor, Whisky Magazine UK. Editor of Whisky Magazine Japan. Whisky expert


Rob Allanson

Editor of Whisky Magazine

Charles MacLean

Former Whisky Magazine editor. Whisky expert

Tom Morton

BBC journalist. Whisky writer

Martine Nouet

Former editor of Whisky Magazine France. Whisky chef

Neil Ridley

Whisky Blogger (

Dominic Roskrow

Former editor of Whisky Magazine. Whisky expert

Bernhard Schafer

Writer, expert and judge

Annabelle Meikle

Industry Expert

Ed Bates

Industry Expert

Sukhinder Singh

Owner Whisky Exchange

Tim Forbes

Whisky Exchange, whisky expert

Serge Valentin

Whisky Blogger and self-confessed Malt Maniac


Charles Cowdery

Bourbon expert . Whisky writer

Mark Gillespie

Whisky Podcaster. Whisky expert

LeNell Smothers

Whiskey writer and educator.

Mike Miller,

Bar owner of Delilah’s. Whisky expert

Liza Weisstuch

Whisky Magazine contributor


Davin de Kergommeaux

Malt Maniac. Canadian whisky expert


David Croll

Publisher of Whisky Magazine Japan. Whisky retailer

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Whisky Live London

For those of you looking for information please head to the Whisky Live site….see you all there

Oh and Saturday is sold out.

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More tea sir

You have got to love a nation that prides itself on its love for tea. Japan, China, Britain and of course here in India. Something like a billion people across this great nation start their day with a cuppa. Let’s face it as a visitor, and possibly worried about water quality, tea is a very safe thing to drink.
However it made me think, when you look at the numbers, how did a nation like this hit recession.
There have to be at least seven industries involved in bringing the cuppa to the table, not least the tea growing itself. There are the matches (wood and sulphur); the drinking vessel (china, tin or plastic); the utilities (gas, electric and water); milk; sugar and of course something to boil the water in and stir the final refreshing brew with.
So where does the money go from all this? Can a nation be supported by its love for tea?

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First 24hrs in New Delhi

Personally I don’t think enough people applaud when an international flight lands. This is what happened when KL0871 went wheels down in New Delhi the other night, in fact he got a standing ovation. Is it just the Indian nation that realises that most 747 flight are still landed by hand, and I am hoping not the sweaty, white knuckled variety. But this was my intro to Delhi. CLosely followed by the almost hushed, massive, aircon cooled halls of the airport. Seriously I thought America did it big… no no.

Thankfully most of the next day was spent within the hotel area, although this hotel would give American chains something to worry about. The room here, know as an executive suite, is about the size of the Paragraph office and the hotel lobby alone wound quite happily fit my house and office in it…seriously I have not seen that much marble. Then, as if that was not enough for the Indian marble corporation to cope with, the shopping centre (or mall if you as so persuaded) is almost a mile long and has five levels. Just mental.

Then there is the driving, or ‘aiming’ as our guy out here Sandeep calls it. Honestly it seems that road marking as some what less that suggestions, and I am surprised that the traffic lights are still up so long after Christmas…they are certainly just decorations. I found myself hurtling down this road looking out of the window at the space the driver was heading for thinking that’s about the right size for a motorbike…clearly he thinks the people carrier will fit in it. No wonder people pray as they cross junctions.

Ok so not so much about whisky so far, but let me say that the two bars I have visited as pretty serious. They would give an execellent Scotish whisky bar a run for the money. There is clearly a passion out here for whisky. We are not just talking about the so called first tier whiskies: your Glenfiddich 12s, Chivas 12 and Walker Blacks. There is a hunger to learn more, understand and taste variety.

The next few days should be interesting.

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