Speyside distillery Benromach has claimed the top spot in the annual Whisky of the Year blind tasting by specialist spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange.
The 15 year old expression – a lusciously rich Speyside single malt, with a soft smokiness and distinctive golden amber colour thanks to maturation in first-fill former sherry and bourbon casks – took the honour.
The Whisky of the Year tasting is the only official global blind whisky tasting undertaken by members of the public and, for the first time this year, the six shortlisted whiskies were nominated by global customers of The Whisky Exchange, with more than 1,200 putting forward their favourites.
The judging of the most popular six was opened up to the world via the Whisky of the Year blind tasting set and online voting, in addition to a blind-tasting event in London on 18 November. With just over 300 votes cast, it was a tightly-fought battle.
All the shortlisted whiskies are under £65 retail price, bottled at standard strengths, and are all ongoing, commercially available releases.
In addition to the winning Benromach 15 Years Old, the final shortlist included:
· Kavalan Classic Single Malt (Runner-up)
· Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask
· Glenallachie 12 Year Old
· Lagavulin 16 Year Old
· Port Askaig 8 Year Old
Keith Cruickshank, distillery manager at Benromach Distillery, said: ‘Benromach 15 Years Old being named Whisky of the Year is an incredibly proud moment for the whole team at the distillery.
‘Like all our whiskies, Benromach 15 Years Old is handcrafted using the finest natural ingredients and is a distinctive Speyside whisky with a subtle smoky character.
‘The longer maturation softens its smokiness to hints of charred smoke while developing the wood imbued character of succulent honey, vanilla and fruit.’
Sukhinder Singh, co-founder and owner of The Whisky Exchange, said: ‘The idea behind our Whisky of the Year initiative is making excellent affordable whiskies known to whisky-lovers around the world, and if you don’t know Benromach 15 yet, then you really need to.
‘This is an exceptionally well-balanced and pleasing dram, with something for everyone – peat smoke, rich fruit, chocolate, herbs and spices. Entirely understandable that whisky-lovers from around the world nominated this classic Speyside single malt for the shortlist and a worthy winner of the title.’
Benromach 15 Year Old is available at thewhiskyexchange.com priced £48.95 (on promotion, full price £52.95).