Big whiskies battle it out at Best of the Best 2019...

The whiskies...

  • Glenfarclas Family Casks 2002 Cask #3773 57.8%
  • Amrut Portonova Single Malt 62.1% 
  • Tamdhu Batch Strength (Batch #3) 59% (mystery whisky on the night)
  • Ardnamurchan Malt Spirit 2018 Ad 55.3% 
  • Glendronach 27yo 1990 #7902 52.1%
  • Benromach 2010 Peat Smoke Sherry Cask Matured 59.9%
  • Benriach 2005 12yo Cask#2565 Batch 14 58.8% 

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It was a pugilistic battle until the bitter sweet end. Seven heavyweight whiskies going toe to toe until only one was left standing. Unrelenting blow after blow of port, PX and sherry leaving us dazed confused, heady and happy. 

Was there too much sherry? Yes of course there was, but this was a lineup that was just sooooo tantalising - a coming together of like minded big whiskies, that were ready to flex their muscles and certainly weren’t going to pull any punches. 

The first whisky set the tone nicely - stepping into the ring and immediately rippling its layers of muscular stewed fruits that were stretched taut over a frame of big tannins. This was the Glenfarclas Family Casks 2002 and looked to be in super shape - fit and ready for anything… 

Or so it seemed, until the gargantuan Amrut Portonova appeared from its corner and proceeded to grab the Glenfarclas in a head grip and then body slam it to the floor. This was a crazed WWF wrestler (rumoured to have been drinking port in the changing rooms) taking on a classically trained boxer and winning. As the Glenfarclas was dragged off for a wet toweling and some resuscitation, the Tamdhu Batch Strength stepped into the fray whilst the Ardnamurchan 2018 AD could be seen warming up on the sidelines. With aromas of leather, cedar and graphite this seemed a serious contender, but a few rounds later the Amrut was still standing - its bourbon braun and dark chocolate upper cuts proving too much for the Tamdhu - a bantamweight in the wrong class whose banana lollies and salted caramels had proved impotent.

High hopes were riding on the Ardnamurchan -  a young and feisty whisky barely old enough to be in the ring, but with a proven track record of defeating giants.  However, this whisky too was effortlessly and surprisingly brushed aside and left applying iodine and bandages to its bruised pride.

It was clear it would take something special to beat the bourbon brut from India - something with more than just power and strength.

Enter the 27yo Glendronach - the old timer who had been on the circuit a few years. This whisky wasn’t quite as taut and muscular, a touch flabby one might even say, but had swapped alcoholic braun for sophisticated complexity and things were about to change. The Glendronach danced effortlessly about the Amrut with grace and agility unexpected in one so old - landing PX puncheon punches at every opportunity until finally the Amrut was down. Now only two whiskies stood in the Glendronach’s way

The Benromach was a below the belt bar brawler if ever there was - reeking of stale cigarettes and old beer mats. For a moment, the Glendronach was on the ropes and a serious upset looked possible but as as the Glendronach absorbed the Bernomach’s peaty stomach jabs and cheeky kidney punches, soon the Benromach tired and was finally defeated.

The Benriach failed to show up and was last seen cowering in the dressing room.

And so we have a new heavyweight champion of Wellington - the 27 yo Glendronach batch 16 #7902 - an almost unanimous verdict from the 100 Judges who also fought hard to keep focus and hold their nerve faced with such a tricky contest. Well done all and see you next year!

 Here are the scores for those who are interested...

  • Glendronach 27yo 1990 #7902 52.1% - 9.59
  • Benromach 2010 Peat Smoke Sherry Cask Matured 59.9% - 9.02
  • Amrut Portonova Single Malt 62.1% - 9.00
  • Glenfarclas Family Casks 2002 Cask #3773 57.8% - 8.81 (available in store to purchase - $299.99)
  • Tamdhu Batch Strength (Batch #3) 59%- 8.71
  • Ardnamurchan Malt Spirit 2018 Ad 55.3% - 8.58
  • Benriach 2005 12yo Cask#2565 Batch 14 58.8% - 8.29

And here's some photos of the night...