of the Year
Deciding TWE's 2014-15 Whisky of the Year award was even more difficult than last year. With so many great drams available, picking our favourite was hard.
We compiled our list of drams by asking people throughout The Whisky Exchange what their top whiskies were. We spoke to everyone, from the folks in our shop to our online sales team, designers and website developers, as well as drinks writers and industry experts, to get as wide a range of contenders as possible.
Whisky has been getting more expensive over the past year, so we changed our criteria a little. This time, the whiskies were all:
less than £60 | ongoing releases | non cask strength
We narrowed the field down to a shortlist of just eight whiskies, covering a range of styles, and presented them to 70 of our customers at a blind tasting. After the votes were counted the winner was clear...
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
70cl / 46%
A rich and intensely flavoured whisky, showcasing the heavily sherried style that Glendronach is well known for. The keystone of the distillery's revival in 2009, it laid the foundation of Glendronach's current rise, with their sherry-matured drams now spoken of with same reverence as the other Speyside heavyweights. A must-try for all whisky lovers, particularly sherried-whisky fans, and a worthy winner of this year's award.
Founded in 1826 by James Allardes, later known as Allardice, Glendronach has had a chequered past. A decade after its founding, the distillery burnt down and sat silent until the 1850s. It then changed hands a number of times, including 40 years of ownership by Charles Grant, one of the sons of William Grant, the founder of Glenfiddich. In 1960, the distillery was bought by Teacher's, who in turn became part of Allied Brewers and then Chivas Brothers. The distillery was closed between 1996 and 2002, but was modernised in 2005, introducing steam heating of the stills rather than direct firing with coal.
The modern era of Glendronach starts in 2008, when The Benriach Distillery company bought the distillery, and created the whisky we know today. They relaunched the entire Glendronach line-up, and focused on the style the whisky was most well-known for – heavily sherried drams. They invested heavily in high-quality sherry casks and have since won numerous accolades for both the reborn range and their highly regarded single-cask releases.
Appearance: Deep gold with a lovely mahogany heart.
Nose: Incredible concentration of aromas. Treacle toffee and chocolate orange.
Palate: A very dynamic and full-bodied dram for its age. Chewy with coffee chocolate and treacle scones.
Conclusions: A veritable feast to enliven the senses.
Notes by Billy Abbott:
Nose: Crunchie bars, stewed raisins and leather, along with treacle tart, flamed orange zest and hints of liquorice.
Palate: A little lighter than the nose suggests, but still big and rich: fruit cake, dark chocolate and woody spice, balanced by sweet vanilla and baked apple.
Finish: Long and dark, with sweet fruit slowly turning into rich woody spice.
Bowmore 12 Year Old
Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
70cl / 40%
A more gentle introduction to smoky whisky than with many Islay malts, Bowmore 12 is an elegant and refined dram that exemplifies the modern character of the distillery. With fruit and maritime notes built around a core of sweet smoke, this is a benchmark for peated whisky. It's also a welcome return to the classic Bowmore style of the 1960s and '70s, with delicious tropical fruit and smoke. Our voters agreed.£29.95