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The Global Spirits Masters Announced The World’s Best Scotch Whiskies

The Global Spirits Masters (GSM) competition recently announced the top blended and single malt Scotch whiskies in the world. Fourteen Scotch whiskies won the coveted Master award. An additional 76 whiskies won gold medals. Compelling proof that the quality of Scotch whisky today is at an all-time high.

The GSM is an international competition that rates spirits across each major beverage category. Judging is divided into 21 separate competitions to ensure each category is rated by specialist judges who are considered experts in that spirit. Judges are drawn from among journalists, retail buyers, bartenders and educators. The competition awards gold and silver medals – with the top spirits being designated as Master. The top spirit in each category is designated as Taste Master.

This year 16 independent, international whisky specialists from across the industry evaluated approximately 150 Scotch whiskies. The top whiskies were drawn from all five of Scotland’s whisky-producing regions. They represented a mix of historic, well-known brands, newly commissioned distilleries and more obscure producers.

The top tile of Taste Master was awarded to Douglas Laing: Old Particular Dailuaine 18 YO, a single cask single malt Scotch whisky from Speyside. The expression is part of the Old Particular Midnight Series.

Not surprisingly, single cask whisky expressions were the standouts, winning the majority of the Master medals awarded in this year’s competition. Single cask whisk(e)y expressions are increasingly becoming the dominant medalists in spirit competitions around the world. A phenomenon that reflects both consumer interest in rare, collectible whiskies, as well as the premiumization of whisky expressions by producers. It’s also a reflection of the exceptionally high quality found in the worldwide whisky industry today.

The biggest winner of Master medals was the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. They took five Master medals.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) is a private membership club that purchases individual casks from over 170 different distilleries, which it then bottles and retails directly to its members. The Society’s bottlings do not officially identify the distillery on the label but instead list a numeric code.

The integral digits (the numbers to the left of the decimal point) in the code designate the distillery, while the fractional digits (the numbers to the right of the decimal point) indicate the bottling. A little internet sleuthing is usually sufficient to identify what codes correspond to each distillery.

The top winners from the SMWS were the Single Cask Campbeltown Single Malt ‘93.133 – Apocalypse Cow’ (Glen Scotia); the Single Cask Speyside Single Malt ‘63.63 – Funky old bodega’ (Glentauchers); the Single Cask Islay Single Malt ‘53.324 – Lighthouse to Smokehouse’ (Caol Ila); the Single Cask Highlands & Islands Single Malt ‘112.55 – The devil in pink silky pajamas’ (Loch Lomond, Inchmurrin) and the Cask Strength Highlands & Islands Single Malt ‘94.10 – The gentle sparkling beast from the east’ (Old Fettercairn).

The Glasgow Distillery Company takes its name from one of Glasgow’s historic distilleries. The contemporary distillery, however, was founded in 2014. It represented the first new distillery within the Glasgow city limits in more than a century.

The distillery won two Master awards for their: Glasgow Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Sauternes Cask Finish and Glasgow 1770 Single Malt Scotch Whisky – Triple Distilled. Also winning Master medals were The Glenturret, 10 YO Peat Smoked 2021 Release and Aerstone Land Cask from William Grant & Sons.

One of Scotland’s newest distilleries, the Ardgowan Distillery Company, won a Master award for its Clydebuilt Shipwright. This expression is a blended malt that retails for less than $100. Ardgowan commenced operations in 2020. It’s located in Inverclyde just west of Glasgow.

Also winning a Master award was MacDuff International, Lauder’s 15 YO, Blended Scotch Whisky. MacDuff is an independent, Glasgow-based bottler that was f0unded in 1992. It’s best known for its Islay Mist, a blended whisky consisting of a mix of Laphroaig with Speyside malts and grain whisky that dates back to the 1920s.

Last but certainly not least was Kilchoman Distillery, Kilchoman Sanaig, which also won a Master award. Sanaig is a peated Islay whisky that is matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and Oloroso Sherry casks.

Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business and chair of The Global Spirits Masters competition noted:

What I love about this year’s medal-winning entries is that they give consumers room to experiment and try something new, without asking them to pay a fortune. There are some fantastic Scotch whiskies in this year’s results to suit a range of flavor preferences and price points. I’d gladly recommend any expression listed here.

This year’s GSM Scotch whisky judging highlighted a range of superlative Scotch whiskies. Don’t limit your exploration to just the Master award winners. There are plenty of outstanding whiskies worth trying among the gold medalists too! See the GSM website for a complete listing of all the top medalists from the 2022 competition.


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