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Independent Bottlers Challenge 2006

What are the best independent bottlings? Our tasters tried more than 175 of them to find out. Panel chairman Dominic Roskrow reports.

It’s only in its second year, but the Independent Bottlers’Challenge is becoming a key event in the whisky calendar.

Why? Because the independent sector makes the whisky world go round.It offers the whisky enthusiast the opportunity to regularly stray from a favourite bottle and taste something from the same distillery.

But it can be a hit and miss affair, too,because bad casks find their way to the shelves as well as good ones. So how do you find out what to trust and what to avoid?

By their very nature independent bottlings tend to come in small quantities and when they’re gone, they’re gone.For this reason we have tended to leave them out of competitions and annual tastings on the grounds that by the time you read about them,they’re no longer available.

And that’s where the Independent Bottlers’ Challenge comes in.

We asked all the leading independent bottlers to offer their best whisky up for tasting by June.They were tasted by judging groups until early August.Hopefully that’s a sufficiently short lead in time to ensure that they’re still available to purchase now.

Each company was permitted to enter just one whisky for each category.

Each category was judged by one journalist, one retailer and one whisky club, whose individual scores were aggregated and then averaged out so that each club contributed the same amount to the final score as the other judges.

The whiskies were tasted blind,with each being sent in a small bottle marked only with a category and ABV.

In each category a gold, silver and bronze medal were awarded to the top whiskies. In each section a points system was applied to the top five whiskies in each category and the highest scoring company was awarded the section trophy.

The results show how dynamic the independent sector is.An eclectic mix of companies won medals and there were five different trophy winners across the eight categories. And while the 177 whiskies included some odd and occasionally poor bottlings, judges overall were impressed by the range and quality of the whisky on offer.

BLENDED

IAN MACLEOD DISTILLERS

Highly Commended : Duncan Taylor & Company

12 years old and under
Gold - Milroy’s Blended Scotch Whisky. Milroy’s of Soho.
Silver - Asyla. Compass Box
Silver - Langs Select 12 Years Old. Ian Macleod Distillers

13-18 years old
Gold - Hedges and Butler 15 Years Old. Ian Macleod Distillers
Silver - 15 Years Old Blend. Duncan Taylor & Company

19 years plus
Gold - 38 Years Old Blend. Duncan Taylor & Company
Silver - Isle of Skye 50 Years Old. Ian Macleod Distillers
Bronze - King of Scots 25 Years Old. Douglas Laing & Co
Bronze - Blue Hanger 30 Years Old. Berry Bros. & Rudd

HIGHLANDS

DUNCAN TAYLOR & COMPANY

Highly Commended : Douglas Laing

12 years old and under
Gold - Clynelish 12 Years Old. William Cadenhead Ltd
Silver - Provenance Blair Athol 12 Years Old. Douglas Laing & Co
Bronze - Clynelish 1995. Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co

13-18 years old
Gold - Glen Garioch 1988 18 Years Old. Duncan Taylor & Company
Silver - Old Malt Cask Dalmore 14 Years Old. Douglas Laing & Co
Bronze - Old Masters Glen Garioch 18 Years Old. James MacArthur & Co

19 years plus
Gold - Macduff 1969. Duncan Taylor & Company
Silver - Brora 1981. Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co
Bronze - Berrys’ Own Selection Lochside 1981. Berry Bros. & Rudd
Bronze - Cask Collection Teaninich 1975. Dewar Rattray Ltd

ISLANDS (NON ISLAY)

GORDON & MACPHAIL

12 years old and under
Gold - Highland Park 8 Years Old. Gordon & MacPhail
Silver - Isle of Arran 10 Years Old 121.14. Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Bronze - Whisky Galore Highland Park 11 Years Old. Duncan Taylor & Company

13-18 years old
Gold - Highland Park 17 Years Old. Milroy’s of Soho
Silver - Whisky Galore Highland Park 14 Years Old. Duncan Taylor and Company
Silver - Private Cellar Isle of Jura 17 Years Old. Forbes, Ross & Co

19 years plus
Gold - Rare old Ledaig 1976. Gordon & MacPhail
Gold - Highland Park 24 Years Old. Adelphi Distillery Ltd
Bronze - Highland Park 23 Years Old 4.110. Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Bronze - Scapa 1977. Duncan Taylor & Company

ISLAY

IAN MACLEOD DISTILLERS

Highly Commended : Gordon & MacPhail

12 years old and under
Gold - Cask strength Caol Ila 1994. Gordon & MacPhail
Silver - Bowmore 8 Years Old 3.117. Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Bronze - Smokehead Islay Single Malt. Ian Macleod Disillers
Bronze - Caol Ila 10 Years Old. Hart Brothers

13-18 years old
Gold - Scotts Selection Bruichladdich 15 Years Old. Forbes, Ross & Co
Silver - Dun Bheagan Caol Ila 16 Years Old. Ian Macleod Distillers
Silver - Old Malt Cask Ardbeg 15 Years Old. Douglas Laing & Co

19 years plus
Gold - Bowmore 1970. Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co
Silver - Chieftain’s Port Ellen 1982. Ian Macleod Distillers
Silver - Lonach Bunnahabhain 1966. Duncan Taylor & Company

Lowlands

DUNCAN TAYLOR & COMPANY

Highly Commended : Ian Macleod

12 years old and under
Gold - Dun Bheagan 8 Years Old Lowland. Ian Macleod Distillers
Silver - Battlehill Auchentoshan 6 Years Old. Duncan Taylor & Company
Bronze - Provenance Rosebank 12 Years Old. Douglas Laing & Co

13-18 years old
Gold - Whisky Galore Rosebank 15 Years Old. Duncan Taylor & Company
Silver - Littlemill 16 Years Old 97.6. Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Bronze - Rosebank 15 Years Old. Hart Brothers

19 years plus
Gold - Rarest of the Rare Inverleven 1977. Duncan Taylor & Company
Silver - Scott’s Selection Littlemill 22 Years Old. Forbes Ross & Co
Silver - Inverleven 1977. Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co

MAINLAND (NON SPEYSIDE)

SIGNATORY VINTAGE SCOTCH WHISKY CO

Highly Commended : Duncan Taylor & Company

12 years old and under
Gold - Deanston 1996. Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co
Silver - Milroy’s Springbank 12 Years Old. Milroy’s of Soho
Silver - Springbank 11 Years Old. Hart Brothers

13-18 years old
Gold - Springbank 15 Years Old 27.60. Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Gold - Berrys’ Own Selection Girvan Grain 1989. Berry Bros. & Rudd
Bronze - Glencadam 1989. Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co

19 years plus
Gold - Invergordon 1965 40 Years Old. Duncan Taylor & Company
Silver - Old Malt Cask Glenury 32 Years Old. Douglas Laing & Co
Bronze - Springbank 1970. Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Co

SPEYSIDE

DEWAR RATTRAY LTD

Highly Commended : Duncan Taylor & Company

12 years old and under
Gold - Old Masters Allt-A-Bhainne 10 Years Old. James MacArthur & Co
Silver - Berrys’ Own Selection Aberlour 1994. Berry Bros. & Rudd
Bronze - Strathmill 11 Years Old Single Malt. Ian Macleod Distillers

13-18 years old
Gold - Cask collection Macallan 1989. Dewar Rattray Ltd
Silver - Dried Fruit Basket. Wemyss Vintage Malts Ltd
Bronze - Whisky Galore Mortlach 16 Years Old. Duncan Taylor & Company

19 years plus
Gold - Glen Grant 1972 32 Years Old. John Milroy Selection
Silver - Cask Collection Linkwood 1985. Dewar Rattray Ltd
Bronze - Berrys’ Own Selection Glenlivet 1975. Berry Bros. & Rudd

VATTED / BLENDED MALT

DUNCAN TAYLOR & COMPANY

Highly Commended : Berry Bros. & Rudd

12 years old and under
Gold - Auld Reekie. Duncan Taylor & Company
Silver - Clan Denny Islay. Douglas Laing & Co
Bronze - Moidart 10 Years Old. William Cadenhead Ltd

13-18 years old
Gold - Old Masters Pure Islay Malts 14 Years old. James MacArthur & Co
Silver - Whisky Galore 16 Years Old Blended Malt. Duncan Taylor & Company

19 years plus
Gold - Blue Hanger 25 Years Old. Berry Bros. & Rudd
Silver - Lindores Abbey. Duncan Taylor & Company

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