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Independent Bottlers Challenge 2011

Reaching its seventh year, this competition has really set the benchmark for the Independent bottling community.

The challenge was created to show off the best this sector has to offer. The Independents are widely acknowledged as offering the whisky lover something different from their favourite distillery. Despite increasing pressure to find and buy casks, this year's competition has shown that this sector of the market is offering some phenomenal whiskies for the connoisseur.

Each company was allowed to enter one whisky for each category, and it was then assessed by members of the editorial judging panel.

The whiskies were tasted blind, the bottles were only marked with a category number and ABV. In each regional category a gold, silver and bronze medal has been awarded for the top scoring whiskies.

Then in each section a scoring system was applied to the medal winners and the highest scoring was awarded the overall regional category trophy.

This year we have again honoured the independent bottler who scores the most points across all the categories in the competition with an Icon of Whisky.

A broad spread of companies won medals, and there were six different trophy winners across the six categories and a score too close to separate the winners in one, reflecting the diversity and quality in the market place offered by these companies.

INDEPENDENT BOTTLER OF THE YEAR

INDEPENDENT BOTTLER
OF THE YEAR

WINNER

Again this year we honour the independent bottler who scored the most points across all categories in the competiton with an Icon of Whisky.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

The Judges

  • No judges listed

CAMPBELTOWN

Winner : Scotch Malt Whisky Society

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

93.42 Explosion in a honey factory
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Smoke & candy floss on the nose, heat & burnt toast in the mouth leading to a brilliant finish -JA
Creme brelee and banana, hint of nail polish, building to creamy egg nog. Orange peel and the faintest wisp of smoke leading to a nice drying finish -PT

SILVER
No silver was awarded in this category

BRONZE
No bronze was awarded in this category

13 - 20 YEARS

GOLD

Rare Auld Glen Scotia 1991
Duncan Taylor & Co.

Aroma of musty seaside attic. Lush, seaweed & gingersnap palate with a firm, dry finish -JA
Green and fresh, hint of smoke and seaweed. Water brings out some eucalyptus as well -PT

SILVER

Scott's Selection Glen Scotia 1991
Speyside Distillers

Slight, grainy nose; heather honey & marmalade in the mouth; extremely hot on the lips -JA
Maritime with some rubber and pronounced smoke -PT

BRONZE
No bronze was awarded in this category

21 YEARS & OVER
No medals awarded in this category

HIGHLAND

Winner : Whiskies of Scotland - singlemaltsdirect.com

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Old Pulteney 1998
Malts of Scotland

Nose of eau de vie; hot, plumy palate, like a Mirabelle with malty notes; complex -JA
Hints of eucalyptus waft around chocolate, ripe blueberry and lemon bath oil. Even a little waxiness to it -PT

SILVER

Provenance Blair Athol Over 11 Years Old
Douglas Laing & Co.

Aromas of rubbing alcohol & peach; dry and alcoholic palate that's well balanced -JA
Hint of caramel and pear drops,well balanced. Good texture. Hint of coffee and chocolate, slight fizz on the tongue -PT

BRONZE

Glengoyne 1999
Berry Bros. & Rudd

Nice, tablet-like sweetness -JA
Fresh, almond and butter on the nose. Richer mouthfeel -oily with a good long finish -PT

13 - 20 YEARS

GOLD

Dun Bheagan Ardmore 18 Years Old
Ian Macleod Distillers

Lovely woody nose. Superb balance of honey & cream -JA
Spice, smoke and salt on a bed of toffee. A touch of bitter peanut skin comes in. Gently fading finish. Nice balance overall -PT

SILVER

Glencadam 1990
Berry Bros. & Rudd

Peanut brittle in the nose. Sweet, hot, silky palate. Has a satisfying smoky finish -JA
Honey, lemon sherbet, vanilla. Builds to apple pie. Nice and juicy. Long finish, and it has this slowly reducing sweetness -PT

BRONZE

125.43 Dancing dolls in flower meadows
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Firm palate of anise and cinnamon with a lasting, chewy finish -JA
Menthol notes with a hint of burnt sugar. Some curry leaf and a touch of savoury acidity -PT

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Whiskies of Scotland Macduff 1969
singlemaltsdirect.com

Aromas of fine, old wood. Smooth palate of peaches and marmalade -JA
Pear drops, Creme de Myrtille, wisp of eucalyptus and clove. Light body, sweetness with a hint of coffee to it -PT

SILVER

77.21 Crispy duck and jasmine tea
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Big blast of honey, then cinnamon and clove hit the tongue and lead to a sumptuous, sweet finish -JA
Lively & fruity with spices and coffee. Orange, cloves, nice bitter notes. Strong fruits, spices and burnt sugars -PT

BRONZE

Rare Auld Invergordon 1972
Duncan Taylor & Co.

Oranges and marmalade on the tongue and a lingering, hot cinnamon finish -JA
Initially sweet becoming drying with menthol. Complex with a long finish as well -PT

ISLANDS (NON ISLAY)

Winner : Malts of Scotland

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Ledaig 1998 Sherry Cask
Malts of Scotland

Huge whiff of seaside, complete with mussels and chocolate. Peat and sweet oak mingle gracefully -EB
Medicinal, carbolic soap, wonderful phenolic peat, melted butter. Brandy snaps, crispy bacon and liquorice. Guy Fawkes would love this dram -NR

SILVER

Scapa 2000
Gordon & MacPhail

Delicate citrus and yellow stone fruit. Soft very easy drinking with citrus, honey and some vanilla -EB
Soft powder paints and light elderflower/orchard fruits . Creamy, raspberries and wonderful sweet vanilla. Summer sun in a glass -NR

BRONZE

NC2 Isle of Arran 1999
Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky

Elements of new make still in residence. Clean and sweet -EB
Ferns, toffee and a hint of carbolic soap. Very grainy with some sweet malty cereal -NR

13 - 20 YEARS

GOLD

Chieftain's Isle of Jura
Ian Macleod Distillers

Bags of fresh coconut and tropical fruit. Sweet with a really nice combination of honey and lemon -EB
Candied fruits, dried lavender, cedarwood and light cream. Very sweet and creamy on the palate, vanilla, carnation milk and cola bottle sweets -NR

SILVER

4.143 Honey on Hot Stones
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Some tropical fruit and waxed floorboards. Really fruity backed up a malty creaminess -EB
Fresh butter, pencil shavings and fennel, aromatic vanilla. Absolutely wonderful fresh blackcurrants and raspberries, more soft butter and tablet. Excellent -NR

BRONZE

Secret Stills 4.13
Gordon & MacPhail

Vanilla nose, beachy flavours. Whiff of peat and salt. Very moreish -EB
Blackcurrant cough drops, hint of light peat. Sweet, with a hint of sooty peat and vanilla -NR

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Scott's Selection Highland Park 1981
Speyside Distillers

Surprisingly soft, growing old gracefully. Lovely oily coating of the mouth. Warm and mellow -EB
Rounded soft peat, brazil nuts and natural yoghurt. Peach Melba, slight tropical fruits, lemon zest and a faint waft of peat -NR

SILVER

Mackillop's Choice Highland Park 28 Years Old
Angus Dundee

Camp coffee, with figs and tropical fruit. Plenty of oak, excellent complexity, a dram to really savour -EB
Peanut brittle, Toblerone, a waft of gentle peat smoke and caramel fudge. Cherry sherbet, strawberry creams. Earthy, with spicy peat -NR

BRONZE

Highland Park 1986
Malts of Scotland

Fruitcake and lemon shortbread, Fruitiness carries through. -EB
Dusty leather-bound books, woody casks and creamy chocolate abound -NR

ISLAY

Winner : Duncan Taylor & Co.

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Caol Ila 2000
Berry Bros. & Rudd

Floral notes under a marine influence, interestingly progressive. Faultless, does all it suggest it should. A cracker -RL
Smouldering peat smoke from a late night fire, salt and balsamic vinegar crisps and pork scratchings -JM

SILVER

Whiskies of Scotland Bowmore 2002
singlemaltsdirect.com

Potent, rose water, vanilla. Indeed promising. Consistent delivery, very impressive stuff -RL
An ethereal entity emerges through peat smoke haze. Well-rounded and delicious with a light finish -JM

BRONZE

NC2 Bowmore 1998
Duncan Taylor & Co.

Creamy, oily, iodine, peat, warm honey, has a long lasting mouth feeling -RL
Bathes the tongue like soothing linctus. Brittle toffees, caramel and bountiful vanilla -JM

13 - 20 YEARS

GOLD

Chieftain's Laphroaig
Ian Macleod Distillers

Citrus characters emerge, freshness of grapefruit perhaps, with juicy pears with a touch of honey -RL
Tarte au Citron, light spices, toasty oak and a hint of aniseed. Creosote on a paintbrush, soft smoke and sea urchin shells -JM

SILVER

Old Malt Cask Caol Ila
Douglas Laing & Co.

Fresh, zesty, touch of peat, light, fragrant. Big, warming, powerful and imposing -RL
Parma violets, creamy vanilla pudding, and a fine overlay of peat smoke-JL

BRONZE

3.169 Pagoda reek drifting over Loch Indaal
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Fresh sea like character, cloves and peat. Medicinal, iodine and grapefruit -RL
Warm kippers, dried heather, Barratt's dib dab, military boots polished to a sheen -JM

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Octave Caol Ila 1983
Duncan Taylor & Co.

Rich, woody, winey, peated, sweet, long with a bitter chocolate -RL
Chunks of plain chocolate, ground coffee, faint black pepper -JM

SILVER

Bunnahabhain 1973 Sherry Cask
Malts of Scotland

Sherry, fresh, sweet, with winy notes. Well aged-RL
Rich sherry notes, glace cherries, dark fudge and molasses through to black treacle -JM

Scott's Selection Caol Ila 1981
Speyside Distillers

Sherry, fresh, sweet and winey notes. Big dram -RL
Kippers, lobster pots, apple pie, white peppercorns and warm fish and chip wrappers -JM

BRONZE

Whispering Smoke
Wemyss Vintage Malts

Pineapple, ripe banana, toffee. Peat undertone, a slight saltiness -RL
A fug of peat smoke, tones of pine needles, barrel char and wooden fish boxes endure-JM

LOWLAND

Winner : Speyside Distillers

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Auchentoshan 1999 For Fulldram
Malts of Scotland

Candy canes & hazelnut syrup. Plenty of wood character from a fresh cask. Burnt sugar, with savoury edges. Surprising depth -EB
Rubbery demijohn bungs and fat juicy raisins. Spicy flat cola, liquorice root notes, cocoa, and old leather. Dried fruits linger with more of the syrupy cola notes -NR

SILVER

Whiskies of Scotland Auchentoshan 2000
singlemaltsdirect.com

Pineapple and rhubarb with boiled sweets on the nose. Light and delicate, just what a young Lowland should be, no more no less -EB
Chopped hazelnuts, almonds, slightly sweaty note and fresh oak cakes -NR

BRONZE

Octave Auchentoshan 1999
Duncan Taylor & Co.

Pleasant barley sugar nose, with ruminants of new make -EB
Buttery, powder paint, a wisp of a gentle peat -NR

13 - 20 YEARS

GOLD

50.41 Winter Fireworks
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Interesting, touches of cardamom and mint, definite menthol edge. Sweet but not cloying, minty savoury edge. Bloody brilliant -EB
Farm yard notes, compost wafts, dried leaves, and mint. Sweet marzipan, strawberries -NR

SILVER

Dun Bheagan Rosebank French Oak Finish
Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd

Nice light citrus, with sherbet and barley sugar prevailing. Sweetness that is checked by a touch of rich earthiness. Oily dust on the finish -EB
Vitamin pills, fragrant wax, orange creams, sweet soft fruit compote and hazelnuts -NR

BRONZE

Bladnoch 1990
Berry Bros. & Rudd

Very oaky cask notes, sugar paper, wallpaper paste, soft caramel and milky chocolate powder. Very dry finish to it -NR

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Scott's Selection Caledonian 1965
Speyside Distillers

Deep, almost brooding. Warm walnut and spice, quite delicious, a really serious dram -EB
Creamy coconut on the palate, spiced creme brelee and juicy raisins. Surprisingly youthful -NR

SILVER

Rare Auld Cameronbridge 1979
Duncan Taylor & Co.

Blimey, how complex do you want a whisky to be! Coffee, menthol, lime and figs. Soft round, more menthol and lemon leading to a dry honeyish finish. Yum yum! -EB
Wow, very sweet fruit, creamy coconut, fresh cherry aromas, flavoursome rye whiskey notes and black cherries on the palate. Fabulous -NR

BRONZE

22.29 Bringing in the Barley
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Grass, lemon and honey -EB
Leathery notes, sweet strawberry jam, smoked ham. Waxy, white pepper, a hoppy bitterness -NR

SPEYSIDE

Winner : Douglas Laing & Co.

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Miltonduff 1998
Berry Bros. & Rudd

Cocoa powder and melted milk chocolate aromas. Toasted almonds and a salty, chicken satay finish -JH
Leafiness, manure, heather and a touch of malt. Beautiful and grassy with hints of white liquorice and gentle citrus fruit -CG

SILVER

1.158 Cricketer's Dram
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Strong honeysuckle and rose water. Delicate gum ball palate backed with some cracked black pepper and a strong, cinnamon spice finish -JH
Serious globs of farmyards and peat along with some sweet fruit lurking beneath. With time some vanilla oak puts in an appearance -CG

BRONZE

Octave Craigellachie 1999
Duncan Taylor & Co.

Latte spiked with liquorice nose with honey roast ham palate and an exceedingly spicy finish -JH
Peppery tequila notes and some old wood. Burnt caramel and citrus -CG

13 - 20 YEARS

GOLD

Linkwood 15 Years Old
Gordon & MacPhail

Cherries in brandy. Butterscotch and tablet and tree bark spices in the finish -JH
Soft and broad, opening with some light coffee. The gorgeously mature honey begins to shine. Great depth, enhanced with a liberal sprinkling of spices -CG

SILVER

Ginger Compote
Wemyss Vinatge Malts

Undercooked ginger bread nose keeps going in to a gingerbread plate and, guess what, a ginger bread finish! Nice... if you like ginger bread! -JH
Beautiful light honey and barley. Very concentrated and deep -CG

BRONZE

7.66 Harmonious co-existence of flavour
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Freshly baked brown bread, some basil and thyme, a second hand book or two -JH
There's a beguiling maturity to the honey and the subservient oak adds a buttery twist -CG

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Old Malt Cask Glenallachie 38 Years Old
Douglas Laing & Co.

Hot-on-the-hob raspberry jam on the nose, with the same red summer fruit adding fresh black cherries to the palate. A sweet shop full of open jars! -JH
Soft and juicy. A lovely depth and concentration of mature sherried fruit -CG

SILVER

Rare Auld Glen Grant 1974
Duncan Taylor & Co.

Dried apricots and dry sand dunes. Fruit cake with thick icing and a lengthy finish of orange peel and brandy -JH
Simply stunning, luscious and aromatic. A lovely complex mouthful of spicy dark chocolate and honey -CG

BRONZE

104.13 An angel fallen to earth
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Coffee, freshly cut gala melon and apricots. Heavy cigars and some pink grapefruit on the death -JH
Wonderfully deep and evolving. Luscious orange fruit -CG

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