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Independent Bottlers Challenge 2012 Winners

We unveil this year’s award winners of the Independent Bottlers’ Challenge

The Independent Bottlers’ Challenge has come to represent one of the most encompassing reviews of the independent bottling sector. Now in its eighth year this competition sets a benchmark for the independent community.

Using a broad spectrum of knowledgeable judges each whisky is assessed and marked against its peers. The competition is judged blind, with bottles only marked with a category, number and ABV.

In each regional category gold, silver and bronze medals have been awarded to the top scoring whiskies. Then a scoring system is applied to the medal winners and the highest scoring is awarded the overall regional category trophy.

The independent bottler who scores the most points across all categories is honoured with an Icon of Whisky award for the achievement.

This year a good spread of companies have picked up awards, reflecting the diversity and quality that this sector offers to the consummer.

It is widely held that the independents offer something different from distillery bottlings, providing a wealth of choice and variety.

For this year’s awards we introduced a new category; grain, something that the independent sector does well.

What the competition really shows is a part of the whisky world that is in rude health despite the prevailing market conditions; with the world waking up, whisky casks become increasingly hard to find.

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.

Malts of Scotland

The Judges

  • Jim Anderson The Anderson
  • Edward Bates whisky expert
  • Jon Beach Fiddler's Highland Resturant
  • Lucy Britner whisky expert
  • Michael Foggarty whisky expert
  • Chris Goodrum Gauntleys of Nottingham
  • Alwynne Gwilt Miss Whisky
  • Joel Harrison Cask Strength
  • Kerry Johnstone Malt Teaser
  • Michael Lord Dufftown Whisky Shop
  • Jonny McCormick whisky expert
  • Annabel Meikle whisky expert
  • Tom Morton whisky expert
  • Felicity Murray Editor, The Drinks Report
  • Neil Ridley Cask Strength
  • Pierre Thiebaut Connosr
  • Olly Wehring Just Drinks

CAMPBELTOWN

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Glen Scotia 12 Years Old

William Cadenhead Ltd

Match strike, vanilla and orange on the nose. Delicate orange blossom and citrus with a rich salty finish - LB

Fleshy apricot, hints of herbal marc and youthful cereal. Slightly woody and creamy with subtle apricot and salt. Good depth with a lengthy and spicy finish - CG

Sweet and honeyed, like the inside of a crunchie bar - MF

SILVER

93.45 An Unusual Sweetie Shop

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Savoury, woody nose with ripe pear top notes. Waxy mouthfeel with orange peel –LB

Intense, high toned and slightly soapy aromas of apricot, salt and sherry. The palate is dry and woody but pleasantly sweetly malted. Sherry notes of liquorice, treacle and spice.Water emphasises the ight peat - CG

Tacky sweet and creamy. Waxy church candles - MF

BRONZE

No bronze was awarded in this category

13 – 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

Longrow 13 Years Old

William Candenhead Ltd

Smoky nose with fresh pear and creamy custard notes - LB

Intense, pungent and fishy. Earthy and smoky with plenty of peat, tar, light toffee and salt - CG

Light leather, smoky fish, funfair toffee apples. Good balance and length - MF

SILVER

Glen Scotia 1992

Malts of Scotland

Slight smoke, vanilla and sulphur. Peppery/woody and slightly smoky finish –LB

Quite brawny with earthy-coffee sherry, a touch of dried fruit and vanillins - CG

Stunning. Fresh Chesterfield sofa leather, big stewed fruits, a perfect marriage of flavours - MF

BRONZE

Springbank 1994

Berry Bros. & Rudd

Marmalade nose wth vanilla top notes, sweet and fruity –LB

Gentry sweet sherry fruit mingles with liquorice, chocolate and roasted cofffee - CG

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Scott’s Selection Glen Scotia 1991

Speyside Distillers

Delicate and floral, savoury and salty undertones, white pepper and honey–LB

Opens with light coffee, dusty spices and gentle wood tannins as well - CG

Sweet butterscotch, green banana, Tetley tea bags with milk and two - MF

SILVER

Whiskies of Scotland Glen Scotia 1991

Single Malts Ltd

Vanilla fudge, apricots. Spicy, dried fruits and wood–LB

Sherry aromas with hints of boiled sweets as well - CG

An explosion of tropical fruits and malt balancing excellently with the oak - MF

BRONZE

Strawberry Ganache

Wemyss Vintage Malts

Smoky, pears, rich wood. Dried fruit and black tea –LB

Gentle with green nuts, salt and treacle.Plenty of dried fruits - CG

HIGHLAND

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Glen Ord 1999

Malts of Scotland

Jellied fruits, in particluar Turkish Delight and with a finish of caramel latté - KJ

Lovely deep rich red wine, leather, and cigars. Loads of fruit, dates, plums and figs - JH

Beeswax, lemon bonbons and a hint of furniture polish - JM

SILVER

Ailein Mor 10 Years Old

Robert Graham

Very thick and full, lots of cream and sweet fudge. Marzipan is there in the distance - KJ

Vanilla custard, spices and white flowers - JH

Vanilla custard, honey on buttered bread, freshly quartered oranges and fresh oak chippings - JM

BRONZE

66.35 Savoury Smoke & Spicy Sweetness

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Earthey and sweet with just the right amount of peat. very big and plump - KJ

Weighty mouthfeel with caramel sauce and molasses - JM

13 – 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

Glengoyne 1998

Malts of Scotland

Heather, a thwack of malt with damp autumn leaves and melted milk chocolate - KJ

BBQ pork, strawberry jam wrapped in old oak, coffee and cigars - JH

Warm mince pies and orange rind perfume. It is so rich and full bodied, soft and delicious - JM

SILVER

Scott’s Selection Burnside 1994

Speyside Distillers

A full on Carribean fruit platter explosion, finishing off into a creamy banana milkshake - KJ

Excellent coffee, strawberry, raspberry and ginger tones all wrapped up in banana bread -JH

A powerful sherry punch paves the way for brambles and strawberry jam - JM

BRONZE

82.19 Stunning

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Incredibly nutty, walnuts drizzled with honey - KJ

Lush autumnal fruits gently bathe the tongue - JM

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Golden Cask Bottling Macduff 31 Years Old

Cumbrae Supply Company

Oranges, tasty oak, nutty. Tannic. Mandarin segments. Tingling, oily with a coating texture - AM

Stewed soft fruit, vanilla, oak and a touch of perfume. Coconut and masses of passion fruit on the palate - NR

SILVER

Balblair 1979

Gordon & MacPhail

Toffee, caramel and milk chocolate. Camphor, incense sticks. Old Fashioned feel to it. Soft, ingering finish -AM

Fermented fruit wine, powder paint slightly farm yardy/wet hay with soft fruit compote, rosewater and ginger - NR

BRONZE

Pulteney 21 Years Old

William Cadenhead Ltd

Complex, rich tropical fruits. Orange and mango. Toasted nuttiness. With water lots of citrus develops-AM

Super sweetcom the palate, with apple candies and vanilla - NR

ISLANDS (NON ISLAY)

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Whiskies of Scotland Isle of Arran 1999

Single Malts Ltd

Sweet dried apricots, orange blossom, a very light and aromatic dram - LB

Slightly creamy with a touch of orange fruit. Quite perfumed and sumptuous - CG

A very good all rounder for one so young, a clean fresh dram - MF

SILVER

121.51 Amazing Waves of Sweetness

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Vanilla and dried apricots, very peppery alcohol, lightly smoky finish - LB

Earthy with hints of liquorice and dark chocolate. With water it becomes longer with a beautiful honey sheen - CG

BRONZE

Chieftains Isle of Jura

Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd

Delicate vanilla fudge, peach blossom. A rich woody palate - LB

Plenty of youthful cereal, green barley and hints of boiled sweets - CG

13 - 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

4.157 Buttercup Meadows & Heather Moor Burn

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Hint of smoke, hay, fudge and yellow apples. Fudge sweetness and then savoury grassy notes - LB

Manure, light earthy peat, old wood, malt and balsamic notes. Water allows the mature fruit to emerge with a lovely honeyed coating - CG

SILVER

Old Malt Cask Highland Park 15 Years Old

Douglas Laing & Co

Light floral nose with white peach and orange. Light bodied with hay in the finish - LB

Very juicy, sugar coating. Gentle peat, with salt, spice and wood tannins - CG

BRONZE

Ledaig 1998

Malts of Scotland

Smoke, leather and wood polish. Dark chococlate and more smoke on the palate - LB

Burnt toffee and rubber mingles with the sherry wood, water softens it - CG

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Scott's Selection Highland Park 1989

Speyside Distillers

Butterscotch, milk chocolate. Slightly tropical with hints of coffee, delicate wood notes - LB

Creamy oak, gentle powdery spices and crème caramel - CG

BBQ fruits on a beach awash with sea air beside a burnt out bonfire, Scotland in Autumn - MF

SILVER

Mackillop's Choice Highland Park December 1991

Angus Dundee

Fruit gums, grass and orange sherbert. Sweet and light - bodied, with a waxy finish - LB

Fleshy apricot, banana, satsuma are joined by some light peat smoke which builds pleasantly - CG

BRONZE

Whiskies of Scotland Highland Park 25 Years Old

Single Malts Ltd

Gentle, slight perfumed. Palate opens dark toffee, dates, prunes and raisins. A lovely sharp citrus twang balances - CG

ISLAY

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Golden Cask Bottling Bowmore 11 Years Old

Cumbrae Suuply Company

Quite woody, like the inside of a cedar chest. Then sweet strawberry foams and daffodils. Suddely toffee comes out in the mouth - AG

Black pepper and fresh mango on the nose, more on the palate, pineapple with some char and bark on the finish - ML

SILVER

Whiskies of Scotland Bowmore 2002

Single Malts Ltd

Smells of wet dog at the seaside. A nice amount of sweetness, well balanced with lemon toffee - AG

Tomato plants, lanolin, squashed fruits and peach schnapps. - ML

BRONZE

Caol Ila 2000

Berry Bros. & Rudd

Very light with hints of cigar smoke and caramel.- AG

Initially sweet fudge with a little pear juice and limes with scented wood smoke. Well balanced with lots of smoke, a little tar and vanilla - ML

13 - 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

Bowmore 1995

Malts of Scotland

Wood workshops and liquorice with a sweet, sandalwood note. Mellows with water, fresh lime pulp, burnt brown sugar and soft Aussie liquorice dominate - AG

Polish and bruised fruits - cherries and peaches with raisin. Trifle, honey biscuits and then smoke come through for a big finish - ML

SILVER

Whiskies of Scotland Caol Ila 19 Years Old

Single Malts Ltd

Bacon and sherry and a high school woodshop on the nose, tastes of chocolate and cream with a finish of cloves - AG

Flapjacks and popcorn. Toffee crisps and sugar puffs mingle with all that smoke. Lots of flavours all nicelyl in balance - ML

BRONZE

Laphroaig 1998

Berry Bros. & Rudd

Summer meadows, paint thinner and Galaxy milk choclate. Smoke suddenly emerges, notes of ginger, chilli and nutmeg - AG

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Golden Cask Bottling Bunnahabhain 40 Years Old

Cumbrae Supply Company

Sweet, fresh, then bitter caramel, chocoalte, strawberries, pink peppercorns, steamed spinach. Finishes on maraschino cherries over vanilla ice cream! - AG

Treacle and vanilla with rock salt and crushed peaches. Syrupy with toffee biscuits and over baked cake crust - ML

SILVER

Mackillop's Choice Port Ellen 1979

Angus Dundee

Creamy with a baby wisp of smoke and sour, nutty notes. Long lasting and well developed - AG

Vanilla pods, summer fruits and wood shavings - ML

BRONZE

Dancing Stag Bowmore 1990

Robert Graham Ltd

A gentle wave of creamy, salty smoke that is balanced wonderfully together -AG

The taste is sweet, meringues and has subtle smoke and tar - ML

LOWLAND

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Auchentoshan 1999

Malts of Scotland

A touch of sherry. Nicely balanced. Polished oak floorboards, with figs and hazelnut. A wonderful savoury depth that belies the youth - EB

Rich colour. Sherry in the nose. A luxurious, silky palate of ginger, sherry and allspice. Cinnamon sneaks in as the finish gets hot, then subsides - JA

SILVER

Golden Cask Bottling Auchentoshan 12 Years Old

Cumbrae Supply Company

A light nuttiness, really interesting on the nose. Although dominated by the ABV, the character really comes over. With water, it is outstanding, the nuttiness is balanced by a delicate honeyed sweetness - EB

BRONZE

Auchentoshan 12 Years Old

William Cadenhead Ltd

Coffee and walnut cake. With water the nose comes alive, now it's deep and complex, it has transformed into something special - EB

Quite a dry palate, woody, lightbodied, slightly almondy - JA

13 - 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

Royal Brackla 19 Years Old

William Cadenhead Ltd

Grapefruit and lemon mingle with light oak. Good mouthfeel, chewy lemon and honey - EB

Slight glue and hessia aromas. Mild, slightly oily palate. Mild orange and turkish delight flavours swell to an cinnamon-hot finish - JA

SILVER

Chieftains Rosebank

Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd

A touch of resin and floor polish. Wow, smoke!? - EB

Fresh rainfall aroma with a hint of clover. Seductive, smooth palate, oily with sweet honey, apricot and ginger notes that linger and tingle in the finish - JA

BRONZE

Bladnoch 1991

Malts of Scotland

Rather resiny but complex yellow stone fruit on the nose. Baby soft palate, very chewy, excellent mouthfeel. Touch of mint humbugs - EB

Warming palate of peaches and honey. Smooth, lingering finish - JA

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Mackillop's Choice Linlithgow October 1982

Angus Dundee

Parma violets and yellow fruit. Sweet and complex, just what a Lowland should be - EB

Hint of mint and cocoa on the tongue, then wet wood. Long, swelling finish - JA

SILVER

Dumbarton 24 Years Old

William Cadenhead Ltd

Nice balance of aroma, promises much. The palate doesn't let you down either, a very well balanced malt - EB

Bouquet of poached pear. Sweet apples on the tongue followed by a warming woody finish - JA

BRONZE

97.21 Laurel, Meadowsweet & Honeysuckle

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Fresh clover and spruce aroma. Light body with a touch of malty sweetness to it as well. Tingly, cinnamon finish - JA

SPEYSIDE

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Macduff 2000

Berry Bros. & Rudd

Malty with cocoa nibs, peanut brittle and orage cream chocolate. Sweet, with soft fruit, caramel and cream - NR

Juicy black plums. Baked apples and blackcuurant pastilles. Rich velvety texture, very soft and exotic - AM

SILVER

Cragganmore 1999

Malts of Scotland

Acetone, floor polish, nutmeg and drying woody spices - NR

Orange blossom and pommanders. Honey, sandalwood and exotic fruits. Marzipan and maderia cake. Soft and chewy - AM

BRONZE

Tamdhu 2001

Gordon & MacPhail

Heavyweight with fruitcake, five spice, sherry wood and burnt sugar. Dark chocolate, liquorice and coffee on the palate - NR

Coffee, chocolate orange, butterscotch. Pencil shavings and tannic on tongue. Dry roasted peanuts. Christmas cake - AM

13 - 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

Mackillop's Choice Auchroisk October 1992

Angus Dundee

Fragrant, floral, orange notes. Powerful, great arc of flavour and body. Orange liqueur, caramel. Good length, elegant - FM

Baked apples and pears on short crust pastry. A hint of honey and nougat. Good spice, and fruit in the mid palate, becoming more savoury - PT

SILVER

Whiskies of Scotland Glen Grant 1991

Single Malts Ltd

Banana, soft and creamy, some cirtus. Sweet with tropical fruit and Demerara, an energetic and different malt - FM

Butterscotch, honey and a hint of melon. Slight nuttiness. Burned sugar and spices. Long finish with plenty of caramelised sugar and some curry spice - PT

BRONZE

Dimensions Glenlossie 1992

Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky

Dried apricots, clove, nutmeg and a little burned sugar. Peach comes through on the palate - PT

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Scott's Selection Aberlour 1987

Speyside Distillers

Malty, sweet oranges and pineapple - FM

Toffee, stewed prunes and raisins. Then a little sweet pastry and some backround notes of clove spice and liquorice root. Nice oily feel, dried fruits and caramelised sugars. Bitter peanut skin on the finish - PT

SILVER

Glen Grant 1974

Berry Bros. & Rudd

Lots of depth, toffee and malty notes. Touch of smoke followed by Demerara - FM

Resinous with some spices and mint. Burned toffee and eucaplyptus. Herbal tones and hints of clove. Aromatic finish ending on cocoa and espresso - PT

BRONZE

Tomintoul 1967

Malts of Scotland

Spice and Bourbon notes, some ginger and clove, underpinned by vanilla sweetness. Good mouthfeel, nutmeg and white pepper with a sweet toffee undertow - PT

GRAIN

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Whiskies of Scotland Port Dundas 1973

Single Malts Ltd

Aroma of damp wood and speculoos. Warm, spicy flavour of ginger, vanilla and peaches, leading to a blossoming hot finish - JA

Delicate Bakewell pudding complete with cherry on top! Nuances of fino sherry. The palate is soft and yummy with pink sweet shop nougat - EB

SILVER

Scott's Selection Invergordon 1964

Speyside Distillers

Huge, sweet oak and molasses nose. Very rich palate of sugary hazelnuts, ginger, vanilla and malty oak. Delicate finish leaves you wanting more - JA

Nose reminds of a newly lit BBQ. Coffee creams on the palate are soft and unctuous - EB

BRONZE

No bronze was awarded in this category

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