A journey round Islay, visits to Maker's Mark and Penderyn, and the conclusion to our trip down the Rockies
It has been a dramatic year for whisky globally. We have seen the constant expansion of distilleries in Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the USA to keep up with demand. New distilleries have also sprung up across the world with new producers eager to ride the whisky wave; similarly in the USA craft distilling is starting to carve a big niche and tantalise drinkers with new flavours and styles.
Reflecting this global nature of the whisky industry, the Icons are designed to celebrate the people and places behind the great whiskies of the world.
Continuing the same format as previous years the editorial panel held voting rounds for companies based in the USA, Scotland and the rest of the world.
This gave us a final shortlist from which the global icons are voted on by the editorial judging panel. Voting this year was pretty close in many categories, with just a few votes separating the winner from the rest of the nominations.
Production capacity increased many of its sites, an investment of nearly £150million across the Highland Council area and more expansion plans to come, increasing grain capacity, a raft of new expressions and building new distilleries.
Diageo has been putting its money where its mouth is for its brands and the category, proving that with great size comes great responsibility.
Irish Distillers Ltd. ROW
Buffalo Trace. USA
Balcones Distillery. USA
One of the great single retailers in the world with a great retail history. This haven for the capital’s malt lovers range of Scotch malt whisky has now grown to more than 2500 different expressions making it one of the best places to find rare or unusual malt whisky.
The Whisky Exchange has flourished since the turn of the millennium, surviving the dotcom crisis and continuing to diversify and strengthen its business. TWE’s remarkable growth in the last five years has been driven by genuine word-ofmouth recommendations based on its excellence of product, fairness of price and reliability of service.
Gordon & MacPhail. Scotland
Park Avenue Liquor Shop. USA
With shops spanning not just France, but also Singapore and the island of La Réunion, La Maison du Whisky is truly taking the whisky message to the world and spreading the considerable joys of single malt and blends.
The shops have become the meeting place for amateurs and connoisseurs eager for new malt discoveries. Scanning the shelves you can choose a single malt Scotch from a single barrel, a Japanese single malt, pure pot still Irish one, a single barrel American Bourbon or even a Breton whiskey and many other wonders offered including exclusives by La Maison. If you cannot find something the staff are always happy to help.
Continuing its success in this category, the Master of Malt team has triumphed yet again. Impressing the judges, the bar for online retailer has just been raised yet again. Starting in a retail shop in Royal Tunbridge Wells, the Master of Malt website now provides one of the most expansive ranges of fine and rare malts to be found anywhere in the world. The site is simple and easy to navigate, combining distillery facts, tasting notes and products.
The company demonstrates industryleading knowledge and experience with a drive and passion for all things whisky related. These include the company’s own independent offerings and the excellent ‘try a sample before you buy’ service
Royal Mile Whiskies. Scotland
This most distinctive of Islay’s whiskies offers a warm welcome to visitors from across the world. From a walk through tour to owning your piece of Islay, Laphroaig has stamped its mark on the visitor centre experience.
Old Jameson Distillery. Rest of World
Oscar Getz Museum of Bourbon History. USA
This pioneering and agile family firm has been quietly releasing some stunning whiskies this year, from its storming of the grain category with its Girvan release to some innovative blending masterpieces with the Tun 1401 series. The company has combined excellent wood management and serious quality spirit.
Compass Box Whisky Company. Rest of World
Corsair Distillery. USA
Michael has a passion and commitment to the whisky industry, especially in Ireland. Part owner and the whisky brain behind the award winning Dublin pub L. Mulligan Grocer and its events arm Swallow, Michael is an expert at promoting the whisky category and switching people on to it with his technical knowledge, warm demeanour and infectious enthusiasm.
David Mair, Balvenie. Scotland
Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey. USA
David Blackmore, Glenmorangie. USA
Michael “Mickey” Heads, an Islay native, has been providing liquid consistency at Ardbeg since 2007. The former manager at Jura is now in his 34th year in the industry, having cut his teeth at Laphroaig in the peat bogs before becoming assistant brewer.
Jean Donnay,Glann ar Mor Distillery. Rest of World
Parker Beam,Heaven Hill Distillery. USA
Rich in Canadian Club artifacts, the brand centre is a masterpiece of restored architectural detail and tasteful décor, amply illustrating Tish’s devotion to detail.
Here, in 2013, 15,000 guests from around the world gained a deeper appreciation for Canadian Club while learning of Canada’s role during prohibition. Curious tourists and prominent dignitaries alike might be surprised to learn that behind the scenes their hostess, herself, polishes the floors of the gallery where priceless works by Canada’s most influential artists hang.
Pat Retson, Highland Park. Scotland
Kim Bennett, Jim Beam American Stillhouse. USA