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Issue 16 - Being one of the best

Whisky Magazine Issue 16
June 2001


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Being one of the best

David Stirk, one of Whisky Magazine's tasting panel representatives in Edinburgh, explains what it was like to be part of this definitive tasting and how he and his fellow panelists managed to surivive!

The names of the panellists read like a Who's Who of the Scotch whisky industry. It was a bold attempt to bring competitors from almost every whisky company into a situation where they were openly grading not only the competitors whiskies but also their own. We were cordially seated by Marcin Miller, Publisher of Whisky Magazine, at six tables consisting of six tasters before he addressed the assembled masses and discussed the task in front of us.

We were to taste 47 whiskies split up into eight flights, awarding them an individual score out of ten based upon our thoughts on its nose, palate and finish. Each table could confer and talk about each whisky but we were told in no uncertain terms that we were to score each dram on its overall merit from an individual perspective. This was no team effort.

My table consisted of an almost perfect selection from within the industry to conduct a tasting with. David Robertson, Master Distiller for The Macallan; Dr Bill Lumsden, Head of Distilleries and Maturation for Glenmorangie; Richard Joynson, proprietor of Loch Fyne Whiskies; Jamie Walker, Managing Director of Adelphi and Ewan Gunn, Director of Cadenhead's. Our table was the youngest and it was appropriate then that it was also the most vocal. Our opinions were shared and were often humorous, especially those of the inimitable Richard Joynson whose tasting notes read like a dictionary of modern taste descriptors – “Diesel and boiled potatoes” was a particular favourite. As ...

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