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Issue 30 - Distiller of the year: Diageo

Whisky Magazine Issue 30
April 2003


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Distiller of the year: Diageo

There were many entrants for this category, some obvious, some not so. The award is meant to be for an individual, but a clear trend started to emerge – there was a regular stream of votes for Diageo-owned distilleries, and occasionally, votes for Diageo itself. We just couldn't ignore it.

What was unusual in this category was that some voters wanted to write in support of their nomination, resulting in some of the most passionate opinions expressed anywhere in these Whisky Awards.

There is an understandable wariness that borders on cynicism when it comes to any big company. But Diageo has been doing some great things.

Some argued that Diageo should be chosen precisely because it is a big company. It doesn't have to invest time and money in whisky in the way it is doing, runs the argument, and if it is praised and encouraged, other big companies might support the industry, too.

One voter, nominating Classic Malts for the award, wrote: “The whole concept of Classic Malts is regionality – of linking malt whisky to its provenance – which is what single malts should be about. Their bosses at Diageo may have been slow to enter the world of malts, but they are catching up, with Hidden Malts and so on. And they are light years ahead of their larger rivals.”

But the best submission in the company's support said it all really. We're leaving it anonymous, but it comes from a weighty source and we support every word.

“Despite being big, it has not taken the lazy path. ...

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