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Issue 30 - In search of excellence

Whisky Magazine Issue 30
April 2003


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In search of excellence

Three continents, 40 outstanding whiskies, and more than 75 of the world's best tasters – Best of the Best 2003 was an event of epic proportions. Dominic Roskrowexplains why, and how, it happened

The Best of the Best 2003 – what a nightmare. Or at least, three nightmares; nightmares that have recurred time and time again since we first embarked on the whole, massive business.

Nightmare one: the room is full of Scotland's finest whisky tasters, earnestly coming to grips with a weighty flight of Speyside malts.

There is absolute silence as I carry in a tray of 40 glasses, each containing Glenfiddich Rare 40 years old, retailing at about £1,000 ($1,500) a bottle.

Suddenly I trip, falling face-first on the floor, the glasses smashing dramatically. And when I recover sufficiently to look up, I am met by the incredulous and bemused stares of 40 of my peers …

Nightmare two: we're in Kentucky and I'm serving whiskies to one of the four tasting groups.

“Is this sample C or sample D?” someone asks. I don't know.

"C or D? C or D? C or D? ” – the voices become a chant. And I haven't a clue.

“Just make it up,” I shout. “Just have a guess. You're meant to be the experts – don't you know?”

Nightmare three: my hands are tied and I can't move them, and a constant stream of fine whisky is passed before me. I can smell it but can't touch it.

And one by one, tasters walk by and tell me that I really should try a few, because they really are excellent …

Almost none of the above actually happened, but it says much about the enormity of the task that Whisky Magazine undertook that I have been so affected by it. And I wasn't even organising it – heaven kn...

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