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Issue 46 - Industry 'Oscars' honour the heroes of whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 46
March 2005


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Industry 'Oscars' honour the heroes of whisky

The Icons of Whisky recognise the people and companies that have made the biggest contribution to the world of whisky. Dominic Roskrow explains how the winners were chosen

It's become something of an annual ritual. At an indeterminate time after the summer and before Christmas, Dave Broom will telephone in a bit of a flap. Have we thought about the voting for Icons? He'll say. Then we'll meet up, consume whisky, and debate firstly, what the fairest method of judging should be, and then, who should go on the shortlist.

There are three options: one, the ‘democratic' option: a general vote among all readers of the magazine by email and on the internet; two, the ‘Stalinist' option: a vote by a small panel of specially selected judges on a shortlist drawn up by a small editorial panel; or the third route: a shortlist drawn up by an editorial panel and then voted on by a largish cross section of the whisky industry.

It's not a straightforward choice: for instance, how do Europe, America and Japan get a look in if 80 per cent of the votes come from Scotland? And if more readers of the magazine go to Scotland than anywhere else, wouldn't a public vote just pick the same obvious winners each year?

Our solution, which we like to think gets more refined with every passing year, was to go for the third, hybrid option. We took soundings from as wide a base as we could before coming up with a short list. And we then invited about 250 people to vote for up to three choices in each award.

To make it fairer to non-Scottish entrants we intended to weight votes so that countries where only five or 10 people were asked to vote were given a fairer chance. I...

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