Whisky Magazine Issue 8
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Is it possible to compile an objective hierarchy of malts?
In the last issue of Whisky Magazine, we revealed the results of a survey which asked you to tell us your favourite malts. By chance, the results of a similar survey conducted by Highland Distillers were published on their website at the same time.
Interestingly, the top 10 malts were identical on both lists although in a different order. They were: Springbank, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, The Macallan, Highland Park, Glenmorangie, Talisker, Bowmore, The Balvenie. The Highland Distillers compiled its Millennium Classification by asking five leading whisky writers – including Whisky Magazine's Michael Jackson, to rank what they believed to be the top 20 malts in their own market, bearing in mind quality, consistency, availability and reputation.
Even before the results were known, Highland's hope was that other Scotch whisky companies might accept the rankings, and that it might provide the basis for a universal classification which banded malts into first, second, third, class etc, not unlike the famous (some might even say infamous) Médoc Classification of 1855. Not surprisingly, especially since Highland malts were listed equal first and second in the Millennium Classification, the other companies were unwilling to play ball. But is it possible to compile an objective heirarchy of malts? Several attempts have been made to classify by flavour, on the basis that 'if you like brand X, you'll like brand Y'. Currently, both Victoria Wines and Tesco supermarket offer such c...