To the victor

To the victor

After intensive rounds of judging the winner is announced… George Keeble

Battle of the Blends | 27 Apr 2018 | Issue 151 | By George Keeble

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It has been a pleasure few issues watching George and Lyndsay put their blends together and the creation of two impressive whiskies, also understanding the reasoning behind their choices.

However in the end there can be only one. Voting took place at Whisky Live London and via the Master of Malt website with people receiving judging kits at home. The final victory goes to George by a margin of 58.63 per cent to 41.37.

So to round off this year’s challenge, we say a big thank you to Lyndsay for taking part and commiserations, and over to George.

“I write this while bouncing around in the back seat of the Bruichladdich Academy minibus on the Isle of Islay, with passing vistas of gorse-filled farmland, crashing waves and sea spray. I’ve managed to squeeze in one final whisky trip before I leave Blighty in search of new pastures Down Under. With only three weeks to go, what better place to spend a few days than on this glorious island.

“The Battle result is in and I’m honoured to once again be crowned the winner! I approached this year’s challenge with a more carefree attitude than last year. I slung a case of mead into my cask, swilled it around for a month, whipped it out, poured the whiskies in and six months later, Bob’s your uncle, out came a cracking whisky! I knew this blend was going to be outstanding because every whisky I used, from The Glenlivet to Port Charlotte (which we passed through just now), is outstanding in its own right. In my opinion, if one blends exceptional components, one makes an exceptional blend.

I slung a case of mead into my cask, swilled it around for a month, whipped it out, poured the whiskies in and six months later, Bob’s your uncle, out came a cracking whisky!


“As with many of life’s pleasures, such as art, fashion, food and music, whisky is entirely subjective. One drinker’s dream dram is another’s torturous tipple. I knew many people wouldn’t like my blend (which was Blend A, by the way). In fact, I heard it from a few myself...
“Blend A is far too peaty for me,” announced one.
“Blend A is far too sweet, B is more well-rounded,” declared another.
“I held my tongue, knowing that for every person who did not prefer my blend, there could easily be another person who did. I wanted to make a blend that stood out, that reeked of mead and well-integrated peatsmoke. I feel I succeeded.

“Alas, due to my upcoming hemispheric switcheroo, it is not possible for me to continue as defending champion in next year’s Battle of the Blends. So I must, for the time being at least, retire. I plan on returning to the UK in a year or two. When I do, the reigning champion had better watch out…!

“In the meantime, I shall have to continue my distillery tours Down Under. Though not before one final dram of Octomore here on Islay...on Octomore Farm no less.”
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