The first round of Scottish Field’s world-famous whisky challenge
Welcome to the first stage in this year’s Scottish Field Whisky Challenge. Now in its 17th year, the Challenge has really established itself as an important barometer for what’s going on in the Scottish whisky industry and its results are eagerly awaited by experts and enthusiasts alike.
One of the reasons for the success of the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge has been its unimpeachable credibility. We only appoint the most respected figures in the whisky world – men and women whose credentials, nose and provenance are impeccable – to be our judges, and this year is no exception.
For the 2017 Challenge we have a fabulous line-up of eight judges, who have used skills built up over a lifetime to bring you the top three whiskies in three categories: under £40, £40-£80 and over £80. As well as the kudos of winning such a prestigious award, the top whisky in each category is automatically entered into the Grand Final at the end of the year, when our full panel of judges get together to choose the Scottish Field Whisky of the Year 2017.
With 63 of Scotland’s top whiskies going head to head – a new record for the Summer Challenge – our judges really did have their work cut out.
This year’s Challenge extends a warm welcome to Vince Fusaro of Luvian’s Bottle Shops in St. Andrews and Cupar who brings over 30 years of industry experience with him to the panel.
What makes this competition so unique and, importantly, so impartial, is the fact that our judges taste the whisky completely blind. With the branding and packaging completely stripped away, only the whisky is left, to be judged solely on its own merits.
As with last year, we asked producers to submit new expressions (since 1 January 2016), which could include blends, grains, malts or single casks. Then, at the Scottish Field offices, the 63 bottles were decanted into 10cl sample bottles with only a number for identification. These were then posted to the eight participating judges for tasting and scoring.
The judges were asked to award each of the 63 whiskies a mark out of five. We then took away the lowest and highest scores and used the remaining marks to produce an average score for each of the expressions. We also asked the judges to provide us with detailed tasting notes.
Once all the judges’ scores were in, we separated the whiskies into their relevant categories to find the first-, second- and third-placed whisky. The top whisky in each category will automatically be entered into our Grand Final at the end of the year. We have also listed the top 10 highest scoring whiskies. Sláinte Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Team
‘ With the branding and packaging completely stripped away, only the whisky is left, to be judged solely on its own merits’