A panel of experts have chosen the best single malt whisky in the world for 2014 – and it comes from a Tasmanian distillery.
Described by one judge as tasting like “honey, vanilla and haystacks”, the Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask becomes the first winner of the biggest award in whisky production to come from the Australian island.
Traditionally the prize has been dominated by distilleries in Scotland or Japan, with one of the two claiming victory every year since the first awards in 2007.
After competing against more than 300 other whiskies, Sullivans Cove director Patrick Maguire told ABC News: “It's probably the world's biggest award you can win for whiskies.
If you can win that, you've made it. There's no doubt about it.
Mr Maguire said the distillery has been winning both local and international awards for a number of years, but the grand prize was likely to put it on the map like never before.
According to the Sullivans Cove website, three bottles from the award-winning barrel (HH0525) are set to be sold at the distillery in Tasmania itself.
Only 516 bottles were ever made, but the distillery said a few “are still floating around Australia”.
Mr Maguire said: “We are all very small producers, we are boutique producers and we have the luxury of being able to tweak things personally.
“So when we are running the still, they are not automatic systems, we actually run it from the heart if you like.
“So we cut our runs, manage our runs on the way it smells, flows, tastes. There is science behind it but we are not running computers that turn things on and off.”
The World Whiskies Awards are run by Whisky Magazine, based in the UK, and include categories for blended and rye whiskies as well as bottle design.
10 best Scotch Whiskies
10 best Scotch Whiskies
1/10 Glen Grant 10-Year-Old
Dry, peaty, and very sophisticated, this Speyside 10-year-old is a steal. Little wonder it’s one of the world’s best-selling single malts and received 95 points in Jim Murray’s most recent Whisky Bible. An easy-going dram, not too heavy on the smoke. £29, timeswhiskyclub.com
2/10 Talisker Storm
Those facing a wet 25 January, should shelter themselves from the elements with a dram of Talisker Storm. The excellent distillery has drawn from its maritime surrounds – on the coast of the Isle of Skye – and has fashioned a rich, smoky drink. £34, waitrose.com
3/10 The Glenrothes 1998 Vintage
The first of the Glenrothes vintages to emerge from the distillery since new Malt Master, Gordon Motion, took over. Some accuse it of being too simple on the palate - caramel and spice feature heavily - but for our money, that’s the charm of this gentle drink. £55, bbr.com
4/10 Ballantine’s 17-Year-Old
Ballantine’s teenager has won a constellation of awards of late including Scotch of the year 2013 in the Whisky Bible. We love this full-bodied blended scotch, with its creamy texture, flavours of vanilla and slight kick in the finish. £44, masterofmalt.com
5/10 Ardbeg Uigeadail
Named for the loch where the celebrated distillery gets its waters, this whisky has been showered with awards. Sweet and silky, it provides the perfect finish to a Burns supper. £60, ocado.com
6/10 Johnnie Walker Black Label 12-Year-Old
For the price, this shows the skill of the blender remarkably well. It combines oomph on the tongue with sophistication and silkiness. There is vanilla, there is peat, and there is raisin flavours, too – together they’re formidable. You can see why the Royal Household favour JW. £29,waitrose.com
7/10 Balblair 2003
This 2003 was matured in old bourbon casks until 2013, when the honeyed liquor was decanted into the beautiful Balblair bottles. On the palate it has a touch of orange, oodles of honey and a good spicy finish. The distillery at its best. £39.99, thedrinkshop.com
8/10 Highland Park 25-Year-Old
A single malt, matured in old sherry and bourbon casks, this is of singular quality. It hits the tongue in a tidal wave of loveliness, rich honey, toffee and white chocolate. For a whisky of its age, it is surprisingly sweet, and all the better for it. £188, thewhiskyexchange.com
9/10 The Glenlivet 12 year old
Very popular and reasonably priced, but don’t think this isn’t a quality whisky. Bring a bottle of this smooth, refreshing and easy-drinking Speyside to a Burns supper, and you’ll be a very popular guest. £25.60, ocado.com
10/10 Glen Garioch 1797
Founder’s Reserve This single malt, from one of the oldest producers in Scotland, reaches maturity in bourbon and sherry casks. The makers claim its robust qualities of flavour, spice and richness make it the perfect accompaniment to a haggis. It tastes very fine on its own too. £29.20, masterofmalt.com
What the judges said about Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask
Ed Bates: “Tunnock’s Caramel wafers. With a touch of smoke. Excellent balance.”
Seáneen Sullivan: “Toasted almonds, grated nutmeg and some fruit toast on the nose. Burnt almonds, autumn fruits stewed with golden raisins. Light, peppery and intriguing.”
Jason Thomson: “Keeping it simple in a very good way. Honey, vanilla and haystacks. All combine with apples and caramel.”
Joseph Cassidy: “Campfire smoke that enriches the malt and wood. A match made in heaven with a smooth buttery feel.”
Jamie Milne: “Great balance, lovely spices come through with time.”