|Kavalan Soloist Vinho Barrique Single Cask Strength|
Traditionally this category had been dominated single malt Scotch, but last year the Tasmanian Sullivan's Cove French Oak Cask Single Malt took home that prize, and now with the top spot moving to Taiwan, the Scots might need to be worried. In order to be named best in the world, a single malt must first be named best in its region, of which there are 13: Africa, Australia, America, Europe, and Asian get their own regions, as do Ireland and Japan. The rest of the options come from the six whisky regions of Scotland: Highlands, Lowlands, Island, Islay, Campbeltown, and Speyside. So with 6 of the 13 finalists and by far the longest traditions of single malt whisky production, it is easy to see why the Scots are usually the favorites for the award.
Kavalan didn't quite come out of nowhere. In 2012 it won new whisky of the year from Whisky Bible and it also won a gold medal from the San Francisco World Spirits competition. Still, the only whisky distillery on the island of Taiwan, the King Car Distillery, got its start in 2005, so to see it claim the spot as the world's best whisky in 2015 is quite an astonishing accomplishment.
The World Whiskies Awards also have categories for American, Blended Malt, Blended, Canadian, Flavored, Grain, and Pot Still whiskies. Perhaps we'll look at some of those, especially the American category, in next week's Whisk(e)y Wednesday post presented by the Lock & Key Whiskey Bar.