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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Who makes the world's best single malt whisky? - Whisk(e)y Wednesday presented by Lock & Key

Kavalan Soloist Vinho Barrique Single Cask Strength
Kavalan Soloist Vinho Barrique Single Cask Strength
Every year since 2007 Whisky Magazine releases the World Whiskies Awards to name the top whiskies in the world. They typically have over 300 entries and go through a multiple-round tasting process to determine the elite sips from around the globe. This year's results came as a shock to many people as a single malt cask strength whisky out of Taiwan called Kavalan Soloist Vinho Barrique took home one of the most coveted prizes: the best single malt whisky in the world for 2015!

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.