On March 17, 2016 the international leaders of the whisky industry gathered in the stunning Grand Connaught Rooms of Covent Garden to eat, drink and make merry. Why are we interested? Certainly not for the high fashion, the fabulous food, or the even more spectacular drinks. This was a momentous occasion because it was there that the results of the 2016 World Whisky Awards were announced. What delightful blends were determined to be among the worlds best whiskies? Which won the adulation and praise of the most discerning palates in the world? This is vitally important information that anyone who enjoys a fine spirit needs to know! So without further ado we bring you the boldest of the bold, the smoothest of the smooth, and the best of the best. Here are the winners of the 2016 World Whisky Awards.
World’s Best Bourbon – Abraham Bowman Pioneer Spirits Port Finished Bourbon 50%
Americans know bourbon, and this bourbon from the A. Smith Bowman Distillery in historic Fredericksburg, Virginia is no exception. It has a sweet and rich flavor profile, with a wonderfully heady nose. The port finish adds depth of flavor with hints of fruit, and it finishes strong with a strong taste of citrus spice and vanilla. Overall this is a big, bold, and beautiful bourbon which lives up to the American reputation for fine bourbons.
World’s Best Blended Whisky – Suntory Hibiki 21 Years Old
Japan is not normally the place we think of when we talk about whisky. Sake maybe, but not whisky. However the Suntory Hibiki from the Japanese Suntory Group Distillery has been winning awards since 2009 and just keeps getting better and more impressive. Smooth and subtle, this whiskey effortlessly marries a foundation of tannic oak flavors with a kaleidoscope of fruit. You can taste everything from baked apples to orange peel, and even strawberry jam. It is a complex and elegant drink, but surprisingly short. Like the perfect dinner guest, it will amaze you while it is here but will not overstay its welcome. Truly one of the worlds best whiskies.
World’s Best Blended Limited Release – Glen Alba 22 Years Old 40%
Are you a fan of the finer things in life, especially when they won’t break the budget? Then this is the whisky for you. Even though it is produced by the discount UK supermarket chain Lidl, this whisky has been delighting every discerning shopper who is able to find it. Sugar and spice and everything nice, this is a warm, rich, and extraordinarily well-crafted whisky. If you are able find this worlds best whisky available, don’t hesitate! It is a limited release after all, and it would be a crying shame to let this one slip out of the market without giving it a try.
World’s Best Blended Malt – Reference Series III.2 47.5%
Also from the UK, this whisky won bronze in the 2015 World Whisky Awards. Apparently, it just needed another year to reach it’s full potential. In 2016 it came back with a bang, ready to strut its stuff and claim gold. The Reference Series III is woody, but not overpowering, with flavors of oak and cedar. These are complimented nicely by fruity fig and raisin, and it is a well balanced whisky with lots of big bold flavors.
World’s Best Canadian Blended – Gooderham & Worts Four Grain 44.4%
Balanced is a term which is used a lot when describing spirits, but this is likely the most well balanced of all the well balanced whiskies out there. So well balanced in fact, that it is hard to pick out individual flavors from the strong, harmonious whole. There are grain notes along with a lot of floral and fruit, but you will need to sample this worlds best whisky again and again to find all of the different flavors it has in store. That may seem like a huge challenge, but you are surely up to the task.
World’s Best Corn Whiskey – Balcones True Blue 100 Proof 50%
Back to America for this whisky from the state of Texas. It has a base of butterscotch, sandalwood, and spice highlighted with strong fennel notes throughout. This whisky is approachable and smooth, sure to set you at your ease. The Balcones True Blue is a must for those discerning drinkers who enjoy softer edges and subtle flavor over bite.
World’s Best Grain Whisky – The Fuji-Gotemba Distillery, Blender’s Choice 46%
The Japanese are definitely doing something right. Although the producer, Kirin, is better known for their beer, this whisky proves that their stronger offerings should not be ignored. The Fuji-Gotemba Blender’s Choice is a small batch whisky which has been aged 25 years, and is nicely mellowed with complex flavors of vanilla, custard, and oatcake. A homey whisky, and one which will likely only get better and better with age.
World’s Best Flavoured Whisky – Knob Creek Smoked Maple Whisky 45%
This amber colored whisky from Kentucky is the same golden brown as maple syrup, and has the same silky sweet overtones. Caramel, honey, and vanilla flavors are balanced by a hint of smoke and earthy nose. Its smokey smooth finish would be the perfect complement to a nice bowl of vanilla ice cream after dinner. Or could even be served as dessert all by itself.
World’s Best Rye Whisky – Pikesville Straight Rye 55%
The Pikesville Straight Rye Whisky has a subtle and light nose, but a strong spice body which gives way to a nice lingering aftertaste. The Pikesville Straight Rye is as much about the ‘before and after’ as it is about the drink itself. This is definitely a spirit to approach slowly and gently, savoring each lovely sip as you let it seduce you with flavor.
World’s Best Single Malt – Old Pulteney Vintage 1989 46%
As much as I am glad that some of the fashions of my youth are making a comeback, I’m still not sure I would call 1989 “vintage.” That hardly matters though, when this worlds best whisky is so surprisingly complex. From one of the most northern Scottish distilleries, It is both musky and sweet. Lemon and honey flavors pair with a foundation of nutty oak, and buttery floral notes help it go down smooth. The 80’s have never tasted so good.
World’s Best Wheat Whiskey – Bernheim Original – Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey 45%
Bernheim Original uses winter wheat as its primary grain, creating a soft and gentle flavor profile that is as unique as it is refreshing. Vanilla and caramel blend with baking spice to a medium finish. It is a comforting and will warm you down to your toes like a soft blanket. This is one of the worlds best whiskies, and is perfect for sipping on a cool night before a roaring fire.
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