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Spirits Trophy 2023: The whisky world is so diverse

Whisky
Bourbon
Schottland

Whisky is one of the world's traditional spirits - but the diversity and dynamism in the category has been great for years. This is also shown by the results of the Falstaff Whisky Trophy 2023.

In terms of volume, the situation is clear; Scotland has long been the leader in whisky production, followed by the USA. Scotch is also the firm leader in terms of quality level. It is therefore not surprising that the highest-rated whisky in the Falstaff Trophy 2023 comes from the very north of Scotland: the 21 Year Old Single Malt Whisky from the legendary Highland Park distillery on the Orkneys was awarded a whopping 97 points by the Falstaff tasters.

For the current 2022 release, Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion selected just 14 casks from the distillery's warehouses - the youngest of which was filled in 2000. The single malt resulting from the blending of the casks is a monument to a Scotch of great complexity and harmony. The Highland Park distillery is located on the Orkney Islands off the northernmost tip of Scotland. Their whiskies, like their island home, are characterised by the wild climate, the stormy sea and the Vikings, who settled here over 1,000 years ago and left their mark on the local culture. Nowhere else in the world can you find more whisky tradition than in Scotland - Highland Park was founded in 1798.

But high quality whisky production is no longer the preserve of Scotland alone. The Falstaff jury found whiskies with 95 points further afield than Scotland and the USA, in countries such as Japan and Italy. The Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve from Japanese whisky giant Suntory came out on top. The fact that Japanese whisky scores so highly is no surprise; the Suntory company can look back on a 100-year history and the Yamazaki distillery is a household name among whisky fans worldwide. The Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve was aged in ex-sherry casks and Mizurnara oak casks and then matured in French red wine casks. A soft, velvety and wonderfully aromatic grain brandy that looks back on a long tradition.

The eRètico Italian Single Malt Whisky 7 Years, also rated 95 points, cannot really benefit from tradition yet, as whisky does not yet have a strong presence in South Tyrol, where it comes from. It is produced by the Psenner distillery, a traditional fruit brandy manufacturer that was founded in 1947. Whisky was only started here in 2010 - but with great innovative strength and considerable success. Among other things, the company matures its whisky creations in wooden barrels that were previously filled with grappa, which gives the spirit a very unique aroma. The resulting whisky is not only first-class, but also extremely complex.

Whisky pioneers

While whisky producers are still a rarity in Italy, there are already numerous established producers of the spirit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

94 points each were awarded at the Falstaff Whisky Trophy for The Vogel Baden Single Malt "Eagle" from Vogelbräu from Karlsruhe, the Johnett 2012 Swiss Single Malt Whisky 10 YO from the Etter distillery in Zug, Switzerland, and also for the J.H. Rare Dark Rye Malt from the Haider whisky distillery in the Waldviertel region of Austria.

All three are among the whisky pioneers in their respective countries. Vogelbräu began producing whisky in 2010, Etter in 2007 and the Haider distillery a whole decade earlier, in 1995, making Haider the oldest whisky distillery in Austria. The J.H. Rare Dark Rye Malt, which was awarded 95 points, consists of 100 percent dark rye malt and is a genuine regional product. The Haider distillery uses local wood for maturation and even has its own source for the water used - an important guarantee for the uniqueness of a whisky, even in Scotland.

 

Benjamin Herzog
Benjamin Herzog
Chefredaktion Schweiz
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