Whiskey of the Year


The 2020 International Whiskey Competition this year was held in Estes Park Colorado instead of Las Vegas due to the covid-19 pandemic and for the safety of the judges and staff. I’m not really sure how that was protecting them, but what a beautiful spot to drink whiskey and hang out for a week!

For the first time in their 11-year history, the whiskey of the Year award Was Won by a woman, Stephanie Macloed, Master Blender for John Dewar & Sons for her double-double, 32 year old blended Scotch which scored 96.4 points – the highest of the entire competition.

The panel of judges was made up of whiskey Spirit beer and wine experts who all blind tasted every submission on an individual basis allowing 8 minutes per whiskey.  The whiskey is scored on a 100 point scale system developed by one of the judges, Sebastian Gavillet. The tasting notes are quite comprehensive and are divided into 15 aroma and flavor profiles.

This particular competition is followed closely and considered to be one of the most professional competitions of its kind in the world because of the blind tasting and the fact that there are only three medals awarded in any one category.

Current Dewar’s master blender Stephanie Macleod got creative with the blending to win Whiskey of the Year. In the four-step process, various malt and grain whiskies come of age, and then like is blended with like. The separate blended whiskies are aged again for about six months. “We then blend the grains and the malts together and put them back into [neutral oak] casks and back into the warehouse,” said Macleod. “Then we put the whiskies into three different types of sherry cask. They then rest in those casks for up to a year”.

The resultant blend from those Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks is described as incredibly smooth, carrying  rich, ripe, treacle notes with a hint of smokiness.

The whiskey is available at Total Wine and retails for about $150.