Yamazaki 1984 - by Suntory
Malt Maniacs Awards 2006
Tasting Notes (2006)Medal Winners (2006)Award Winners (2006)Editorial Comments (2006)

Needless to say, the old scores and 'medals' won't change - we'll just look if any of the newly
invented awards are relevant here. With 15 gold medal winners this year we gave out more gold
medals than ever before. In fact, in 2006 we handed out more gold medals than in the first three
years combined! Cynical minds might conclude that out standards are slipping, but if those cynical
minds took a look at the full list of medal winners for 2006 they would probably think again...

Still, a few noteworthy whiskies may have missed some of the attention that they might have
otherwise received if the 2006 edition of our competition hadn't been as insanely competitive as
it was. That's why I wanted to take this opportunity to add a few editorial comments of my own
before I get on with the list of 25 awards winners this year.  So... Any surprises in 2006?
 
Yes, I would most certainly say that there were some big surprises this year!

The biggest surprise for most maniacs was probably the impressive medal rain on Japan...
With 96 points our Indian maniac Krishna gave his top score to the 'Non Plus Ultra Award'winner, the Yamazaki 1984/2005
(1 of 3 Japanese whiskies to win gold in 2006). He wrote: 'Fruits, cider, cured Sultanas, Nutmeg... Oh, I can go on describing this'.
Well, I bet you could, Krishna - but that will have to wait. All comments and tasting notes on the medal winners are published
in the A-Z Overview of Medal Winners. First, please allow me to add just a few words to put everything in perspective...

Adelphi
Berry Brothers
Blackadder
Benriach
Glengoyne
Douglas Laing
Diageo
Dewar Rattray
Suntory
Signatory Vintage
Nikka
Wilson & Morgan
Laphroaig
Compass Box
Gordon & MacPhail
La Maison du Whisky
The Whisky Exchange
The Whisky Fair
Bushmills
Jean Boyer
Arran
Edradour
Cooley
Glenmorangie
Bruichladdich
Celtic Whsiky Compagnie
Glenfarclas
Tomintoul
Aberlour
Chieftain's
Alchemist
Glenlivet
Talisker
Sun Favorite
Bunnahabhain
SSMC
Glenrothes
Loch Fyne
Full Proof Holland

Last year's big winners were Glengoyne and Laphroaig but this year's picture is far more complex.
Both did very well again - although I can imagine that there will be some fisticuffs amongst some distillery workers at Glengoyne about who has the best nose. Two of the three special bottles that were selected by the stillmen last year (Duncan's Choice, Ewan's Choice and Ronnie's Choice) won gold medals in the 2005 competition. I'm afraid that the mashmen couldn't quite match that achievement in the 2006 Awards, although Peter's Choice came incredibly close to gold as the second highest scoring silver medal winner (right after yet another Glengoyne, the 21yo 1985 at 53%). So, although Glengoyne missed out on gold this year (no shame if you see what they were up against) they dominated the silver area.

We're not quite sure what to think of the results from Laphroaig.
Laphroaig was one of the big winners at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2005.
This year's results are still very impressive (five silver medals & one bronze) but the 10yo Cask Strength that won gold last year stuck at silver now. Of course, there were some changes in the composition of the 'jury' (peathead Klaus wasn't on it this year) but most of the 2006 jurors were also on the board last year. Granted, the schedule was especially grueling this year but I think we can chalk this one up to 'batch variation'. And let's not forget that two awards went to Islay; the Pressure Cooker Award for the Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength and the Top Peated Dram Award for the Laphroaig 15yo. The Laphroaig 30yo earned a very high score as well (sixth highest scoring silver medal in 2006) but with a 'street price' of more than 300 Euro's it didn't qualify for an award in the 'affordable' category.

Another surprise this year was the massive number of 'oldies' to win gold and thick silver this year. Most maniacs have stopped believing in the 'older is better' myth, but there were some staggering beauties from the 1960's and 1970's in the 2006 competition - and at least one from the 50's. In fact, the gold medal winners this year are almost all 'seniors' - with the exception of the Hanyu 1988/2006 (56,3%, Full Proof Holland, C#9204) and Adelphi 15yo 1991/2006 'Breath of Speyside' (60,2%, Adelphi, C#5642). I guess the people of Adelphi might have been a tad disappointed that this stupendous bottling didn't earn an award in 2006. It was an ASTONISHING dram for a 15yo (winning a very solid gold medal), but in-between high profile entries like the Yamazakis and core ranges of Glenfarclas, Talisker, Laphroaig and Benriach that particular Adelphi bottling didn't manage to pick up an award.

All in all, Benriach did very well the first year they participated in the Malt Maniacs Awards.
A bunch of their bottlings (both official and independent) managed to earn medals in 2006 and the Benriach 37yo 1968/2006 (52%, OB, Hogshead #2712, 157 206 Bottles) earned a big fat gold medal and the Supreme Peated Malt Award. Quite an accomplishment considering the distillery isn't located on Islay and it's definitely not a 'peat monster. The Benriach 11yo 1994/2005 (59,7%, Signatory Vintage, Port Pipe) may have got lost a bit in the MM Awards 2006 violence, but I think I should point out that this is actually a very interesting dram. Four maniacs on this year's jury (Davin, Luc, Bert and yours truly) voted for gold and (although I'd have to admit it's not for everyone) the friendly price makes it a great pick-up.

And that's it for now - please continue to the overview of all award winners...

Sweet drams,

Johannes van den Heuvel
Editor Malt Madness / Malt Maniacs
 
 

PS: Within minutes after publishing the 'best-to-worst list' of medal winners I started to receive the first comments by e-mail. With the exception of the six relatively affordable (and widely available) bottlings in the new daily dram awards section many of this year's award and/or gold medal winners are single cask bottlings or limited editions. That means they are hard to find in some countries - and I suspect some of them are seriously expensive to boot. Several readers were wondering why we selected so many old and rare bottlings for this edition of the awards. Well, we didn't... Just like in the previous years we simply invited all the distilleries, bottlers and stores we know to participate in the competition. Every participant was allowed to send in any bottle(s) they wanted - and some jokers even sent in calvados and liqueur.

Needless to say, none of those won a medal - after all, we're MALT maniacs.
But how about those old grain whiskies then? Erm... Next topic please...

2006 Awards Winners

 
OVERALL WINNER FOR 2006
 

Non-Plus-Ultra Award
(Overall top scoring whisky out of all 2006 MM Awards entries)

Yamazaki 1984/2005
(56%, OB, Suntory, Japan, 70cl)

 

'WHISKY STYLES' AWARDS FOR 2006
 

Supreme Sherry Cask Award
(Best whisky matured exclusively in sherry cask(s)

Glen Grant 1956/2005
(46%, G&M for La Maison du Whisky, France)

Supreme Bourbon Cask Award
(Best whisky matured exclusively in bourbon cask(s)

Clynelish 32yo 1974/2006
(58,6%, The Whisky Fair Germany, Bourbon Casks)

Supreme Warped Cask Award
(Best whisky matured or finished in 'special' cask(s)

Speyside 1991/2006 'Sauternes Finish'
(50%, Celtique Connexion / Celtic Whisky Compangnie, France)

Supreme Peated Malt Award
(Best whisky distilled from peated malt)

Benriach 37yo 1968/2006
(52%, OB, Hogshead #2712, 157 Bottles)

Gentle Giant Award
(Best unpeated, unsherried and unfinished whisky)

Glenlivet 1975/2006
(54%, Berry Brothers, C#10846)

Aeneas Coffey Award
(Best single grain whisky)

Lochside 42yo 1963
(45,2%, DL, The Clan Deny, Grain whisky, C#HH243)

 

'WHISKY REGIONS' AWARDS FOR 2006
 

Speyside Award of Excellence
(Best Speyside single malt whisky)
Macallan 30yo 1976/2006
(45,3%, Adelphi, Cask #2749, 206 Bottles)

Highlands Award of Excellence
(Best Highlands single malt whisky)
Brora 30yo
(56.3%, OB, Bottled 2005, 3000 Bottles)

Islands Award of Excellence
(Best Islands single malt whisky)
Talisker 25yo
(57,2%, OB, Refill casks, Bottled 2005, 15600 Bottles)

Islay Award of Excellence
(Best Islay single malt whisky)
Caol Ila 21yo 1984/2006
(58,5%, Dewar Rattray for 'The Nectar Belgium')

Lowlands Award of Excellence
(Best Lowlands single malt whisky)
Saint Magdalene 23yo 1982/2006
(50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask, 329 Bottles)

Campbeltown Award of Excellence
(Best Campbeltown single malt whisky)
Springbank 36yo 1970/2006
(53,1%, Signatory Vintage, Sherry C#1629, 461 Bottles)

 

'DAILY DRAM' AWARDS FOR 2006
 

Bang-For-Your-Buck Award
(Best performance/price ratio in the 'affordable' area)
Aberlour 10yo
(40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)

Pressure Cooker Award
(Best performance/age ratio in the 'affordable' area)
Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength
(55,7%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)

Internal Combustion Award
(Best performance/ABV ratio in the 'affordable' area)
Talisker 18yo
(45,8%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)

Prime Pure Dram Award
(Best affordable, widely available malt whisky in a 'pure' style)
Bunnahabhain 12yo Second Edition
(40%, OB, Second Edition, Bottled +/- 2006)

Prime Sherried Dram Award
(Best affordable, widely available malt whisky in a 'sherried' style)
Aberlour A'bunadh Batch #15
(59,6%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)

Prime Peaty Dram Award
(Best affordable, widely available malt whisky in a 'peaty' style)
Laphroaig 15yo
(43%, OB, Ref L00994, Bottled +/- 2006)
 

'MOST REMARKABLE' AWARDS FOR 2006
 

Single Starlet Award
(Most exciting new or 'upgraded' release in 2006)
Glenfarclas 15yo
(46%, OB, New labeling, Bottled 2006)

Global Village Award
(Best non-Scottish whisky in 2006)
Yamazaki 25yo
(43%, Suntory OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 75cl)

Multiple Personality Award
(Best blended, vatted or 'undisclosed' whisky in 2006)
Probably Speyside's Finest' 40yo 1965/2006
(50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask)

Dark Horse Award
(Ahead of the pack, off the beaten track in 2006)
Glengoyne 1986/2006 'Peter's Choice'
(51%, OB, Ximenez Butt #433)

Blast from the Past Award
(Best whisky from a long closed distillery in 2006)
Ayrshire (Ladyburn) 30yo 1975/2005
(48,9%, Wilson & Morgan, Ladyburn distillery, Cask #3376)

Love-It-Or-Hate-It Award
(Most contested & debated entry in 2006)
Blackadder 'Smoking Islay' NAS
(55%, Blackadder, Cask ref BA2005/213, Bottled 2005)

 .

(Scroll down for tasting notes and editorial comments on all medal winners)

Gold Medal Winners

Yamazaki 1984/2005 (56%, Suntory OB, Japan, 70cl) - Non-Plus-Ultra Award 2006
Brora 30yo (56.3%, OB, Bottled 2005, 3000 Bts.) - Highlands Award of Excellence 2006
Glen Grant 1956/2005 (46%, G&M for La Maison du Whisky, Refill sherry butt, 459 Bts.) - Supreme Sherry Cask Award 2006
Hanyu 1988/2006 (56,3%, Full Proof Holland, Pancheon / Puncheon C#9204)
Macallan 30yo 1976/2006 (45,3%, Adelphi, C#2749, 206 Bts.) - Speyside Award of Excellence 2006
Benriach 37yo 1968/2006 (52%, OB, Hogshead #2712, 157 Bts.) - Supreme Peated Malt Award 2006
Yamazaki 25yo (43%, Suntory OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 75cl) - Global Village Award 2006
Adelphi 15yo 1991/2006 'Breath of Speyside' (60,2%, Adelphi, C#5642, 615 Bts.)
Longmorn 36yo 1970/2006 (56,1%, The Whisky Exchange - The Single Malts of Scotland, Sherry cask #28, 255 Bts.)
Nikka 20yo 'Yoichi' (52%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan)
Springbank 36yo 1970/2006 (53,1%, Signatory, Sherry C#1629, 461 Bts.) - Campbeltown Award of Excellence 2006
Longmorn 1972 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail Licensed Bottling, Cask #1088)
Glen Grant 1972/2006 (46%, Berry Brothers, Cask #1982)
The Whisky Fair Single Speyside Malt 35yo 1971/2006 (51,4%, The Whisky Fair Germany, Sherry butt, 534 Bts.)
Clynelish 32yo 1974/2006 (58,6%, The Whisky Fair, Bourbon Hogshead, 266 Bts.) - Supreme Bourbon Cask Award 2006

Silver Medal Winners

Glengoyne 21yo 1985 (53%, OB, Single Cask)
Glengoyne 1986/2006 'Peter's Choice' (51%, OB, Pedro Ximenez Butt #433, 603 Bts.) - Dark Horse Award 2006
Caol Ila 21yo 1984/2006 (58,5%, Dewar Rattray for 'The Nectar', C#6266, 251 Bts.) - Islay Award of Excellence 2006
Probably Speyside's Finest 40yo 1965/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, Sherry cask, 539 Bts.) - Multiple Personality Award 2006
Glen Keith 1967/2006 (53%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for La Maison du Whisky Paris, 215 Bts.)
Laphroaig 30yo (43%, OB, Ref LQ0167, Bottled +/- 2006)
Talisker 25yo (57,2%, OB, Refill casks, Bottled 2005, 15600 Bts.) - Islands Award of Excellence 2006
Adelphi 13yo 1992/2006 'Breath of Islay' (57,5%, Adelphi, C#5346, 275 Bts.)
Glenlivet 1975/2006 (54%, Berry Brothers, C#10846) - Gentle Giant Award 2006
Yamazaki 1991/2005 (56%, Suntory OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 70cl)
Glengoyne 36yo 1969 (45,9%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005, SC)
Glenlossie 40yo 1966/2006 (50%, Adelphi, C#3779, 213 Bts.)
Speyside 1991/2006 'Double Mat. Sauternes Finish' (50%, Celtique Connexion, 297 Bts.) - Supreme Warped Cask Award 2006
Benriach 11yo 1994/2005 (59,7%, Signatory, Heavily Peated, Port Pipe Finish, 863 Bts.)
Nikka 1985 'Yoichi' (58%, OB, Warehouse #15, C#250241, Japan)
Glengoyne 1989/2006 'Charlie's Choice' (56%, OB, 1st fill Oloroso Sherry C#1231, 279 Bts.)
Blackadder Smoking Islay NAS (55%, Blackadder, Cask ref BA2005/213, Bottled 2005) - Love-It-Or-Hate-It-Award Award 2006
Talimburg 32yo 1972/2005 (45,2%, The Whisky Fair, Hogshead #1568, Rum finish, 146 Bts.)
Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength (55,7%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006) - Pressure Cooker Award 2006
Port Ellen 26yo 1979/2005 (56,9%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry C#2015, 497 Bts.)
Secret Stills 'Oldest distillery on ... Loch Indaal' 1989/2006 (45%, G&M, Distillery #4, 650 Bts.)
Brora 24yo 1981/2006 (59,3%, Signatory Vintage, Sherry C#1517, 597 Bts.)
Talisker 18yo (45,8%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006) - Internal Combustion Award 2006
Caol Ila 26yo 1979/2006 (62,8%, Signatory Vintage, Hogshead #05/848, 217 Bts.)
Nikka 15yo 'Yoichi' (45%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan)
Laphroaig 15yo (43%, OB, Ref L00994, Bottled +/- 2006) - Prime Peaty Dram Award 2006
Ardbeg 'Still Young' 1998/2006 (56,2%, OB, 2nd Release)
Clynelish 32yo 1972/2005 (49,9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead #15619, 226 Bts.)
Lochside 42yo 1963 (45,2%, Douglas Laing, The Clan Deny, Grain whisky, C#HH243) - Aeneas Coffey Award 2006
Caol Ila 1979/2006 (61,8%, Jean Boyer, Best Cask of Scotland Collection)
Port Ellen 24yo 1978/2002 '2nd Release' (54.3%, OB, 12000 Bts.)
Aberlour A'bunadh Batch #15 (59,6%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006) - Prime Sherried Dram Award 2006
Benriach 26yo 1980/2006 (55%, OB, New oak C#2535, 238 Bts.)
Bunnahabhain 27yo 1978/2006 (55,6%, Signatory, Sherry C#2542, 509 Bts.)
Benriach 29yo 1976/2006 (56%, OB, Hogshead #8084, 194 Bts.)
Blairfindy 30yo 1976/2006 (49,4%, Blackadder RC, Sherry C#4, 296 Bts.)
Caol Ila 15yo 1990/2005 (55%, Wilson & Morgan, C#4709/4710, 600 Bts.)
Nikka 21yo 'Taketsuru' (43%, OB, Vatted malt, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan)
Port Ellen 23yo 1983/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask, 716 Bts.)
Benriach 21yo 1984/2006 (55%, OB, Oloroso Sherry C#2712, 658 Bts.)
Caol Ila 1994/2005 (58,2%, Gordon & MacPhail Cask, First fill sherry butts #12423 & 12424)
Clynelish 33yo 1973/2006 (54,3%, Prestonfield, C#8912, 405 Bts.)
Highland 1993/2006 'Monbazillac Finish' (46%, Celtique Connexion, Bourbon & Monbazillac, 365 Bts.)
Lochnaggar 28yo 1977/2005 (58,5%, Blackadder RC, Hogshead #310, 260 Bts.)
Caol Ila 1995/2006 (58,2%, Jean Boyer, Best Cask of Scotland Collection, 300 Bts.)
Glenfarclas 15yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006) - Single Starlet Award 2006
Talisker 25yo (57,8%, OB, Refill Casks, Bottled 2004, Limited Edition of 21000 Bts.)
Carsebridge 1965/2006 (46%, Berry Bros, Rare Reserve, Single Grain)
Ardbeg NAS 'Airigh Nam Beist' (46%, OB, Distilled 1990)
Caol Ila 15yo 1991/2006 (56,7%,  Dewar Rattray, bourbon C#743, 315 Bts.)
Lagavulin 16yo (43%, OB, 'Port Ellen', Bottled +/- 2006)
Blairfindy 40yo 1965/2006 (51,7%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry C#1850, 194 Bts.)
Caol Ila 1996/2006 (57%, Berry Brothers)
Glencadam 30yo 1975/2006 (54,4%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon C#7588, 216 Bts.)
Convalmore 28yo 1977/2005 (57,9%, OB, 3900 Bts.)
Tamdhu 15yo 1991 (60%, Adelphi, C#1955, 257 Bts.)
Bushmills 1993 (56,5%, OB for La Maison du Whisky Paris, Bourbon C#298, Ireland)
Caol Ila 1993/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan)
Caol Ila 25yo 1979/2005 (58,4%, OB)
Laphroaig NAS 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, Ref M011795, Bottled +/- 2006)
Glencadam 15yo 1989/2005 (58%, Signatory Vintage, Sherry C#6014, 578 Bts.)
Ayrshire 30yo 1975/2005 (48,9%, Wilson & Morgan, Ladyburn distillery, C#3376, 223 Bts.) - Blast from the Past Award 2006
Bowmore 15yo 1990/2006 (53,1%, Spirit Safe, Hogshead #3351, 270 Bts.)
Bowmore 1991/2005 (59,6%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, C#575)
Glenlivet 1974/2006 (46%, Berry Bros, C#5203)
Blair Athol 15yo 1990/2006 (61,4%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Bodega sherry C#7161, 483 Bts.)
Loch Fyne 'The Living Cask' (59%, Loch Fyne, Bottled September 2003, 300 Bts.)
Clynelish 11yo 1994/2005 (58,9%, The Whisky Exchange - The Single Malts of Scotland, Sherry C#4011, 367 Bts.)
Benriach 30yo (50%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Laphroaig 1996/2006 (55,7%, Whisky Doris, Bourbon C#5366, 120 Bts.)
Wilson & Morgan 1997/2005 'House Malt' (43%, Wilson & Morgan, C#8586-8589)
Nikka 1989/2006 'Miyagikyo' (58%, OB, Warehouse #24, C#108645, Japan)

Cardhu 22yo 1982/2005 (57,8%, OB, 3600 Bts.)
Glenglassaugh 40yo 1965 (46,7%, The Whisky Fair, Fino Sherry butt, 361 Bts.)
Glen Scotia 1999/2006 'Heavily Peated' (52,7%, OB for The Whisky Fair, C#1999/541+542)
Tomintoul 38yo 1967/2005 (49,2%, Adelphi, Cask #4485)
Bruichladdich NAS '3D3' (46%, OB, The Norrie Campbell Tribute, 3rd Edition)
Nikka 15yo 'Miyagikyo' (45%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan)
Glenfiddich 32yo 1974/2006 (47,3%, OB for La Maison du Whisky Paris, C#10260)
The Ileach NAS (40%, OB, Islay single malt, Bottled +/- 2006)
Clynelish 1992/2005 (46%, Berry Bros, C#7168)
Compass Box NAS 'The Peat Monster' (46%, Compass Box, Vatted Malt, Bottled 2006)
The Glenlivet 16yo 'Nàdurra' (57,2%, OB, Bottled 6/2006, Batch #0606A)
Glengoyne 29yo 1977 (50,7%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Single Islay Malt 10yo (52,6%, G&M for Bar Metro Milan, Bottled 2004)
Yamazaki 18yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 75cl)
Glencadam 20yo 1985/2005 (54,2%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 306 Bts.)
Laphroaig 10yo (40%, OB, Ref M00392, Bottled +/- 2006)
Macallan 25yo 1981/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 357 Bts.)
Inchgower 25yo 1980/2006 (53,2%,  Dewar Rattray, Sherry C#14161, 486 Bts.)
Talisker 1992 (58,8%, Jean Boyer One Shot Collection)
Ballechin #1 NAS (46%, OB SigV, Burgundy matured, 6000 Bts.)
Connemara NAS Cask Strength (58,8%, OB, Peated single malt, Ireland)
Glenugie 22yo 1981/2004 (52,5%, Chieftain's Choice, Refill Sherry Butt, C#5134, 654 Bts.)
Highland Park 28yo 1978/2006 (54,8%, Blackadder RC, Sherry C#4212, 328 Bts.)
Macallan 14yo 1991/2005 (46%, The Alchemist)
Caol Ila 12yo 1992/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 388 Bts.)
Longrow 13yo 1993 (57,1%, OB, MacMhuirich, Currie & Wilkinson, C#635)
Tomintoul 27yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Auchroisk 26yo 1979/2006 (56,7%, Signatory Vintage, Sherry C#25427, 592 Bts.)
Benriach 25yo (50%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Benrinnes 1993/2006 (57,9%, Jean Boyer, Best Cask of Scotland Collection, Sherry cask)
Cragganmore 20yo 1985/2006 (54,9%, Signatory Vintage, Hogshead #1877, 242 Bts.)
Glen Scotia 14yo 1991 (61,6%, Adelphi, C#1071, 255 Bts.)
Hakushu 12yo (43%, OB, Suntory, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 70cl)
Highland Park 1992/2006 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Refill sherry cask)
Macallan 1991/2006 (56,4%, Jean Boyer, Best Cask of Scotland Collection, Sherry cask)
Craigellachie 16yo 1989/2006 (54,7%,  Dewar Rattray, Bourbon C#3881, 320 Bts.)
Hakushu 18yo (43%, OB, Suntory, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 70cl)
Adelphi 20yo 1985/XXXX 'Breath of the Highlands' (54,8%, Adelphi, C#1065, 176 Bts.)
Compass Box NAS 'Eleuthera' (46%, Compass Box, Vatted malt, Bottled +/- 2006)
Bunnahabhain 12yo (40%, OB, Second Edition, Bottled +/- 2006) - Prime Pure Dram Award 2006
Saint Magdalene 23yo 1982/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 329 Bts.) - Lowlands Award of Excellence 2006
Glenugie 27yo 1977/2005 (46,7%, Signatory Vintage, Hogshead #5506, 220 Bts.)
Highland Park 15yo (46%, The Alchemist, Bottled +/- 2006)
Benriach 10yo 'Curiositas' Peated Malt (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Girvan 1989/2006 (46%, Berry Bros, C#110634 & 110635, Single grain)
Glengoyne 1991/2006 'Jim's Choice' (57%, OB, American oak sherry butt #1083, 693 Bts.)
Rosebank 14yo 1991/2006 (46%, TWE The Single Malts of Scotland, C#2024, 305 Bts.)
Peat Reek NAS (46%, Blackadder, Bottled 2005, Cask ref BA10573)
Glenfarclas 25yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Bruichladdich 'Fifteen' 2nd Edition (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006
Chieftain's 'The Cigar Malt' Speyside 12yo 1992/2005 (51,5%, Chieftain's Choice, 900 Bts.)
Linkwood 15yo (43%, G&M Licensed bottling, Bottled +/- 2006)
The Glenlivet 21yo 'Archive' (43%, OB, Batch 40174, Bottled +/- 2006)
Edradour 23yo 1983/2006 Port Finish (52,1%, Signatory Vintage, C#06/0554, 743 Bts.)
Single Islay Malt 10yo 1992/2003 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Bar Metro Milan)
Deanston 11yo 1994/2006 (46%, Douglas Laing McGibbon's Provenance, Spring/Summer)
Arran NAS 'Lepanto PX Brandy Cask from Gonzales Byass Finish' (59,4%, OB, Bottled 2006)
Yamazaki 12yo (43%, OB, Suntory, Japan, 75cl, Bottled +/- 2006)
Aberlour 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006) - Bang-For-Your-Buck Award 2006
Connemara NAS (40%, OB, Peated single malt, Ireland)
Glenmorangie NAS 'Artisan Cask' (46%, OB, First fill hogshead, US white oak, 50cl)
Glenrothes 1985/2005 (43%, OB)
Rosebank 1990/2005 (46%, Berry Brothers, C#1518/1519/1520)
Rosebank 1990/2006 (61,1%, Gordon & MacPhail Cask, Refill Sherry Butts #1605 & 1606)
Clynelish 1997/2006 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Cask of Scotland Collection, Re-coopered Hogsheads)
Nikka 17yo 'Taketsuru' (43%, OB, Japan, Vatted malt)
Talisker NAS '175th Anniversary' (45,8%, OB, Bottled 2005)
Arran 10yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Arran NAS '100° Proof' (57%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Glenmorangie 30yo (44,3%, OB, 4548 Bottles, bottled 2004)
Bruichladdich 12yo (46%, OB, Second Edition, Bottled +/- 2006)
Glenmorangie 18yo (43%, OB)
Tomintoul 16yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Compass Box NAS 'Hedonism' (43%, Compass Box, Vatted Grain, Bottled 2006)
Glenfarclas 21yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Tyrconnell NAS (40%, OB, Single Malt, Ireland)
Edradour 10yo Côtes de Provence Finish (58,8%, Signatory Vintage, 'Straight from the Cask')

Bronze Medal Winners
2006 Medal Winners
All 2006 Winners (A-Z)

Aberlour A'bunadh Batch #15 (59,6%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005)
TOP SHERRIED DRAM AWARD 2006   Oddly enough Aberlour never submitted their A'bunadh for our Awards.
Odd, because if they had checked the matrix or the monitor they would have seen that most maniacs consistently scored earlier batches in the upper 80's. So, this silver medal is no surprise. In fact, Davin, Krishna, Peter and Craig all felt it deserved a gold medal. My notes say: 'Rich & sweet. Polished. Right up my alley, a sherry monster. Some water unlocked the organics together with a touch of liquorice. Loads of wood on the palate, along with fruits. Highly recommendable in my book.' Davin wrote: 'Beautifully balanced sherry and licorice.  Yummy, yummy, yummy.'

Adelphi 13yo 1992/2006 'Breath of Islay' (57,5%, Adelphi, C#5346, 275 Bts.)
Olivier, Peter and Ho-cheng were ready to go for gold on this one, but nine others felt that silver was enough.
I classified this as 'a gentle peat monster' and thought I found some similarities with another Awards entry that turned out to be a Caol Ila. Ho-cheng wrote: 'Beautiful fruity and smoky one. Well balanced.' Indeed - and it really performed well for its relatively tender age. Craig wrote: 'Another solid Islay. Ointment, liniment, lime, pine, bbq hotplate then tar and rubber- then peanuts and fresh lime juice. Syrup, tar rubber and some bitter citrus and burnt meat. Finish is more of the same- tar, rubber, cold fireplace and some charry metal. Has to be Ardbeg or Caol Ila or a peated Bruichladdich.'

Adelphi 15yo 1991/2006 'Breath of Speyside' (60,2%, Adelphi, C#5642, 615 Bts.)
With 7 votes for silver and 5 for gold this entry still made it to an average of gold. Four of the silver voters did so for the thickest medal possible: 89 points. Luc was one of those four jurors and wrote about the nose: 'Balsamic vinegar sherry nose, calvados apples, sour apples, caramel sauce, some toffee, brown burning sugar, smells like a Calvados, brown apple skin, the sherry is really clean, the Mon-Chérie is underneath, nicely melted.' I voted for gold and wrote (among other things): 'Hoolala! Beautiful! A sweet & fruity sherry monster. Tea? A tad rubbery? Incredibly interesting. Whiff of menthol or tiger balm. Leather, smoke & tannins on the palate. Quite extreme'. Probably the most affordable gold medal winner ever!

Adelphi 20yo 1985 'Breath of the Highlands' (54,8%, Adelphi, C#1065, 176 Bts.)
With nine nominations for bronze the medal is as solid as they come. There were just three notable exceptions; while Luc and Bert (who have 'a system') didn't think it was medal material Ho-cheng voted for silver. He wrote: 'Vanilla, citrus, fresh and robust, Very crispy feel'. My own notes say: 'Relatively restrained nose, but very pleasant with deep fruits on the palate. Sweet & solid. Loads of wood - but not too much. This one earns most points on the palate. The nose isn't too complex or expressive, but the balance on the palate and the mouth feel are great.'  At the end of the day, the oldest of the three 'Breath' bottlings from Adelphi that won medals received the lowest (but still respectable) average score.

Aberlour 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
BANG FOR YOUR BUCK AWARD 2006  This 'standard' expression managed to beat quite a few 'premium' bottlings that were submitted this year. Eight maniacs felt this was 'medal material' and Craig, Peter & Bert even voted for silver. It's nice to see that in these harsh times, some of my old favorite sherry treats from the 1990's are still going strong. Craig wrote: 'Toffee, polished wood, oak, tobacco, leather, sweetly oaky rich sherry toffee and cream in palate. Orange zest, nut skins and orange bitters in finish. Speyside - maybe a Macallan.'  Not quite, Craig - but for everybody living in parts of the world that only get 'Fine Oak' Macallans are available this is a pretty good alternative for the late great 12yo.

Ardbeg NAS 'Airigh Nam Beist' (46%, OB, Distilled 1990)
Craig was the only member of the jury not to nominate this for a medal, but with 79 points he came as close as possible. He wrote: 'Clean fruit and peat - palate has sour citrus and some bitterness, OK but nothing special'. Well, the opinions about that were divided... Serge voted for gold, as well as Ho-cheng who wrote: 'Fruity and sweet peaty malt. Thick body. Finished long and well.' I was fairly impressed as well and joined in the majority vote of six silver medals. My notes on this malt say: 'A polished Islay malt. Light and pleasant peat in the nose with more organics later on. This one grew on me over time. Dry and leathery on the palate - a smoker's whisky? It needs time but it's worth the wait.'

Ardbeg 'Still Young' 1998/2006 (56,2%, OB, 2nd Release)
Scores for this Ardbeg varied a lot (two votes for gold, five for silver and six for bronze) but at least everybody agreed that it deserved a medal. Krishna later admitted that his score of 93 points may have been just a tad generous - when he tried the same whisky in Vienna when he just arrived for the awards dramming he gave it 88 points. Craig wrote: 'Sweet peat and green notes (nettles, ferns, moss) then ointment smoked bacon, tar and carbolic. Big tar and white rubber in palate then green (ferns and resin) notes in back palate. Might be Laphroaig, Ardbeg or vatting.'
Quite right Craig - this was an Ardbeg that landed on the good side of bronze...

Arran 10yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Interestingly enough, this standard expression received the same average score as the NAS 100 Proof version. The 'standard deviation' was much less though, with this one receiving six votes for bronze and three for silver. Just like all other jurors that voted 'no', Craig came very close to bronze with 79 points. He wrote: 'Solidly fruity with tinned pineapple syrup dominant. Sweet and syruppy palate with nutmeal, toffee and quite unctuous. Oaky and nutty, with lots of bitter metal in tail. Nose is bronze but rest of package is not as good'. Be that as it may, the young Arran distillery has finally enough mature stocks to deliver a medal-winning 'standard' expression. Three cheers for Arran!

Arran NAS '100° Proof' (57%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Davin's comments for this recent release were short and sweet; 'Real sippin' whisky - 89 points'.
I'm afraid that's the top score it got in the competition, but it received enough support for a bronze medal.
Serge wrote: 'Nose: strong, powerful, grainy and rather mashy at first nosing. Quite some vanilla crème, mashed potatoes, cereals. Faints hints of baby vomit (that's not negative), yoghurt sauce … nicely flowery (daisies, hints of lilies of the valley). Notes of sorrel and cider apples, a little mead and a slight farminess. As close to 'raw whisky' as it can get but certainly better than most of the crazy 'aromatised' versions. … It's good but I like the new regular 10yo a little better.'

Arran NAS 'Lepanto PX Finish' (59,4%, OB, Bottled 2006, 705 Bts.)
Arran has joined the brigade of distilleries that offers a wide range of relatively young 'finished' whiskies.
With some of the maniacs being devoted 'anti-finishing fundamentalists' it took balls to submit a finished whisky to the MM Awards, but this Gonzales Byass Brandy Finish made it. In fact, Peter voted for gold and it received three votes for silver as well - including 86 points from Craig. His notes say: 'Old & classy but a spirit bite in the nose and palate and bitterness in the tail take points off.  Almost certainly 20+ years and interesting but not great'.
Erm... Considering Arran only started distilling in 1995, it can't quite be over 20 years old, Craig ;-)

Auchroisk 26yo 1979/2006 (56,7%, Signatory, Sherry C#25427, 592 Bts.)
This Auchroisk from Signatory Vintage didn't convince all maniacs, but thanks to four votes for silver and one for gold it still ends up with an average of bronze. Krishna was the golden boy this time and wrote: 'It is like medicine, herbal. Since I found the Indian overripe guava fruit for the first time in a malt I vote for gold (91 points)'. I personally gave it 84 points (almost silver) and wrote: 'A little weird… Hints of smoke. Something vaguely fruity. Opens up with time. More complexity after time when the sherried character becomes more obvious. Not quite silver in my book, though...'
Serge wrote: 'Bold notes of torrefaction, dry tealeaves and nougat, then quite some rum and raisins'.

Ayrshire 30yo 1975/2005 (48,9%, Wilson & Morgan, C#3376, 223 Bts.)
BLAST FROM THE PAST AWARD 2006   Seldom seen; a bottling from the long extinct Ladyburn distillery!
Luc gave it no less than 93 points (one of his highest scores) and wrote: 'A lovely dram, really a pleasure'.
Ho-cheng also voted for gold (just like Bert) and wrote: 'Vanilla & apple, Minty & malty. Creamy palate. Fruity one'.
I'm a fan of this bottling as well, although under the strain of the competition tasting by initial (disclosed) score of
90 points became a very solid (blind) 89 points. I wrote: 'Phew. This is pretty unique. Very old (rotting?) leather in the
nose. Oil on the palate. Seems not terribly expressive at first but shows a lot of subtle complexities if you pay attention.'

Ballechin #1 NAS (46%, Signatory Vintage, Burgundy matured, 6000 Bts.)
The 'magic formula' that we used to translate the individual scores into medals pushed this one just outside of silver territory - although some would argue that it actually deserved silver with seven votes for silver and even one for gold. However, most of the maniacs that didn't like it actually disliked it quite a bit. Scores in the 60's from Ho-cheng and Peter dragged it into bronze territory. Peter wrote: 'Extreme rubber' while at the other end of the love spectrum Krishna (the only one to vote for gold) wrote: 'Oh, this is an excellent stuff revealing itself in instalments'.
Well, this is clearly a love-it-or-hate-it whisky...

Benriach 10yo 'Curiositas' Peated Malt (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
With four votes for silver and two for gold this was indeed a contender for a silver medal for a while.
Unfortunately Davin, Luc and Robert all ranked it as 'below average', pulling it down to an average of bronze.
Both votes for gold came from Asia; Ho-cheng and Krishna. It was actually the first gold medal candidate that Krishna encountered during his blind tastings. He wrote: 'Peat and syrup, Vitamin B complex, sweet licorice, organics in the rear. Port Ellen or Laphroaig?'. Not quite, Krishna, but although this particular expression didn't reach gold a lot of Benriachs actually did. Many of them were a bit older, but as far as young Benriachs go we were especially pleased with...

Benriach 11yo 1994/2005 (59,7%, Signatory Vintage, Port Pipe Finish)
(Heavily peated, Cask #05/355/1, 863 Bottles)  Some maniacs are 'allergic' to finishes and generally speaking there were quite a few finished whiskies that didn't earn a medal at all this year. However, this was an exception to the rule. Davin gave it 90 points and wrote: 'Islay delight or damn good Islay wanna be'. Indeed! I have to admit I voted for gold as well (91) - and so did Luc and Bert. With seven more votes for silver this earns a very solid medal. All in all the peat monsters didn't do quite as well as in previous years (are our palates developing?) but on the overall hit list this one beat the latest batch of the Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength - one of the big competition winners of last year.

Benriach 21yo 1984/2006 (55%, OB, Oloroso Sherry C#2712, 658 Bts.)
Peter found 'ozone' in this whisky and I noticed that comment in more tasting notes this year. A trend?
Davin (who voted for a big fat gold medal with 92 points) was his usual concise self and wrote: 'Beautifully integrated nose - sherry, malt and peat smoke'. Craig wasn't quite as impressed but still managed to write a few lovely tasting notes of his own; 'Sour leafiness, some sweet berries, some blackberry vine, ointment and raspberry - might be a wine finish. Palate is syruppy with sour leaves and leather, some peat and ointment. finish has some burning leaves, tar and a reprise of sour berries - a port finish?  Has some artificial berry sweetness in the nose - but pleasant enough overall'.

Benriach 25yo (50%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Those Belgians certainly love Benriach. Luc nominated five of the Benriachs that were submitted this year for a gold medal (Bert went for four) but in this particular case Luc was the only one to vote for gold. Davin wrote: 'I probably should have rated this lower but I love dill pickles'. Well, rest assured that your score of 82 points was actually close to the overall average of 83 points, Davin. I guess this is a perfect illustration of the adagium that older isn't neccessarily better - three younger expressions (the 10yo and 21yo OB's and the 11yo Port pipe finish from Signatory) earned a higher average score than this 25yo. But then again this wasn't the only fairly disappointing 25yo OB this year...

Benriach 26yo 1980/2006 (55%, OB, New oak C#2535, 238 Bts.)
Davin found berries in this malt - Craig found those in the 21yo - and described it as 'Oddly wonderful'.
As such, he voted for gold, together with Peter and Luc, I must admit I wasn't quite as enthusiastic but still liked it; 'Soft and sweetish nose at first. Very pleasant but not terribly expressive. Starts sweet on the palate as well, with a lovely sherried center slowly evolving. Silver - but not the upper 80's. A tad too woody for my tastes - not the best wood'. You want a second opinion?. OK, how about Craig's: 'Nose starts nice (oaky, nutty vanilla toffee) but gets rattier and oily - palate is very young and aggressive - big oaky finish with Speyside metal - bitey with aggressive spirit'. I guess it's the new oak...

Benriach 29yo 1976/2006 (56%, OB, Hogshead #8084, 194 Bts.)
Blind tasting can give you the craziest ideas. Luc guessed this was an Arran. Not quite, Luc - when this was distilled Arran wasn't even built yet ;-)  This one received four votes for gold. Together with Peter, Craig was the only maniac NOT to nominate this for a medal. He wrote: 'Woody with cedar, straw, oak, polished wood and some tinned pineapple. Palate has lots of sour grass, resin and herbs. Back palate is very sour and finish is more soursobs, sour wood and cream toffee. Has to be Irish and more likely a potstill than a single malt. Has those green grassy unmalted grain notes'.
Oh, Craig.... Irish? It's always dangerous to write down your guesses - they might come back to haunt you.

Benriach 30yo (50%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Confronted with this one Ho-cheng wrote: 'Sherry influence, plum, cream chocolate, fishery, spicy, unusual style. Elegant'. Well, elegant it may be - but that's not always everything the maniacs look for in a malt. I couldn't help but notice that the 26yo and 29yo official single cask bottlings earned higher scores. Nevertheless, I loved it to the tune of 88 points and wrote: 'Rich and polished. Whiffs of peat, diesel and organics lurking in the background. Tea? Lapsang Souchong. Very refined, deep fruitiness on the palate. Beautiful! Almost like a 'liquid jam'. Touch of wood and some leather as well - just enough to add to the balance. The wood grows a little too dominant towards the finish for me, though'.

Benriach 37yo 1968/2006 (52%, OB, Hogshead #2712, 157 Bts.)
SUPREME PEATED MALT AWARD 2006   No less than 8 maniacs nominated the oldest Benriach in the competition for gold. I gave it a whopping 93 points and wrote: 'Woody, Polished. Some strange fruits. Cassis. Strawberry jam? Faintest hint of peat? Clynelish? Relatively subtle in the nose but I like it. The nose is a tad light for my tastes but it's definitely hugely enjoyable. Black currants? Quite unusial how the 'cassis' dominates. Over time more organics in the nose. Very interesting. The tannins are lovely. Quite unique. Reached the 90's after I gave it enough time (and water!). Great stuff...'. Hey... I found 'jam' in the 30yo OB as well. Could that perhaps be a 'marker' for old Benriachs?

Benrinnes 1993/2006 (57,9%, Jean Boyer, BCoSC, Sherry cask)
(Best Cask of Scotland Collection). Was this actually 'the best cask of Scotland' - or at least one of them?
Well, not according to Peter who gave it only 50 points! Craig, Luc and Robert didn't see this as medal material either, but fortunately the rest of the jury disagreed. In fact, Ho-cheng's fancy was particularly tickled. He voted for a gold medal and wrote: 'Very nice nose, nutty with white chocolate. Highland style. Very strong in palate'. Craig found other interesting traits here: 'Initially sweet and woody but gets dirtier - sour nectarines. Palate has a woody bite and sour fruit then a strange metallic fruit fizziness. Finish is woody and tingly. Something suplhurry in the in the back palate'.

Blair Athol 15yo 1990/2006 (61,4%, Blackadder Raw Cask, C#7161, 483 Bts.)
(First fill bodega sherry cask #7161, 483 Bts.)  All Davin wrote was: 'Rich and hot and sweet and delicious'.
He went for a score of 91 points - just like Bert. Like five others I voted for silver myself, writing: 'Quite subtle at first. Big, sweet and fruity on the palate - and quite hot. Clear and present tannins. It gradually climbed to 88 points. A splash of water dulled the nose at first, but after a minute some extra layers emerged. Rubber. Too bad there's something perfumy or soapy on the palate keeping it from the 90's'. Craig voted for silver as well and wrote: 'Very very interesting - probably of venerable age and at cask strength. Spirit gets a tad bit aggressive in the nose - but a mighty dram for all that'.

Blairfindy 30yo 1976/2006 (49,4%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry C#4)
(Sherry Cask #4, 296 Bottles) Luc - who scored this the lowest of all jurors - wrote on the nose: 'Nice fine kinda leathery sherry, a bit tired smell, rum-nut-chocolate but, shift downwards, wet dog fur, wet hay, humus, odd nature aroma's'. His notes for the taste say: 'Meaty kinda taste with a bitter undertone, a bit of the bad sherry kinda taste here, the wet dog animal notes come thru quite heavily, a tad too dirty for my palate. 71 points'. Really, Luc? But... Isn't your nickname 'Mister Glenfarclas'? And isn't Blairfindy a code name for Glenfarclas? Fortunately, with seven votes for silver (and two for gold) this one landed comfortably in 'silver' territory. Personally, I actually preferred it over the 40yo expression.

Blairfindy 40yo 1965/2006 (51,7%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry C#1850)
(Sherry Cask #1850, 194 Bottles)  Luc Timmermans (Mr. Glenfarclas) was convinced he tasted a Benriach.
Afraid not, Luc - a Glenfarclas by any other name... Interestingly enough, this ended up just a notch below Blackadder's 30yo expression on our overall 'Hit List'. So, if you're looking for 'Bang For Your Buck' that's probably a better alternative. However, you don't find a lot of 40yo whiskies these days - especially ones that were not taken over by the wood.
Craig wrote: 'Toffee nougat, bit of wood prickle. Sweet wood, cream and cherry ripe. Palate is sweet and sour with good weight - quite unctuous. Cherries, nutskins, metal tingle, cream and then woody metallic. Pretty clean and balanced package'.

Bowmore 15yo 1990/2006 (53,1%, Spirit Safe, Hogshead #3351, 270 Bts.)
Comparing the results for the two Bowmores that were submitted this year is a very interesting exercise.
While the scores for the 1991 SSMC bottling were 'all over the place' (3 x gold, 2 x silver and 6 x bronze) this Spirit Safe bottling received nine votes for silver. Craig wrote: 'Cream and light peat. A whiff of ozone then some tequila like sour grass fresh fruit (apples & pears) and cream. Slightly sour tropical fruit, zingy citrus cream and metal but very quick - a ghost palate. Bitter lemon-oak, white rubber and a hint of metal in a fading finish - very light - almost a gin and tonic'.
Davin wrote: 'If this had more colour I'd swear it was a finish. It's strange, the smoke comes and goes'.

Bowmore 1991/2005 (59,6%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, C#575)
Luc found this Bowmore 'too bizar' but Serge absolutely loved it with a 'gold' score of 94 points.
And he kept going on and on and on about it too. He wrote: 'Nose: lots of power, really explosive, starting on gingerbread, leather and pipe tobacco. Hugely complex... Superb notes of espresso coffee, balsamic vinegar, bitter caramel, wine and meat sauce, cocoa. Goes on with hints of game… Really beautiful and really special. With water: gets a bit farmier as often, with notes of 'good' manure, horse stable, new plastic (which is nice here), brand new car… And also lots of clove ... gingerbread and leather. Amazing. A fabulous whisky in my books ... and one that will put you in a good mood just like that'.

Brora 24yo 1981/2006 (59,3%, Signatory, Sherry C#1517, 597 Bts.)
With six votes for silver, three for bronze and three for gold this lands firmly in the middle of silver territory.
Together with Krishna and Luc, Ho-cheng voted for gold. He wrote: 'Start fruit? Unbelievable. Very nice and reminds you of some old memories'. Of course, Serge liked it too, writing 'This one is very demonstrative right at first nosing, starting a Clynelishesque waxiness plus lots of fruits (mostly bitter oranges), getting then rather farmy (wet hay, grain barn). Truly superb. Then we have something resinous coming through, with notes of pine resin and tiger balm… And then fresh apricots and almonds. Again, superb. Very good – there wasn't only peat in Brora's life!'. And that's just on the nose...

Brora 30yo (56.3%, OB, Bottled 2005, 3000 Bts.)
HIGHLANDS AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 2006  Two earlier releases of Brora 30yo (2003 & '04) both won gold.
Now this third release makes it a hat trick... This one received nine votes for gold, making it the second highest scoring whisky of the 2006 Awards. Yes, we obviously all love this expression of Brora. Well, except for Craig who gave it just 73 points and stands by his score to this day. Well, I guess that's something we agree to disagree on. I wrote: 'Smooth nose that suggests loads of hidden complexities. Hint of coffee? Leathery. The faintest hint of baby vomit at first, but that vanishes soon. Subtle peat & organics. Fruits as well. Gold! A lovely package; well integrated and entertaining'.

Bruichladdich 12yo (46%, OB, Second Edition, Bottled +/- 2006)
It's no secret that Serge is one of the biggest Bruichladdich supporters amongst the maniacs. However, in this particular case the only juror to vote for gold was Bert. This Laddie received one vote for silver as well (Krishna) but the majority put it at bronze just like Serge, who wrote: 'Nose: fragrant, fruity ... huge notes of gooseberries, melons, tangerines, bananas plus a little acacia honey and orange cake. As fruity as it can get – a designed whisky indeed. Mouth: very coherent. Lots of citrus fruits, oranges, honey, even mangos ... nutmeg, white pepper. Vanilla. The finish isn't too long but balanced and clean, with an enjoyable oaky dryness ... Very sweet – much sweeter than the 10yo - but certainly well made'.

Bruichladdich NAS '3D3' (46%, OB, The Norrie Campbell Tribute, 3rd Edition) 
Three medals for Bruichladdich this year - and this one came closest to silver. In fact, five jurors actually voted for silver (Serge, Krishna, Michel, Bert & Thomas) but a majority of seven said: bronze. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Peaty, farmy, stingy cedar wood, tobacco leaves, black pepper. Hints on chloride. After a while some blue smoke emerges, chervil, dried chives. Some smoked cheese, over-ripe melon, chartreuse? Dark notes on honey. Water brings in an ultra cleanness. The chloride gains some power. Palate: Quite peaty & smoky, honey, creamy malt, sweet licorice, ultra creamy mouth feel. Straw, old sweet wine, humus, cedar wood, lime skin. Finish: Peppery malts, oak, vanilla, crème brulée, Lovely oilyness'.

Bruichladdich 'Fifteen' 2nd Edition (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Four votes for 'thick' silver (Serge, Krishna, Ho-cheng and Peter) couldn't help it to an actual silver medal.
Michel didn't even think it was medal material and wrote: 'Nose: Malty, a tad rough, some vanilla, hints on soap, lemon peel, brown bread, subtle mandarin juice in the back ground. Lemon grass as well. Water brings out some dried sausages, lemon grass, curry leaves. Palate: As the nose suggests, malty, a tad soapy, hints on pine resin, vanilla, white pepper and some sharp oak. Water brings out heathery malts, the soap gets a bit more powerful. Lilacs, hints on bergamot oil. Finish: Quite severe burn, too much oak for the spirit to stand up to. Water brings out a less severe oak and brown bread'.

Bunnahabhain 12yo (40%, OB, Second Edition, Bottled +/- 2006)
TOP PURE DRAM AWARD 2006   A bronze medal winner may not look like the most likely candidate for one of the coveted Malt Maniacs Awards, but the six 'daily dram awards' focus on the affordable and easily available entries. And in that respect this Bunnahabhain performs very well. Craig was responsible for the lowest score (still an 'above average' 78 points) and wrote: 'Nose starts like an Islay on the cusp of Silver (probably Caol Ila) but there's something dodgy in the palate - a wood fault. There's a metallic zinginess that indicates a wood fault'. Well, it seems most jurors liked it just fine, Craig. I still have an instinctive craving for peat in my islay malts, but it's a great, affordable dram.

Bunnahabhain 27yo 1978/2006 (55,6%, Signatory, Sherry C#2542, 509 Bts.)
Only Bert Bruyneel didn't feel this was medal material, but since he didn't spend nearly enough time with some of his awards malts I don't think we should take his 59 points too seriously. Serge was one of eight maniacs to vote for silver here (clearly the majority vote) and wrote: 'Nose starts on ambergris and quite some vanilla. Also something slightly metallic (copper saucepan), lilies of the valley, mastic, argan oil, suntan lotion, paper, plastic (new car)… Wet stones and chalk, seltzer… And then the sherry comes through, after a good five minutes... more classical: sultanas, rancio, soy sauce, parsley, a little fresh mint, caramel crème… Very entertaining if you give this one a little time!'.  See, Bert?

Bushmills 1993 (56,5%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, Bourbon C#298, Ireland)
(Official bottling for La Maison du Whisky Paris, Bourbon C#298) The Irish didn't do quite as well as the Japanese this year, but the mere fact that a 'simple' Irish whisky wins a silver medal is a surprise in itself. In fact, Olivier, Krishna and Michel all voted for Gold. Luc thought it could be a Longmorn and I can see why - this single cask bottling has a 'Scotch' complexity. Craig wrote: 'Spirit grapefruit zest, talcum powder, icing sugar sucrose - syrup rounded but a bit fiery and some bitterness. Cream and fruit bitters and lingering sour herbs - another Irish?'. Indeed Craig, you spotted it!
And a good one too - quite different from the regular Bushmills bottlings I've tried so far...

Caol Ila 12yo 1992/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 388 Bts.)
Our sponsors submitted almost a dozen Caol Ila's this year and except for this one they all won silver. And as bronze medals go, this Old Malt Cask bottling received a fairly 'thick' one with an average score between 83 and 84 points. I went for 83 points myself and wrote: 'Light, fresh & peaty nose. Not terribly complex but very enjoyable. Some subtle organics emerge over time. Very nicely defined peat on the palate. The 'young' tannins are very apparent in the finish'. The golden boy for this malt was Ho-cheng with 90 points. Craig wrote: 'Sweet peat, citrus, dry rubber, peanuts & sweet lemon sherbet & some clean fresh cream. Peat tar rubber, citrus pith - a bit bitter. Tar, fireplaces, some metal. Long & warming'.

Caol Ila 1994/2005 (58,2%, Gordon & MacPhail Cask, C#12423 & 12424)
(First fill sherry butts #12423 & 12424) Together with Bert I actually voted for gold, but the majority vote said silver. Luc was the only juror who didn't like it, writing: 'Must be a Port Ellen from the 1980's'. Oh, how these blind tastings shame us sometimes ;-) Meanwhile, Craig liked it a little better (bronze), describing it as: 'Berry sweetness early, then nuttiness, meatiness roast meat, roast capsicum skins, baked pork with apples, bacon and tar. Big winey notes on palate then tar rubber and smoke. A wood finished Islay - almost certainly another weirdski.' Erm... No, not finished I think, Craig - but I have to admit that judging from their notes a few other jurors struggled to identify it as a relatively young Caol Ila.

Caol Ila 1995/2006 (58,2%, Jean Boyer, BCoSC, 300 Bts.)
(Best Cask of Scotland Collection, Re-coopered Hogsheads, 300 Bts.)  Just like the 1994 G&M bottling this one received two votes for gold - from Ho-cheng & Peter this time. And again the majority vote put it at silver. As always, Ho-cheng's comments were short and sweet; 'Deep and peaty. Strong. Simple but good'. Meanwhile, Craig was a little more articulate with his words of wisdom: 'Tropical fruit, cream, very light, some paper and a whiff of coal smoke - some struck match swampy marsh gas character, palate is a bit hot with some chargrilled lemon- finish has charcoal and ash, citrus, and bitter metal - more lemon notes with water. OK but a bit light, too hot and bitter'.

Caol Ila 1996/2006 (57%, Berry Brothers & Rudd)
Michel & Thomas were the only maniacs who didn't think this deserved a medal. Well, with six votes for silver (and even two for gold, courtesy of Olivier and Ho-cheng) it clearly does. I personally kept bouncing between bronze and silver for a long time and wrote: 'Light. Melon. Paint? Hint of light smoke. Very pleasant on the palate - hey, is that peat? Indeed, loads of peat on the palate. but it's a light style like Bruichladdich or Caol Ila - or a very young Kildalton malt perhaps? The amount of peat suggests Caol Ila. Enjoyable, but this is another one that needs time'.
Ho-cheng wrote: 'Grassy, mint banana, light peat. Gets peatier when adding water'.

Caol Ila 1993/2005 (46%, Wilson & Morgan)
This offering from Italian bottler Wildon & Morgan received one vote for gold and seven for silver. Krishna was the only maniac that didn't nominate it for a medal and even then his score was very close to medal territory with 78 points. Davin wrote: 'A solid Islay workhorse'. Craig was the golden boy here, writing: 'Big peat, sweet, hint of lemon, tennis shoe rubber, coriander leaves, lime zest then tar. Potato pie, some Asian egg dish. Palate has lemon, white rubber and tar. Fireplaces, dry coke with a metallic note in the tail - BBQ meat fat. Most probably Ardbeg and could even be the OB 10. But very nice'. Ah... NOT the Ardbeg 10yo Craig (to me it seemed a tad too clean for that), but indeed very nice.

Caol Ila 15yo 1991/2006 (56,7%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon C#743, 315 Bts.)
Another Caol Ila to receive a nominations for gold along the majority vote of nine silvers. In this case Davin was the golden boy, inspired to write this cryptic comment: 'Drinkin' in the hay pitch'. I don't know what that means, but I assume it's something good ;-)  Craig wrote: 'Straw, fruit acid, subdued peat which grows stronger - slightly medicinal - lemon dishwashing liquid, tonic water and ginger - peat more obvious in the palate with white rubber - could be an Ardbeg'. Well, I can see why you thought that, Craig. Most young Caol Ila's tend to be fairly clean and transparent, but this one showed a lot of the 'organics' I generally find in the Kildalton whiskies; Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig.

Caol Ila 15yo 1990/2005 (55%, Wilson & Morgan, C#4709/4710, 600 Bts.)
This was one of Peter's favorite Caol Ila's this year (he voted for gold) and with nine more votes for silver this earns a very solid medal. Overall, it was the 4th highest scoring Caol Ila in 2006. My notes say: 'Fairly restrained nose opening up quickly. Peat! Pretty solid on the palate with plain peat, although it doesn't really have a unique style of its own. Pleasant tannins in the finish… Good but a little simple - it feels just a tad too rough on the palate for my tastes'. Craig (85 points) wrote: 'Ointment, smoked meat, tar sweet unguent sweet rubber, dry perfumed smoke. Tar and spirit, creosote and coking coal, oily and phenolic palate. Spirit, charry notes old fireplaces, some burning leaves'.

Caol Ila 21yo 1984/2006 (58,5%, Dewar Rattray / Nectar, C#6266, 251 Bts.)
ISLAY AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 2006   (Dewar Rattray for 'The Nectar' in Belgium, Refill Bourbon cask)
None of the Caol Ila's that were submitted this year managed to win gold, but this one came closest. In fact, it even beat the Kildalton 'establishment' (Port Ellen, Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin) at this year's MM Awards. Serge wrote: 'Nose: Whiffs of manure & horse dung. Smokiness & minerality, ... black currants (fruits & leaves), violets, liquorice, incense. Seltzer, stones and horseradish and probably an added farminess but no butter this time. Top class Caol Ila, it seems. Another punchy Caol Ila for true big boys, showing that Caol Ila gets even better when above twenty years of age'.

Caol Ila 25yo 1979/2005 (58,4%, OB)
The only official bottling in the line up of Caol Ilas this year was distilled in 1979 - just like the two next expressions on this list. But I'm afraid that compared to the 'thick' silver of those two, this one fell just a little bit short. Craig voted for bronze (just like four other maniacs) and wrote: 'Varnish, pine oil, citrus, sweet peat, tonic water, peanuts and honey then lots of sour grass. Lots of resin and sappy wood notes. Palate has syrup, honey & some tart fruit, sour citrus then tar and rubber. Tastes like a peated Irish'. Oh Craig, your notes always sound so erudite and thoughtful - right up to the very end when you often shatter those illusions with a wild - and in this case incorrecct - guess ;-)

Caol Ila 26yo 1979/2006 (62,8%, Signatory Vintage, Hogshead #05/848, 217 Bts.)
This was our second favourite Caol Ila of almost a dozen that were submitted this year. Eight jurors voted for silver and Olivier even went for gold. Serge wrote: 'Nose: Starts on notes of caramel and parsley, celery… Even less peat and smoke but more resin, fern, moss, wet leaves. Quite some marzipan as well, candle wax. Smoked tea. Gets even meatier with time, also notes of old books. With water: much more peat now, hints of manure, wet hay, porridge. More fresh herbs as well, parsley, lovage. Mouth (neat): slightly sweeter, than the OB, with notes of sherry, something slightly sour and again quite some salt. Finish: rather long again, with notes of something like tequila, walnut skins'.

Caol Ila 1979/2006 (61,8%, Jean Boyer, BCoSC)
(Best Cask of Scotland Collection, Re-coopered Hogsheads)  The self-applied title 'best Cask of Scotland' might be just a tad presumptuous, but this still came in as our third favorite Caol Ila this year. This independent bottling managed to beat some old Islay favorites like the Lagavulin 16yo and the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Yes, Caol Ila is still on the rise and it seems 1979 must have been a particularly good year at the distillery. Luc gave it the highest score of all jurors (92 points) and wrote: 'Lovely Caol Ila that is multi-dimensional and clean and austere, and very long in the finish, a true Islay expression with a nice farmy undertone, I love it!'. Indeed Luc, you got this one right! Agreed, lovely Caol Ila...

Cardhu 22yo 1982/2005 (57,8%, OB, 3600 Bts.)
Hmmm... I have to admit that I didn't even nominate it for a medal (and neither did Craig, Michel and Luc) but on the other hand there were also four maniacs (Serge, Krishna, Peter and Bert) who confidently voted for gold. So, this was a contender for the 'Love-It-Or-Hate-It Award'. The jurors that loved this Cardhu loved it enough to help it reach the very top of the bronze list - as close to silver as possible. Craig may not have nominated it for a medal, but he still found stuff to love and wrote: 'Sour fruit, some wood, fruit tingles, some charry notes and some savoury dough nose gets more sonorous. Lemon pith and chewy oak in palate. Bitter melon, metal and a hint of honey'

Carsebridge 1965/2006 (46%, Berry Brothers, Rare Reserve, Single Grain)
A very solid silver medal; nine scores in the upper 80's. For a moment we even thought this won the 'grain award'.
In fact, this was one of the rare cases where EVERYBODY on the jury agreed it deserved a medal. The lowest score (still a respectable 81 points) came from 'new kid on the block' Robert. I liked it a lot and wrote: 'Clay. Some light spices & organics? Smoke? The nose is a little bit weird, but very interesting. Smooth (VERY smooth), sweet & solid on the palate. Toffee? Salmiak? Hint of leather? There's a smoothness (vanilla?) that reminded me of the Greenore Irish grain'.
Luc wrote: 'This must be a grain whisky and it is a nice one' - and then picked it as a Girvan ;-)

Chieftain's 'The Cigar Malt' 12yo 1992/2005 (51,5%, Chieftain's Choice)
(Cask #90201, Speyside, Port Pipe, 900 Bts.) Scores and opinions were strongly divided here; Ho-cheng went ga-ga over it with 92 points and wrote 'Apple, citrus, very sweet, seems like Port finish. But I still like it'. Meanwhile, Luc had an entirely different opinion: 'I simply don't like this camouflaging whisky style I'm afraid.... Stop this finishing please!'. Davin also thought this might be a port finish during the blind tastings. Well spotted, fellows. And although there's still disagreement amongst the maniacs about the 'concept' of finishing the results speak for themselves it seems. Actually, Luc... looking over the 'bronze' list I noticed that this actually out-scored your beloved Glenfarclas 21yo ;-)

Clynelish 1997/2006 (43%, Jean Boyer, BCoSC)
(Best Cask of Scotland Collection, Re-coopered Hogsheads)  Luc was the only juror to nominate this Clynelish for gold (91 points) and wrote: 'Great dram, enjoyment in pure lime, spring aroma's'. Serge and Bert enjoyed it a lot too and voted for silver - but the majority opinion eventually put it at bronze. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Grassy and lemony. lemon grass, subtle lime juice, cake dough, vanilla.  Some licorice, canvas ropes. Added water brings out a heathery, soapy feel even more lemon now. Palate: Quite neutral. some subtle vanilla, butter, lemon grass, hay, white pepper and licorice. Added water brings out soapy malts and heathery oak... Finish: Some citrus skin, white pepper and faint licorice. Not very impressive'.

Clynelish 11yo 1994/2005 (58,9%, TWE The Single Malts of Scotland, C#4011)
(The Whisky Exchange, Sherry cask, 367 Bottles)  This wasn't the highest scoring Clynelish amongst the six medal winners this year, but considering that the two other silver medal winners and the gold medal winner were three times as old this one performed VERY well. Serge wrote: 'Nose: A little clean & smoky, less yeasty and also more on hot butter and pastry, plus 'waxiness'. Mouth: hot and spirity, with the sherry adding another layer. It then calms down a bit, letting some nice notes of dried oranges and wax coming through, as well as, again, cloves and pepper – even chilli and harissa. But it doesn't get as bitter… Now, it does need a few drops of water otherwise it's too burning (Tabasco is easier to drink, err…)'.

Clynelish 1992/2005 (46%, Berry Brothers, C#7168)
This Clynelish actually came quite close to winning a silver medal (as Olivier, Ho-cheng and Michel felt it should), but it turned in as the 9th highest scoring bronze medal winner. And I should probably point out once more that 'bronze' at the MM Awards isn't a 'consolation' prize. In order to earn bronze, the average score (determined by a dozen individual BLIND scores from the jury) has to be at least 80 points - which means 'recommendable' in our book. And also keep in mind that the 'medal' is an AVERAGE. In this particular case, Serge and Peter both voted for a gold medal with their scores of 90 points. I wrote: 'Bubblegum? If it had been any sweeter I would have thought it was a liqueur'.

Clynelish 32yo 1972/2005 (49,9%, TWE The Single Malts of Scotland, C#15619)
(The Whisky Exchange, Hogshead #15619, 226 Bts.)  Olivier (who voted for a whopping gold medal with 96 points) guessed this was either Glenfiddich or Clynelish. Right! Ho-cheng who scored it at 89 points wrote: 'Apple and orange, medium peat, A little bit soapy but not bad. Long finished'.  Craig really didn't like this and was the only one NOT to vote for a medal. He wrote: 'Quite sour and bitter - grapefruit, underripe melon, lime and cream, then syrup and honey - solid but a little dull. Palate syrup, citrus pith, quite bitey sour lemon and some tonic water. Finish is warming with citrus, metal some sour stone fruit metal and herbs. Probably a Lowland OP. OK but lacks a bit of interest'.

Clynelish 32yo 1974/2006 (58,6%, The Whisky Fair, 266 Bts.)
SUPREME BOURBON CASK AWARD 2006   (Bourbon Hogshead, 266 Bottles)  Ho-cheng's comments on this malt were short and sweet as usual: 'Extremely good palate & finish. Big and matured well'. I have to admit I wasn't quite as blown away as Ho-cheng (who gave it 94 points) but still liked it a lot. I wrote: 'Subtle & delicate. Most of the interesting stuff happens quietly in the background at first. Faint pinch of peat on the palate? Some very subtle fruits as well before the tannins kick in. With a splash of water the nose quickly opened up. Hey, now I got some leather in the nose. A little delicate for my tastes but hugely interesting and enjoyable. I think you need a good nose to enjoy this to the fullest, though'.

Clynelish 33yo 1973/2006 (54,3%, Prestonfield, C#8912, 405 Bts.)
Bert really didn't like this expression (he gave it an astonishing 62 points and called it 'the grimace whisky) but most maniacs disagreed - Serge and Luc even to the tune of 95 and 94 points respectively. This whisky perfectly illustrates that a medal in the MM Awards is an average of the opinions of a dozen different maniacs. Sometimes those opinions are in almost perfect alignment, but in other cases we just have to agree to disagree. I voted for bronze and wrote: 'Nose: Light & gentle, with some added depth. Maybe just a tad forgettable? The fruits on the palate are beautiful though, almost like a cognac. Very obvious wood on the palate - a bit much for me. Great whisky, just not really my 'style'.

Compass Box NAS 'Eleuthera' (46%, Compass Box, Bottled +/- 2006)
Although this expression from John Glaser's Compass Box received 'just' a bronze medal, all but one juror agreed it deserves a medal. That one juror was yours truly, I'm afraid - but I still gave it 78 points which is pretty close to bronze. Two other jurors voted for silver (Michel & Thomas) and all others agreed on bronze. The Eleuthra is a vatted malt that earned an average score not far behind our overall favorite of the three Compass Box whiskies, the 'Peat Monster'. Michel wrote: 'More peaty than smoky. Subtle notes on nutmeg, fresh tobacco leaves. After a while it gets more sweet and heavy. Develops clean sulphur after a while. Palate: As the nose, more peaty than smoky. Some gun powder'.

Compass Box NAS 'Hedonism' (43%, Compass Box, Bottled 2006)
Here's something you don't see every day: a vatted grain whisky... It doesn't reach the heights of some of the single grains that were submitted this year - but then again I imagine this is in a much 'friendlier' price category.
Robert wrote: 'First impression is flour sugar. Then more sugar and then lots of ripe sweet pears. Super candy and obviously very bourbonish. Also slightly grappa-ish in the nose, young? But not bad. Tastewise it doesn't live up to the sugar tooth nose. It turns into less ripe pears and instead of fruity it turns malty, slightly dour and spirity. Edgy.
Still the end result is lifted by the nose to almost medal material in my book'
.

Compass Box NAS 'The Peat Monster' (46%, Compass Box, Bottled 2006)
When we had to decide on which 'awards' to hand out this year this bronze medal winner came into view as a possible 'Prime Peaty Dram Award' winner, together with Wilson & Morgan's House Malt. However, the rules for the 'daily dram' awards say that the bottles have to be 'easily available everywhere' - and it seems both are relatively small batches. Consequentially, that award went to the more expensive Laphroaig 15yo - but if you stumble across a bottle of this 'Peat Monster' it's certainly worth a try. If it happens to be the same batch we received, you can drink the whisky that enticed Peter to nominate it for what must be the thickest gold medal ever with 98 points! So, this hit the spot for Peter...

Connemara NAS (40%, OB, Peated single malt, Ireland)
It's nice to see the Irish (in this case Cooley) manage to earn themselves a few medals as well this year.
It's no secret that many maniacs (and therefor many members on the jury) like peaty whiskies and for a while I worried that the fairly 'gentle' peaty style of Connemara might cause it to fade into the background. Fortunately not; this received nine votes for bronze and even one for silver (85 points from Bert). Luc wrote: 'Nose: Fairly simple sweet, malted barley, some wet grain, warm bread with a touch of peach, nice but simple. Palate: A bit weak on the palate, you get the malted barley, the grain, the bread, warm peaches a whiff of pepper, nice but fairly simple. An ok dram, but simple'.

Connemara NAS Cask Strength (58,8%, OB, Peated single malt, Ireland)
Ho-cheng described it perfectly when he wrote: 'Peaty & malty. Young, light body. Enjoyable, you don't need to think'.
I have to agree here. Maybe this Irish peated malt isn't such a peat monster as some of the entries from Islay (or even mainland Scotland) but it's a perfect 'easy' peated malt that should go down relatively smoothly, even with people that may not usually be fond of heavily peated whiskies. Robert wrote: 'Pears (I always find pears) and other more exotic fruits in slight amounts. Also a certain saltiness combined with some darker tones, "stable" makes it quite interesting indeed. Unfortunately the taste is a tad simple. Malty sweetness, veery slight fruits and it feels quite strong. That's it'.

Convalmore 28yo 1977/2005 (57,9%, OB, 3900 Bts.)
Krishna and Luc voted for gold here, as well as Ho-cheng who wrote: 'Heather, light peat. Beautiful flower nose, hint of mint. Young but has lot's characters, you really feel some touching moment'. With three more votes for silver and five for bronze, this averages out as a silver medal. Craig wrote: 'Lots of bourbon wood character toffee syrup and honey. Palate is shows spirit, syrup and sour herbs. Finish has metal and cream honey and oak - long and warming - gets points for palate presence'. I voted for silver too and commented: 'Fruity start. Hint of clay? Liqueurish start, then more chemical quickly. Diesel? Hey, a surprising pinch of peat on the palate inbetween the sherry and fruits. Lots of improvement with time'.

Cragganmore 20yo 1985/2006 (54,9%, Signatory, Hogshead #1877, 242 Bts.)
Ho-cheng voted for gold and wrote: 'Very nice sweet herb palate, light peated. Very nice yet quite a palate killer'.
Not everybody found peat here - I don't think any other juror did, in fact - but a majority agreed it was medal material. The votes were cut straight through the middle, though; four members of the jury voted for silver and four for bronze. Robert wrote: 'Quite the fruity one. Oranges, tangerines, apricots. Quite special and feels strong. All the fruit balances nicely with vanilla and a slight chemical tone. Tastewise the vanilla steps in front, alongside malty tones. Also some tangy apples in there. Nice, drinkable but quite short and not too high concentration on the tastes nor nose'.

Craigellachie 16yo 1989/2006 (54,7%, Dewar Rattray, C#3881, 320 Bts.)
Some mixed responses on this Craigellachie from a single bourbon cask; three votes for silver and six for bronze.
Craig didn't nominate it for a medal and wrote: 'Straw, pastry, spirit, metal, cream, fruit tingles, simple sugars (fructose). Rich palate but gets sour and bitter.  Spirit in the tail - metallic tingle - OK but is a bit aggressive and bitter'. Robert liked it a little better (he voted for bronze) and wrote: 'A somewhat uncut buttery, flowery and sweet thingie this. Strong, should be cask strength. Tastewise the malt dominates and it's well balanced and indeed drinkable. A bronze to me'.
Well, what a coincidence... that's exactly what it got...

Deanston 11yo 1994/2006 (46%, DL Provenance, Spring/Summer)
Comments: Three votes for silver (Krishna, Peter and Bert) and five for bronze translates into a bronze medal here.
Luc guessed this was a Caol Ila (huh?) and wrote: 'Nose: 'Malty metallic mineral, clean peat, sea-breeze, cardboardy, buttery, zilty tang, alcohol, nice but simple. Palate: Nice clean malty peaty taste, quite some sea-aroma's, mineral touches and salt, nice but simple. Finish: Sweet malty peaty development, ok but simple. A young nice Caol Ila'. Robert felt quite differently and wrote: 'Hay, citrus, some slight cereal notes comes afloat. Pretty fresh, feels young and lowlandish. Tastewise it's oily, light, a little malty and uncomplicated. Your ordinary almost bronze summer malt I'd say'.

Edradour 10yo Côtes de Provence Finish (58,8%, Signatory Vintage SftC)
(Signatory Vintage Straight from the Cask, Bottled 2006, 50cl)  I should point out that we apparently didn't record or receive all the data on this bottling - like the vintage or cask number. If I am not mistaken those are always given on bottles in this series. So, although this one actually receives a medal, buying one for yourself might be a risky venture. Edradour is infamous for the batch variation between different bottlings, especially now that they are finishing so many different casks in so many different ways. So, if you happen to pick up a bottle from another cask you may find that it's not what we would consider 'medal material'. If you want to play it safe, go for the next one...

Edradour 23yo 1983/2006 Port Finish (52,1%, Signatory Vintage, C#06/0554)
This Port finished Edradour (Cask #06/0554, 743 Bottles) turned out to be our favorite submission from the distillery this year - on average - and it even received two votes for gold (both 92 points) from Krishna and Robert. And then, strangely enough, not a single juror voted for silver. It still pulled in enough votes for bronze to reach an 'average' score of bronze, but it's safe to say that opinions were divided on this one. One thing is certain, you won't be bored. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Peppery malts, some ginger, some baby vomit, fudge, orange skin, broth, mashed potatoes, cooked parsley, Palate: Very fudgy, malts, toffee, digestives, cake icing, vanilla sauce, baby vomit... Has an enjoyable burn'.

Girvan 1989/2006 (46%, Berry Bros, C#110634 & 110635, Single grain)
You don't see that many single grains on the shelves of the average liquorist and if you do the chance it's a 'Girvan' is relatively small. So, this was a nice opportunity for the maniacs on the jury - but of course they didn't know that at the time they were tasting it blind. Craig wrote: 'Meaty, oily, egg & bacon pie, some pine resin which gets stronger & sweeter, sugar & ointment. Palate has sour fruit chews and fruit acid. Finish is sweet, then creamy then metallic' to which Robert later added 'Vanilla domination here I come! Oily & buttery & vanilla again. And again. Tastewise it returns in full force. Hm, anything else? Nope. This is bl**dy unbalanced one might just say. Still, if you like bourbon or whatever this is, buy it!'.

Glen Grant 1956/2005 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for La Maison du Whisky)
SUPREME SHERRY CASK AWARD 2006   (G&M Licensed bottling for LMdW, Refill sherry butt, 459 Bts.)
By far the oldest entry this year (just short of 50yo) managed to receive the third highest score! Eight maniacs voted for gold, all the others for silver. The lowest score for this entry was Krishna's 85 points, which still qualifies as 'highly recommendable' in our book. well, if that's the worst we have to say about a whisky, I guess it must be pretty good. Craig liked it too (88 points) and wrote: 'Classy wood - Oloroso sherry from American oak. The palate is worth gold but the finish is solid silver. A classy 30yo speyside'. Even older Craig, Davin's blind comment was: 'Time in a bottle'. Indeed!

Glen Grant 1972/2006 (46%, Berry Brothers, C#1982)
This 'younger' Glen Grant earned a slightly lower average score than the Gordon & MacPhail bottling from 1956, but it was still one of those whiskies where EVERYBODY on the jury agreed it deserved a medal. Amongst all the gold and silver votes, Ho-cheng was the only one who opted for bronze. Luc voted for 91 points and wrote: 'Nose starts a bit grassy, a grass field after rainfall and humus, with quite some cardboard, develops to some deep honey notes, with  banana peel notes, some sour apples and cream, mokka coffee, warm apple cake with a raisin juice topping, quite some warm vanilla notes there too on really nice oakwood, great nose with a superb depth. Glenfiddich?'. Close but no cigar, Luc...

Glen Keith 1967/2006 (53%, G&M Reserve for LMdW Paris, 215 Bts.)
I have to admit that I liked this special bottling for La Maison du Whisky so much that I voted for gold.
And I wasn't the only one; Serge, Krishna and Ho-cheng felt it deserved gold as well. With six votes for silver that turned out to be the majority vote, but it earned one of the 'thickest' gold medals possible - this was the fifth highest scoring silver medal. I wrote: 'Aaaah… Sweet & smooth & polished. Lovely fruits on the palate. Really magnificent, so it lands in the 90's right there and then. Lovely fruity tannins in the finish. Development too - after enough time. A brilliant dram'. Meanwhile, Ho-cheng wrote: 'Lots of apple and vanilla, ripe, apple pie. Deep and nice. Very enjoyable'.

Glen Scotia 14yo 1991 (61,6%, Adelphi, C#1071, 255 Bts.)
Five votes for silver (Olivier, Davin, Ho-cheng, Luc & myself) and six for bronze make this a borderline case.
In a way, this illustrates perfectly how a bronze medal in the Malt Maniacs Awards often means that there were several maniacs that actually scored it in the upper 80's (silver, 'Highly Recommendable') and sometimes even in the 90's (gold). Robert went with the majority vote for bronze and wrote: 'Premiere malt (first I sample)! Feels like a typical bourbon cask. Vanilla, pears, but also some flowery somewhat perfumy notes. Quite buttery and big. Taste is oily and mouth coating indeed. A little grappaish actually. Also apricots and a little on the short side. Not bad but not too exciting'.

Glencadam 20yo 1985/2005 (54,2%, DL Platinum, 306 Bts.)
With eight votes for bronze and four for silver, this lands on the thickest side of bronze; recommendable.
Everybody except Peter agreed that this was medal material - simply good stuff. Luc scored it at 86 and wrote: 'Fresh & light nose of malt, citric tones, citrus zest, some flowers underneath, fresh minerals, a light alcohol prickle, nice'. Robert wrote: 'Different types of toffee (Werthers) and fudge breaks through the quite sweet nose. Also some laid back notes of figs and raisin. Very round and sweet. A little bit of white pepper and vanilla appears after some water. Taste wise a vanilla sweetness appears. Quite the mouth-coating one with woody longish notes. Very enjoyable dram indeed'.

Glencadam 15yo 1989/2005 (58%, Signatory, Sherry C#6014, 578 Bts.)
Comments: Only Krishna voted for a gold medal here (a whopping 93 points) but the majority hovered around the top of bronze or the bottom of silver. Despite Luc's score of 65 points this ultimately made it to 'thin' silver. I have to admit I liked it (87 points) and wrote: 'Subtle fruits in the nose. Hint of smoke? Blueberries. Developing complexity. On the palate I found loads of fruits. Wine finished? It goes in the direction of some overly 'treated' whiskies, but this one doesn't cross the border into weirdness. A hugely enjoyable whisky'. Robert liked this whisky too and wrote: 'Nose reminds me of a good dessert wine. Wonderful integrated sherry, lots of raisin, cedar tree, very ripe exotic fruit too. Very enjoyable this one'.

Glencadam 30yo 1975/2006 (54,4%, Dewar Rattray, Bourbon C#7588, 216 Bts.)
With six votes for silver and even one for gold this comfortably hops into the upper 80's. Luc (who hated the 15yo so much) went for the highest score of 91 points here. Craig conformed nicely to the general opinion with his score of 86 points and wrote: 'Tropical fruit, honeycomb, bit of shellac - lots of light honey. Palate is sweetly oaky with a some bitter citrus metal Finish has orange, honey and metal - lots of long nutty, charry and warming notes'. Robert voted for silver as well, writing: 'Cinnamon cakes. Buttery, sweet, big and mighty. Quite special, also vanilla appears. Yummy. Big fruit on the palate but turns quite short after water. Somewhat special taste this, feels almost like the best Irish I've ever tasted'.

Glenfarclas 15yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
SINGLE STARLET AWARD 2006  One of those rare entries where EVERYBODY agreed it was medal material.
Eight votes for silver (four of them 'very thick') put it at a solid average of silver. The Glenfarclas 15yo that was entered into the competition last year only earned bronze, but this new packaging seems decidedly more sherried than the previous batches - a move supported with higher scores. Craig wrote: 'Berries, whipped cream, furniture polish. Lots of wood, shellac, rose water. Palate has sherry, leather, brandied fruitsome metal and charry wood.  Finish has leather, sour cherries, charred wood, metallic with a woody reprise. Nose is on cusp of gold - rest not up to it, but very nice all the same'.

Glenfarclas 21yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Every whisky that wins a medal at the MM Awards is one we could 'collectively' recommend, so there's no doubt that this was a winner like the other two Glenfarcli that won this year. Still, compared to the new 15yo and the 25yo this particular expression didn't make much of an impact. I guess that the effects of the new bodega haven't seeped through in releases older than the 15yo yet. (Interesting to read Luc's interview with George Grant in MM#18, BTW.) Luc wrote on the nose: 'Nice delicate sweet, bread yeast, mash, cold lager, yellow flowers, brown apple & pineapple skin, oaky notes underneath, leathery notes too, fine and delicate and a bit winey too, a bit of a Sauternes underneath'.

Glenfarclas 25yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
We could have crowned Glenfarclas as one of the big winners of the MM Awards this year - if independent bottlings were allowed to use the name Glenfarclas on their labels. At least three whiskies that were distilled at the Glenfarclas distillery earned higher scores than the three official bottlings. If we could have counted the independent bottlings as well, we could have declared Glenfarclas one of the big winners of 2006. But we can't - so we'll have to look at just the three OB's. And I'm afraid that in that case only the new 15yo is a real stunner. Just like last year (with a slightly different jury) the 25yo expression was loved by the maniacs - but not quite enough for a silver medal.

Glenfiddich 32yo 1974/2006 (47,3%, OB for LMdW Paris, C#10260)
Serge and Bert actually voted for gold here, but with three more votes for silver it ultimately ends at the 'thick' end of bronze - like five of the jurors thought it should. However, a few maniacs that tried this whisky at another occasion felt that something might have gone wrong with this bottle - one of the very few that wasn't a sealed, shipped bottle.
Michel wrote: 'Nose: Honey, pepper, vanilla, behind that some grassy notes. Later on some sweet leather, pollen, wax.
Palate: Fairly sweet, subtle honey, some guava, mango, peppered mandarin. Later vanilla & oak. Stays on the harsh end of the spectrum. Finish: Peppery, oak, some gun powder, vanilla. Gets more green after a while. Stale beer and some malts'
.

Glenglassaugh 40yo 1965 (46,7%, The Whisky Fair, Fino Sherry butt, 361 Bts.)
Serge and Olivier both voted for gold but the opinions among the jury were divided. Even with four more votes for silver, the lackluster responses from Ho-cheng, Craig and Robert kept the average at bronze. En excerpt of Serge's fanmail; 'Nose: start on a superb mix of fresh fruits (white peaches, pears and pineapples) and waxy neo-oxidative notes (walnuts, flor) plus something like spring water and aluminium pan. Also kiwis? Amazingly fresh on the nose. Develops on gooseberries, cigar box and oriental pastries: excellent. Mouth: Lots of fresh fruits again (more on oranges and grapefruits this time) and a nice bitterness (old walnuts, chlorophyll chewing gum)'. Yeah, he seems to like it ;-)

Glengoyne 1991/2006 'Jim's Choice' (57%, OB, C#1083, 693 Bts.)
After the choices by the 'stillmen' of Glengoyne were so well received at the 2005 Awards, three mashmen got a shot at selecting their own casks this year. Jim chose an American Oak sherry butt and unlike Charlie's Choice or Peter's choice, this didn't receive any votes for gold from the jurors. So, it would seem that Jim's personal tastes deviate a little from those among the maniacs - and maybe even the other mashmen ;-)  Craig wrote: 'Lots of sour notes early then some dirty honey.  Palate has some charry burnt notes - finish has bitter pith and metal. Has a slight wood fault which becomes apparent in the palate and finish.  Nose struggles and slides from 83 down to 80 - rest is not worth a medal'.

Glengoyne 1989/2006 'Charlie's Choice' (56%, OB, C#1231, 279 Bts.)
Charlie chose a first fill Oloroso Sherry Hogshead. His choice was rewarded with a very solid silver medal; Peter's Choice earned a slightly higher average score but this one still managed to beat an old favorite like the Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength this year. Davin wrote: 'Earthy, muddy, sweet and woody. Wow!'.  I liked Charlie's Choice a lot too (I was one of four to vote for gold) and wrote: 'Sweet, polished, sherried and quite lovely. Organics in the nose - this needs time. A lovely balance between the fruit and the wood on the palate with a very enjoyable hint of toffee. Hint of oil? The wood on the palate is almost too much. A gold medal candidate. A fabulous malt with just a few rough edges...'.

Glengoyne 1986/2006 'Peter's Choice' (51%, OB, C#433, 603 Bts.)
DARK HORSE AWARD 2006   Chosen by mashman Peter, this was the highest scoring out of the three personally selected bottlings from Glengoyne this year. Unlike last year's choices (by the stillmen) none of them won gold, but this whisky (matured in a Pedro Ximenez Butt) came incredibly close as the second highest scoring silver medal winner, right after the 21yo 1985. Ho-cheng was one of five maniacs who actually voted for a gold medal and wrote: 'Heavily sherried, some sea influence, chocolate and plum. Complex'.  Craig wrote: 'Lovely sherry nose with mint, rancio, balsamic, rum & raisin chocolate, brandied fruitcake polished vanillan oak. Nose is solid gold - rest on cusp'.

Glengoyne 21yo 1985 (53%, OB Single Cask)
Maybe we should have invented a special 'poodle' prize for the entry missing gold by the closest margin?
If we did, this should have won as the highest scoring silver medal winner. Davin was one of five maniacs to actually vote for gold here and described it as: 'Christmas pudding in a bottle. Wonderful'. Luc felt very differently, though. He was the only one NOT to nominate for a medal and wrote: 'Not my kind, the freshness is not there, the sherry has taken over but in a bad way'. Well, fortunately for Glengoyne the opinions about that were strongly divided - although it would have made it to gold if Luc had found it in his heart to go just one or two points higher than 79...

Glengoyne 29yo 1977 (50,7%, OB SC)
Together with 'Jim's Choice' this made the bronze pair next to Glengoyne's silver trio. Well, actually this oldie came very close to silver (five jurors voted for that) but ultimately ended up as the 12th highest scoring bronze medal winner. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Fairly sweet. Orange cream, oak & vanilla. Lots of pineapple jam, some brown bread, subtle smoke, gun powder. A tad nervous (on the good end...), mashed potatoes, melted butter. Added water brings in a great vegetal sour note. Pomme de truffe, more subtle spices. Palate: As the nose there's some orange skin, leather, waxy malts, hints on ginger syrup, malts, some honey, black pepper, spicy oak. Water makes the whole a tad more subtle and looses on power...'.

Glengoyne 36yo 1969 (45,9%, OB SC)
The average score for this Glengoyne turned out slightly below that for the 21yo 1985 and Peter's Choice, but it still received two nominations for gold and ten (!) for silver. That makes it our third favorite Glengoyne this year - and one of the entries where we were most in agreement on. Craig wrote: 'Sour fruit and varnish some honeycomb which becomes stronger and oak gets very creamy. Some sour fruits (plums and nectarines) some oily and waxy notes - probably quite old quite classy. Finish has natural chewy caramel with some watery bitterness. Tastes like a 20+ yo Speysider'. Actually, not quite a Speysider Craig - I think Glengoyne still considers itself a 'borderline' Highlands distillery.

Glenlivet 1975/2006 (54%, Berry Bros, C#10846)
GENTLE GIANT AWARD 2006  I'm quite sure that this could have made it to a gold medal if this year's competition hadn't been as arduous as it was, with some 200 samples to sample completely blind in one or two months. Under these harsh condition, this was a welcome reprieve from the often 'bolder' malts from the rest of Scotland (& Japan). Robert wrote: 'Super round chocolate alongside buttery & syrupy notes. Also vanilla, nougat & toffee. Cinnamon, nuts, winey. Oh my, this is very good. Complexity explodes even more after some water. Lots of dry spices on the palate. Very long taste filled with dried fruits, vanilla & sweetness. After water it turns a little short but all in all very enjoyable indeed'.

Glenlivet 1974/2006 (46%, Berry Bros, C#5203)
With six votes for silver and one for gold it makes it into the upper 80's. Serge wrote (among other things): 'Sangria, orange juice, ham. Quite some sherry, with a faint sourness (orange marmalade, balsamic vinegar). It gets then much meatier, almost animal (game, hare's belly, dog) with quite some soy sauce and a slight smokiness. Smoked ham? Keeps developing on very ripe black currants and bigaroon cherries and then a whole fruit salad. This one gets more and more expressive with time. Wine-poached pears, strawberry cordial, cherry liqueur... All that is still very elegant. A sherried whisky with no toffee, no coffee, no raisins and no chocolate for a change. Beautiful'. And those are just his notes on the nose,,,

Glenlossie 40yo 1966/2006 (50%, Adelphi, C#3779, 213 Bts.)
Bloody.... some of the competitors really sent in some VERY special (and I suspect pretty expensive ;-) bottles in their hunt for one of those coveted MM awards and medals. With three votes for gold (Serge, Michel and Luc) and seven for silver, a solid silver medal it is. Robert wrote: 'Elegant woody tones and fruits (exotic ones). Slightly restrained and nose isn't very concentrated. A little smoke there too? A complex and difficult one this. The palate develops a lot with time. First short, later very spicey and winey. Dried fruits appear in the after taste which turns very long. Considerably bigger taste than nose. Also some notes of leather and a little bitterness. Probably old, not bad but not fantastic'.

Glenmorangie NAS 'Artisan Cask' (46%, OB, First fill hogshead, 50cl)
I have to admit I'm a bit fuzzy about the details on this 'Artisan Cask'. I've seen the name pop up so often that I can't imagine it's a single cask bottling - but apparently this was matured in a first fill American white oak hogshead. Robert wrote: 'Quite fragrant. Red currants, quite berryish. Vanilla tones and malty tones. Round and nice. The vanilla and malt returns in the taste. Slightly flowery at the end. Round and quite nice'. Serge wrote: 'The nose has some big, bold vanillin. Very bourbonny, with lots of meadowflowers, pollen and light honey. The attack is powerful but nicely balanced, and extremely sweet with lots of light caramel, corn syrup, vanilla… Very compact, nicely crafted, but maybe it lacks a little complexity'.

Glenmorangie 18yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
The most remarkable thing about this 18yo expression, at least for me, was that it earned virtually the same average score as the 30yo listed next. After looking at the individual scores more closely, I noticed that there actually were big differences. Only five jurors gave (virtually) the same score to both entries; Davin (78 on both), Krishna (83 & 82), Craig (75 & 77), Peter (72 on both) and Bert (86 & 87). Both picked up enough bronze and silver for an average bronze medal. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Green apple, lemon skin, vanilla, sharpish oak, some white pepper. Develops sweaty notes. Water brings out some pear juice, dried apricot. The oak dominates, but it's the right kind of oak, turning towards tarragon & chervil...'.

Glenmorangie 30yo Oloroso Cask Finish (44,3%, OB, Bottled 2004, 4548 Bts.)
(Matured from 1972 to 1989 in Bourbon hogsheads, then from 1989 to 2004 in Oloroso Sherry butts)
Serge wrote: 'Nose: very special, on watercress and walnut skin, with some notes of Darjeeling tea. Very subtle and just superb. The mouth is rounded, sweet but nervous and complex. Some nice notes of ripe bananas, fructose, tropical fruits, getting quite smoky, spicy and gingery. This one is pure pleasure'. Luc later added: 'Nose: Nicely melted aroma's of apricots on wood, acacia honey, heather, wood smoke, apple vanilla cake, warm pastries. Palate: Nice creamy taste, a start of pastries, warm honey on cake, but then it turns sour and the sulphury notes come thru. Aooooh too bad... this one had potential'.

Hakushu 12yo (43%, OB, Suntory, Japan, Bottled +/- 2006, 70cl)
The most remarkable thing about these 12yo and 18yo 'Hakushu' whiskies from Japan is probably the fact that
they ended up with nearly identical average scores, despite the extra six years that the 18yo spent in the cask.
I'm afraid that I was the only juror who didn't think this deserved a medal - and four jurors voted in fact for silver.
Robert wrote: 'Nice peppery palate intermixed with fresh lime. Pleasant buttery tones with vanilla and also hints of smoke. Aye, interesting. The taste turns more simple and cereal, some tiny chemical note lingers also. I think here is very slight traces of smoke, or is it peat; which unfortunately makes it a little bit sour. All in all still bronze material'.

Glenugie 27yo 1977/2005 (46,7%, Signatory, Hogshead #5506, 220 Bts.)
I have to admit that I personally didn't like this particular bottling a lot, but the majority voted for a bronze medal.
In fact, four jurors (Serge, Luc, Krishna and Ho-cheng) voted for silver. They form an interesting little sub-group in
the jury because the four of them liked a few other whiskies in the competition notably better than the rest as well. Robert wrote: 'Light grassy somewhat flat restrained one this. A little perfumy too, flowers, some aniseed too? Some
vanilla appears in the taste, otherwise it matches the nose pretty well. Probably decent during the summer but it misses
some points on lack of concentration on the palate and nose'
.

Glenugie 22yo 1981/2004 (52,5%, Chieftain's Choice, C#5134, 654 Bts.)
(Refill Sherry Butt #5134, 654 Bts.)  This bottling actually came quite close to winning a silver medal and if it had been up to Serge, Krishna and myself it actually would have. In fact, Robert even voted for a gold medal here and wrote enthusiastically: 'Heavy, very pleasant fruity sweetness. Smoke too. Wood influence (very positive). Spicey and yet lively, apples also? This nose is brutally excellent. Very special taste, smoked cured meat (?), some good matured mouldy cheese (must be a first for me to be found in a whisky), spicey as h*ll. Gold material!'. Well, in this case not enough jurors agreed to help it get to an average of a silver medal, but bronze is nothing to scoff at either...

Glenrothes 1985/2005 (43%, OB)
With three votes for silver (from Serge, Davin and Peter) and five for bronze this averages out at bronze.
Peter gave the top score of 89 points here and found 'chocolate covered coffee bean' in this malt. Let's see if anybody else found that. Robert wrote: 'Hm. A musty, earthy, overripe raisins (?) nose which is not in my style. The raisins are also quite evident in the taste along with buttery influence although it turns light and dry at the (short) end'. Well OK, how about Craig then? He wrote: 'Deep burnt toffee, coffee sour fruit and sour berries, balsamic and fudge, savoury meaty like Bunny 12yo. Rich sweet, chocolatey palate, some gaminess - make a nice sauce for haggis'. You see? Coffee AND chocolate!

Highland Park 1992/2006 (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Refill sherry)
Michel LOVED this bottle and gave it a generous 92 points. Not everybody agreed it deserved gold, but most agreed it was medal material with four votes for silver (Serge, Krishna, Ho-cheng and myself) and five for bronze. That averages out as a fairly thick bronze medal in our system. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Some great citrus to begin with, subtle notes on passion fruits & blueberries. Vanilla, some oak, pine apple, mint leaves. Slightly damp oak, apple juice, very subtle spices. Well bread! Palate: Very nice mouth feel. Subtle passion fruit, blue berries, damp oak, Very, very subtle and sincere. I got to like this one. Pure & balanced. Lime peel & slightly oily, wonderful feel. Balance + Civilised + Complexity = Aristocrat'.

Highland 1993/2006 'Monbazillac Finish' (46%, Celtique Connexion, 365 Bts.)
The full name actually says 'Doubled Matured Monbazillac Finish'; quite a mouth full that indicates that this was first matured in bourbon wood before finishing in a Monbazillac cask. I was very pleased to see this Celtic Connexion bottling win silver this year. In fact, I voted for gold with 91 points myself and wrote 'Heavy wood, touch of smoke. Subtle fruits, very rich and distinguished. Lovely organics. Polished oak. Beautiful, On the palate wood is the dominant factor as well at first, but a mellow sweetness joins the party quickly. Maybe too woody and extreme for some, but I love it. Pretty brilliant.'.
I was the only one to vote for gold here, but seven other jurors nominated it for a silver medal - must be good...

Hanyu 1988/2006 (56,3%, Full Proof Holland, Pancheon C#9204)
The second biggest surprise from Japan this year - and in a way the biggest surprise from Holland ;-)
This whisky (with a great 'Japanese ass' label) earned the fourth highest average score in the 2006 Awards. The lowest score for this malt was 84 points (thickest bronze) from Michel; all the other jurors went for gold or silver here. I loved it to the tune of 91 points and wrote 'Rich & polished. Hints of organics in the nose. Sweet & fruity on the palate with a hint of mocca. And loads of wood. Fabulous! Maybe a hint of liquorice? The nose sweetens out over time. A splash of water didn't seem to change the profile a lot at first - but then lots of interesting organics emerge. Leather? It NEEDS time, though!'.

Hakushu 18yo (43%, OB, Suntory, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 70cl)
Olivier, Krishna, Craig, Peter, Michel, Bert and Thomas all scored this within one or two points of the 12yo Hakushu. Davin and I were the only two jurors to strongly disagree, both giving the lowest score (73 points) to one of the two. Michel wrote: 'Nose: That's nice... Beeswax, turpentine, peach, mango, oak, some white pepper, chervil, sausages. Tough after a few minutes the oak starts to dominate a bit. Some onion chutney, mace, cloves. Palate: Quite nice. Very oaky but behind that there's the usual dried fruits. As with the nose, the oak begins to dominate. Some milk chocolate and almonds. Finish: Oak, vanilla, licorice, bay leave. I'm starting to dislike this non-offensive style of whisky but it's good, no doubt...'.

Glen Scotia 1999/2006 'Heavily Peated' (52,7%, OB for TWF, 464 Bts.)
(Bourbon C#1999/541+542, 464 Bts.) A heavily peated Glen Scotia? What will they think of next...
Let's see what the blind tasters thought... Robert wrote: 'Some peat there. Pears and vanilla, quite balanced and round. ... Surprisingly light-weight body ... The peat is there but very light and not Islayish'. Ha! Good one, Robert... Not Islayish indeed! Any other opinions? Yes, Michel wrote: 'Nose: Quite briny. A softer kind of smoke, some grape fruit and tar. After a while the smoke intensifies, some tobacco leaves, leather and some bitterness kicks in. Palate: Some smoke, white pepper, subtle vanilla, tobacco leaves, ... cedar wood and grapefruit ... peppered lemon skin. Finish: Nice peppery burn, some peat'.

Laphroaig NAS 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, Ref M011795, Bottled +/- 2006)
Last year the 'Quarter Cask' also won silver - not to mention a 'daily dram' award. That award went to the Laphroaig 15yo this year - maybe because the 15yo would have won that award if it had also been submitted in 2005, but I personally believe that it could have something to do with the fact that the Quarter Cask is a single cask bottling. There's bound to be variation between the individual casks - perhaps even MORE variation between these 'quarter' casks because they're smaller. Craig wrote: 'Tingly fruit, chargriled pineapple, lemon curd. Lemon zest then smokey bacon then rubber and tar. Sweet hot and lots of rubber in the palate. Tastes like an Islay but doesn't really nose exactly like one'.

Lagavulin 16yo (43%, OB, 'Port Ellen', Bottled +/- 2006)
It was good to see my old favorite Lagavulin return to the competition again after winning silver in 2003.
And just like then, it picked up solid silver again. Everybody agreed this was medal material (the lowest score was 80 points from Robert) and eight jurors voted for silver - so, that's pretty solid and proves 'the scoring system' works. Craig wrote: 'Starts with toffee & sour fruit, boot polish & rubber, maybe some peat ointment in the background and then some sour woodiness, leather & meranti. Palate has ointment, bacon & cream. Finish has tar & leather & almond skins.  Must be Islay but the peat takes a while to come out. Probably quite venerable - could be 30+ years. Lacks some oomph'.

Inchgower 25yo 1980/2006 (53,2%, Dewar Rattray, Sherry C#14161, 486 Bts.)
Davin (who gave this one a whopping 93 points) wrote: 'Stunning nose and beautiful tannic palate. Beautifully integrated peat. Man oh man, this is Great Whisky'. Luc disagreed in the strongest possible terms (he gave it a paltry 76 points) and wrote: 'Way too much rubbery sulphury notes in this one I'm afraid'. So, as you can see the members of the jury do not always see eye to eye on which bottlings are 'worthy'. That's why we need the 'magic formula' to calculate our average metal for all entries in a particular year. Well, in this case the answer wasn't that hard to see right away. Apart from Davin's gold medal vote there were two nominations for silver (Krishna & Robert) and seven for bronze.

Highland Park 28yo 1978/2006 (54,8%, Blackadder, Sherry C#4212, 328 Bts.)
Every juror except Peter agreed this bottling in the 'Raw Cask' series was medal material, but with eight votes for bronze the silver medal nominators (Serge, Olivier, Michel & Bert) had the minority vote. Luc guessed 'Rosebank, Clynelish, Ardmore perhaps?' and wrote 'A nice dram, if you like them simple and clean - and mineral'. Michel wrote: 'Nose: lemon skin, tea bags, almonds, bitterish malts, some wax, leather, liquorice, nutmeg, ferns, dried moss. Quite nice. Subtle notes on car tire & rosemary. Palate: A tad hot at first. Some vanilla, old paper (in a good way), some white pepper. As the nose, a very faint and sweet note on car tire. Finish: Now some peat joins in, some car tire again ...'. <SNIP>

Highland Park 15yo (46%, The Alchemist, Bottled +/- 2006)
Out of the three Highland Parks in their teens that earned medals this year, this came out at the bottom.
Just ever so slightly, though - it came pretty close to the Wilson & Morgan bottling and received four nominations for a silver medal (from Serge, Olivier, Krishna and Ho-cheng). That being said, together with Craig and Robert I didn't feel this was medal material - once again proving that some bronze medals are averages of widely diverging opinions...
Robert wrote: 'Dry & closed. Dusty, earthy, some hay. Very light & slight fruitiness, so slight I cant say from what. Unfortunately the taste turns very simple with only malty tones. Feels young and pretty boring. Not one for me I'm afraid'.

Laphroaig 10yo (40%, OB, Ref M00392, Bottled +/- 2006)
Last year this 'standard' 10yo expression still earned a silver medal, but with a slightly different jury this year (and without peathead Klaus) it got stuck with a bronze medal in 2006. It was a big fat medal though - everybody agreed this was medal material (the lowest score was 80 points) and five maniacs (Olivier, Ho-cheng, Bert, Thomas and me) voted for silver. Luc (84 points) wrote: 'Nose: Farmy hay, leather, old peat, earthy sweaty, old books, smoky bacon notes, some salt underneath, old butter, nice. Palate: A bit weak, malty, very earthy, mushroomy with a touch of old peat, bacon, varnish, ok but a bit plumb. Finish: Old peaty end, quite some smoke in there, cold ash, cold cigar smoke, smoking wood.'.

Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength (55,7%, OB, 2006)
PRESSURE COOKER AWARD 2006  I guess the fewer number of peatheads on the '2006' jury hurt the chances of last year's gold medal winner (and winner of the 'Bang-For-Your-Buck Award') this year. Still, it earned a top silver medal, with only four other Islay malts scoring higher; the Caol Ila that won the Islay Award of Excellence, the Laphroaig 30yo (of course), Adelphi's 'Breath of Islay' and the 'Smoking Islay' from Blackadder. All others were considerably older or didn't have an age statement, so this year's 'Pressure Cooker Award' goes to the powerhouse Laphroaig - although we originally invented this award to give low proof malts a shot as well. Davin wrote: 'If only every Islayer was this great'.

Laphroaig 1996/2006 (55,7%, Whisky Doris, Bourbon C#5366, 120 Bts.)
The only independent Laphroaig in this year's competition did almost as well as its official brothers.
Michel wrote: 'Nose: Quite smoky, gun powder, some lemon skin, hints on washing powder, nutmeg, mace. Develops fresh tobacco leaves, vanilla, hints on copper, some mango. Water brings out a gritty feel which disappears quite quickly. Leather and faint notes on ammonia, while a stronger vanilla butter adds on. Palate: Less expressive than the nose suggested. Compact mouth feel, subtle smoke, lemon skin, slightly metallic. Water brings out more notes on butter and vanilla. Hints of moss and ferns. Finish: Subtle smoke and peat, some white pepper, lemon skin and hints on lemon juice'.

Laphroaig 15yo (43%, OB, Ref L00994, Bottled +/- 2006)
TOP PEATED DRAM AWARD 2006  Davin thought that this might be a Japanese whisky during the blind tastings.
Luc guessed this was the Caol Ila Distillers Edition and wrote: 'Nice dram, highly enjoyable and drinkable'. Well, they were both wrong as to WHAT they were tasting, but with their nominations for solid silver they were right on the mark. This one even received two votes for gold (from Serge and Bert). Not quite as much as the 30yo (which got votes for gold from Serge, Ho-cheng, Robert and myself) but enough to beat rivals like the Lagavulin 16yo by a fair margin.
Craig wrote: 'Sherry & sour plums, tobacco, leather, smoky oak, peat ...  Might even be a Brora or a sherried Bowmore'.

Laphroaig 30yo (43%, OB, Ref LQ0167, Bottled +/- 2006)
This bottling did actually very, very well (it was the sixth highest scoring silver medal winner) and was a candidate for several awards. Unfortunately, this year there simply were 'better' candidates in the 'regional' and 'style' categories (and the price puts it outside the 'daily drams' range). Craig wrote: 'Lovely complex nose; smoked paprika, pastrami, polished floors, char grilled vegetables. Big rich sweet & smokey palate, sherry BBQ meat and sour cherries - super complex. Finish lets it down a bit with charred meat, bit of tar, lingering oak and a slightly bitter woodiness. Intriguing though - I'd love to try it again'. Ho-cheng simply wrote: 'Peaty sherry notes, Old ... Very enjoyable palate. Straight the best'.

Linkwood 15yo (43%, G&M Licensed bottling, Bottled +/- 2006)
Craig loved this Linkwood (91 points) and wrote: 'Nice sherry from different woods. Toffee, honey, tropical fruit and banana and coconut. Palate unctuous, oiled wood some woody spiciness (nutmeg, cinnamon) and toffee. Finish has some fresh pineapple, banana, honey, oak and metal, Oh, Oh, Oh. This is great stuff - Springbank or Glenlivet and 25 year plus'. Well, not quite Craig - but I agree this is indeed a good dram! I guess at just 43% it's one of those malts that had a relatively tough time in a largely overproof field. Robert wrote: 'Feels like a finished one. Over matured a little slimey plums is there. Some wood, some tobacco? Taste reminiscent of the nose. That special sweetness turns me slightly off'.

Loch Fyne 'The Living Cask' (59%, LFW, Bottled September 2003)
This bottling is a vatting of Brora 1981 with Glenlivet 1976, Married 2002, Bottled September 2003, 300 Bts.)
Craig gave it 83 points and wrote: 'Straw early then spirit, honey oak and honey coated peanuts. Sweet palate with honey, some sour grass. Solid honey and oak in finish. Might be Bruichladdich. Needs some water, gets nicer with a splash'.
Luc (85 points) wrote: 'Nose: Alcoholic, flowery (yellow) nose, some beer yeast, nice mineral undertone, mellow malty undertone, quite some honey & nuts (almonds) too, nice. Taste: Strong bold taste, malty sweet, honey, bread crust, mineral, sugary, nice. Finish: Nice long development, it gets a bit hot... but still nice malty, mineral sweetness, simple but nice'.

Lochnagar 28yo 1977/2005 (58,5%, Blackadder, Hogshead #310, 260 Bts.)
Serge voted for solid gold for this one - but he was the only one on the jury. With eight other jurors voting for silver, that's the final 'verdict'. I should probably add that everybody agreed this was medal material - Craig and Ho-cheng gave the lowest score with 81 points. Michel (86 points) wrote: 'Nose: Fairly delicate. malts, honey, some alcohol and house hold spirit. Clean sulphur, licorice & oak, some orange peel emerges, Faint notes on black pepper. cinnamon, chervil'. Luc's notes on the nose say: 'Nice fruity aromas of peches, lychee melted with malted barley, vanilla, all very creamy, crême brulée, a touch of white oak, nice.  His overall comments were: 'Nice dram but you feel it does not really deliver'.

Lochside 42yo 1963 (45,2%, DL, The Clan Deny, Grain whisky, C#HH243)
AENEAS COFFEY AWARD 2006   With nine votes for silver there wasn't much calculating required here.
Well, at least not to figure out the medal - on the 'awards' front we first overlooked it for the AC Award 2006.
It's a grain whisky though. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Marshmallow, grain, vanilla, pear drops, chervil, liquorice, hints on rosemary, some smoke, orange jelly. Dried meat, copper. Hints of smoked lard on rye bread. Palate: The rosemary starts to dominate now, marshmallows, vanilla, some black pepper. A tad too much dried herbs in this one, leaning towards 4711. Some stale passion fruit lemonade, hazelnut cream. Finish: Cinnamon, slightly green oak, a tad tannic feel, black pepper'.

Longmorn 1972 (45%, G&M Licenced Bottling, C#1088) 
Olivier was one of the people to nominate this for gold and he even suggested the 'Licensed To Kill Award'.
Luc was thrilled by the finish, writing: 'Long and sweet, melting chocolate with a whiff of pepper, a touch of bitter wood (but nice) and a touch of dry ending, but soo great, really'. Davin wrote: 'Gooseberry jam on dark toast served on a rubber plate'. Hey, that doesn't sound too appetising, does it? How about my own notes then? 'Rich, woody, sherried & fruity. Hint of smoke? Now that's more like it… Beautifully composed on the palate too; a delicate balance between wood and fruits. Touch of leather. Antiquity. Almost like a cognac. It gradually rose into the 90's. Grows the wood too overpowering after a while?'

Longmorn 36yo 1970/2006 (56,1%, TWE TSMOS, Sherry cask #28, 255 Bts.)
If you're wondering what the abbreviation TWE TSMOS means: that's The Whisky Exchange and their range 'The
Single Malts of Scotland'. These two Longmorns earned nearly identical average scores, but if you're one to nit-pick
this one earned a few decimal micropoints more. Luc voted for gold on both of them and wrote: 'Nose: Nice malty,
apples & pears, apple compote with a layer of sugar, a nice zilty touch too, clean and simple but nice. Palate: Creamy
sweet, fruity and a bit exotic even, some lychees in there that makes if very fresh & nice, rewardingly clean and sweet'
.
Ho-cheng wrote: 'Citrus and fruity feel. Kind of weak though. Nice old malt but a little over the edge. Yet stilll enjoyable'.

Longrow 13yo 1993 (57,1%, OB, MacMhuirich, Currie & Wilkinson, C#635)
You might think that a malt with six votes for silver would indeed reach an average of a silver medal, but in this case it's a little more complicated. Only four people voted for bronze; Serge is usually pretty generous but he really didn't like this one and Luc thought he found Bowmore 'FWP' here, scoring it at 70 points. Craig didn't nominate it for a medal either, so the average score ended up around 83 points; bronze medal territory. Michel wrote: 'Nose: A tad shy at first, lemon skin, subtle malts, leather. Some smoke & charcoal, linseed oil, white pepper. Mellow oak. Added water brings out vomit, tough not that bad... tea leaves, hints on cedar wood. Keeps on developing. Rather diffuse styled whisky'.

Macallan 14yo 1991/2005 (46%, The Alchemist)
With five votes for silver (Serge, Olivier, Davin, Krishna & Peter) this came very close - but not quite there...
Craig (80 points) wrote: 'Peach and candy then paper and cardboard, fruit syrup - solid, without being inspired. Sweet and then sour with cherries and berries, some woody phenols but clean. Finish starts with syrup, then wood ashes, warming and metallic some sour fruit'. Robert (76 points) wrote: 'A little spirity, light, grassy, flowery and some citrus. Feels like a Lowlander or perhaps a grain. Turns rounder after some oxidation. Taste is also light, more cereal, but a little spirity & closed. Not to my high liking but reasonably nice'. Well yes, Robert - that's why everybody else nominated it for a medal ;-)

Macallan 1991/2006 (56,4%, Jean Boyer, BCoS, Sherry cask)
Opinions about this Macallan were strongly divided, ranging from 71 points (Ho-cheng) to 91 points (Davin).
Davin was the only one to vote for gold this time, writing: 'Such a fabulous nose, and that's just the beginning...'.
Robert wrote: 'Dark and broody style on this one. Cardamom, dark bitter chocolate, nuts, winey tones. Heavy sherry influence. Taste shows dried fruits strongly, nuts, spices galore. But after all this it still turns a little dry. Makes me
wonder at the age. This is a really good sherry maturation and haven't turned too offensive but it was a close call!'
.
Just the same, the average score was nearly identical to that of the 'Alchemist' bottling.

Macallan 25yo 1981/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 357 Bts.)
This came in as the top scoring bronze medal for Macallan - but then again it's a decade older than the other two.
Robert (who gave the lowest score of 72 points) wrote: 'Quite interesting nose with fresh dry citrus, very light pears, lime and hay. Smoke too - didn't expect that. Tastewise no traces of the perhaps imagined smoke, turns malty a little edgy, very little fruit left from the nose and it turns a little sour at the end. The nose was more promising than the end result, unfortunately'. Craig liked it better with 80 points and wrote: 'Lowland or Campbeltown nose - citrus oil, plaster of paris, stone dust, quinine, lemon/grapefruit - lots of piney notes in palate spirit in back palate warming and slightly bitter finish'.

Macallan 30yo 1976/2006 (45,3%, Adelphi, C#2749, 206 Bts.)
SPEYSIDE AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 2006   All jurors that sampled this dram agreed it was medal material.
This came in as the 5th highest scoring whisky (and the 3d highest scoring Scottish whisky) in the MM Awards 2006.
Looking at our records, I don't think any official bottling of Macallan ever won a gold medal, so that's a nice little victory for the independent bottlers this year. Davin rewarded it with 92 points and wrote: 'Complex nose, bizarre palate'.
I wrote: 'Roasted, opening up quickly. Toffee. Polished wood in the nose and on the palate. Wonderful combination of wood
and fruits, maybe just lacks a touch of cohesion & depth. Theine (tea tannins) in the finish? Needs a slightly higher proof?
'.

Nikka 15yo 'Miyagikyo' (45%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan)
With a whopping seven medal winners this year, Nikka was one of the big winners of the 2006 MM Awards.
This expression wasn't among our favorites, although Michel voted for gold, writing 'Nose: Nice & fruity. Ripe Gaja melon, oily sweetness, orange jelly, black pepper. Then some smoke emerges, the orange jelly gets more intense, chalk, canvas. Water brings out some lovely black pepper, dried sausages, roast beef, Palate: Oily body. Opens up with prepared pumpkin and Schezuan pepper, lovely fruity burn. Quite some oak but all stays enjoyable. Finish: Some citrus skin now ... Nice one!'.
Robert (82 points) wrote: 'Plain tasty ... Very drinkable ... A nice not too old every day malt I'd say (or hope)'.

Nikka 15yo 'Yoichi' (45%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan)
This turned out to be our third favorite Nikka bottling - a 'Yoichi' just like the 20yo and 1985 versions.
Everybody agreed this earned a medal with four votes for bronze, eight for silver and one (Michel) for gold.
Michel wrote: 'Nose: Rather nice, resinous, some peat, sherry, rum raisins, hints on bubble gum, very faint rose water, chartreuse. Carries quite some smoke, lovely fruits, quince jelly, mango, straw, pollen. Later on some dried leather, ply wood, Palate: As the nose, a tad peaty, honey, fudge, caramel, pastry. After a while there's also great fruits. mango, quince, tobacco, old wax, pineapple jam, hints on varnish. Finish: Great bitterness, black pepper, green oak, raisins, tobacco leaves'.

Nikka 17yo 'Taketsuru' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan)
Craig wrote: 'Dry, stone dust papery, dry mud (wasp nest), fruit syrup, creamy American oak pineapple and cream. Syrup, syrup, fruit oak and more syrup. Clean speyside metal and fruit - clean and bitter'. Robert wrote: 'Nose: Lots of varnish and resin. Lots of oak as well, ply wood, leather, orange peel, Turkish delight, some Sherry Amontillado fruit as well. hazelnut chocolate. The note of old Flor gets stronger. Walnuts, Palate: There's a lot of soapy oak now. peppery as well. peppered mango, quite tannic mouth feel. This one is a bit over oaked... Finish: Some oaky bitterness combined with some sharpness and a oily, flimsy mouth feel. Malts, fruitic tannins. Perhaps a faint trace of smoke? There's just to much oak for its own good.'.

Nikka 1989/2006 'Miyagikyo' (58%, OB, Warehouse #24, C#108645, Japan)
Overall, these 'Miyagikyo' bottlings didn't do quite as well as the 'Yoichi' versions but this one won solid silver.
Actually, Luc voted for gold and with 89 points I came very close as well. I wrote 'Heavy, woody, smoky in the nose. Some organics over time. Sweet, fruity and woody on the palate. Great body. Right up my alley. During round two I still was impressed and highly entertained. The overly woody character pushed it just outside the 90's, though... 89 points it is'.
Craig wrote: 'Meat, toffee, old books, roast beef, red wine vinegar, some undercooked onions skins - nose is super complex. Palate is bitey with metal and charred nuts, more onions and quite spiritty. Nutty onions in tail. Nose is silver rest is not'.

Nikka 20yo 'Yoichi' (52%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan)
'Only' the fourth Japanese whisky to win a gold medal this year, receiving 'only' six nominations for gold.
With 'only' 89 points I found myself at the edge of the silver medal camp, but it could easily have gone the other way.
I wrote: 'Woody & polished. Some funky organics, a tad medicinal. Very nice, but it doesn't quite deliver on the palate what
the nose suggests. Just a tad watery with something medicinal. Not quite a gold medal. It comes extremely close, though
'
.
Ho-cheng (90 points) wrote: 'A very smoky one. Black chocolate, match box, smoke palate. A little weird, yet still good'.
Davin also voted for gold (91 points) and commented with: 'Lovely coastal notes on rich sherry'.

Nikka 21yo 'Taketsuru' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan)
This version is a smidgen older than the 20yo 'Yoichi' but it doesn't quite earn the same cracking score.
Still, Peter voted for gold and eight other jurors scored it in the upper 80's. That makes this solid silver medal material. Craig wrote: 'Sawn pine and cedar, mint toffee and wood shavings - Sour fruit and wood - lots of vanilla & toffee (Werther's Original or Jersey Caramels). Palate is rich and oaky with some sour grassiness lots of caramel and dried mint. Finish starts with soursobs, grass and then tails into vanilla, cream and rainwater. Could even be a grain whisky could even be Irish - any chance it's an Irish Grain whisky?'. Erm, no Craig - but it was indeed a Foreign whisky so you were on the right track,

Nikka 1985 'Yoichi' (58%, OB, Warehouse #15, C#250241, Japan)
This Japanese whisky caused some feelings of alienation amongst the jurors. Davin loved it most of all with 93 points and wrote: 'Sweet, peat & heat. Simply fabulous!'. Three others (Serge, Peter and Michel) voted for gold as well, but Bert went as low as 58 points. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Spicy sherry, some smoke, gun powder, humus, damp forest floor and some soap in the background. Wax, peppery orange, oak and lime while added water brings out some more smoke. Palate: Great smoky notes on sherry. Lime, prepared pumpkin and ginger, cedar wood, black pepper, fermeted prunes and some lily of the valey incence. Finish: Great smoke, wasabi, pepper, resin, cedar wood. With added water great added notes on peat'.

Peat Reek NAS (46%, Blackadder, Bottled 2005, Cask Ref BA10573)
Two Blackadder 'Peat Reak' bottlings for Sun Favorite in Taiwan won solid silver medals last year, but they were cask strength expressions. I'm not sure if the jurors were spoilt by the large number of overproof Islay malts in this year's competition, but at 'just' 46% this batch didn't make quite as much of an impression as last year's Blackadder entries.  Robert wrote: 'Peat all over the place. Malty and slight traces of fruits. Taste is pure peat but more fruits than the nose which makes it bearable ;-). Spicey and cereal also. Quite simple but not for faint-hearted people I guess'.
Well, at 46% it didn't scare some peatheads on the jury enough, I guess ;-)

Port Ellen 23yo 1983/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 716 Bts.)
Three Port Ellens were entered into the competition this year - and all three of them won a solid silver medal.
Strangely enough this expression earned a slightly lower average score than the other two, although it received the largest number of nominations for gold. The scores in the 90's came from Serge, Luc, Krishna and Ho-cheng, who wrote: 'Minty & light peat. Balanded with some fruits. Enjoyable & easy'. I found it relatively 'easy' as well and wrote 'Light, sweet & a little malty. The peat only shows itself after a few 'farmy' minutes. Rotting grass. Growing complexity and more wood on the (slightly watery) palate. Tannins - but not the really 'good' ones... Hey, Something slightly medicinal!'.

Port Ellen 24yo 1978/2002 '2nd Release' (54.3%, OB, 12000 Bts.)
Solid silver for this OB and Serge even voted for gold. In fact, the complete jury agreed this was medal material. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Finely grounded spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, white pepper. Some smoke, damp cotton. Apple pie, pastry. Grows some peaty notes, a more powerful white pepper. Added water zooms in on nutmeg, dried bay leaves, hints on cardboard and vanilla. Some beer as well. Later on it returns to apples anf lemon infued fudge. Palate: Peat, some phospathes, fudge, orange skin, white pepper, subtle notes on vanilla. A subtle soapy feel, subtle notes on canvas, tobacco leaves. Finish: Quite a burn, cooked rawit peppers. Added water brings some vanilla and sweet malts'.

Port Ellen 26yo 1979/2005 (56,9%, Blackadder, Sherry C#2015, 497 Bts.)
This Blackadder bottling earned the highest average score of the three Port Ellens, although the difference with the 23yo OMC and the 24yo OB was minimal. There were differences in the number of 'gold nominations' though. This one received three (Serge, Krishna & Luc) while the 24yo OB got just 1 - although the full jury decided on medals for both. Although this wasn't such a good year for Port Ellen as 2004 (they won two gold medals then) this one came close. Craig wrote: 'Grass, sour fruit spirit & BBQ pineapple. Syrup in palate, pineapple & powdered lemon, rubber, coal tar.
Charry fruit, fruit bitters, metal, pith & nut skins - quite odd. Might be an Islay or something like Longrow or Ledaig'
.

Probably Speyside's Finest 40yo 1965/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC)
MULTIPLE PERSONALITY AWARD 2006   (Undisclosed distillery, Sherry cask matured, 539 Bottles)
There was quite a bit of discussion among the judges before it received an award, but its status as the fourth highest scoring silver medal winner this year was undisputed. In fact, five maniacs (Olivier, Krishna, Craig, Luc and me) voted for gold here. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Leather, salmiac, dried garden herbs, some raisins, marmalade, dried apricot, dates. Goes on with almonds, hints on humus, pineapple jam. Added water brings out cooked lemon leaves, warm cotton, honey, Palate: Fudge, hints on coffee, caramel, black pepper, lime skin, licorice, oily malts. Seems a tad soapy, subtle hints of lavender'.

Rosebank 14yo 1991/2006 (46%, TWE TSMOS, Bourbon C#2024, 305 Bts.)
Four votes for silver (Serge, Luc, Bert and myself) were not enough to actually help it achieve a silver medal.
Serge wrote: 'Nose: Very fresh, starting with lots of lemon & tangerines as well as hints of wet stones and mineral water. Then it gets a little rounder (apple compote) and nicely flowery (wildflowers, buttercups, lilac). Develops on notes of ginger tonic, cider apples, walnut bur, getting then rather grassier (un-sugared green tea, ...). Hints of cold ham, fresh butter and mangos, getting finally slightly farmy. Mouth: a rather perfect attack on lemon marmalade and tea. Breakfast? Goes on with lemons, tangerines and grapefruits, not too ripe kiwis) ...'. Yeah, as usual I had to cut Serge short again ;-)

Rosebank 1990/2005 (46%, Berry Brothers, C#1518/1519/1520)
Just like the other Rosebank 1990 in this year's competition it received 1 vote for silver (Craig) and a vast majority voting for bronze. Craig wrote: 'Lemon oil, quinine, tequila, wood phenols, bitter lemon, pineapple, thin runny honey, tonic water. Very clean nose - rainwater and fresh pineapple. Smooth syruppy with honey, toffee bittter lemon and rainwater. Toffee rainwater and bitter lemon in finish - very interesting and a lot of fun.'. Just like me, Robert was one of the 'dissidents' (no medal nomination), writing: 'Very light, a little pears, malt & perfume. Taste is quite anonymous, a little pears, a little alcohol, a little malt. All in all a little good (and probably best enjoyed on a very hot summer day)'.

Rosebank 1990/2006 (61,1%, Gordon & MacPhail Cask, C#1605 & 1606)
This bottling that was matured in refill sherry butts received one vote for silver (Krishna) and nine for bronze.
Luc voted near the average score (82 points) and wrote: 'Nose: Fresh citrus nose, quite some vitamin C in this one, fresh nature, freshly cut grass, spring in the glass, a touch of lime on mineral notes, nice. Palate: Nice full peppery malty taste with a good undertone of citrus, lime, very fresh and refreshing, really a spring dram. Finish: Nice development, a bit dry on wood, but the limezest, fresh aroma's are nice but at the end you get a bit of cork/wood on the aftertaste, mmmm. Conclusion: Nice dram, drink and enjoy, just a touch of wood/cork that is a bit troubling me at the end... '.

Saint Magdalene 23yo 1982/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 329 Bts.)
LOWLANDS AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 2006   In previous years we received so few recommendable entries from Campbeltown and the Lowlands that we simply threw them together for the 'Lowlands & Kintyre Award of Excellence'. However, this year we've had a string of recommendable malts from both regions, so we felt it was time to give each region its 'own' reward. And thus, this Saint Magdalene hopped out of the shadow of the Springbank from Signatory to claim its rightful place as the highest scoring Lowland (malt) whisky. Michel wrote: 'Mashed potatoes, melted anchor butter, mango, leather, humus, mushrooms, honey, straw, traces of peat, wax, salmiac. White pepper, cardamom' for the nose.

Secret Stills 'Loch Indaal' 1989/2006 (45%, G&M, Distillery #4, 650 Bts.)
Actually, the full name for this bottling is 'Oldest distillery on Islay on the shores of Loch Indaal' and this was the first release in this particular series. Two votes for gold (Ho-cheng and Peter) and seven for silver put this comfortably in the silver bracket. I personally gave it 88 points and wrote: 'Even with an overload of water it performed very well. Leather? Smoke? Woody, enjoyable palate. Maybe just a tad too woody for the 90's? The nose has a unique austere quality that I love - but much lighter than some Ardbegs from the early 1970's. The 'austerity' (and antiquity?) on the palate is beautiful but maybe it feels just a a tad thin...'. Well, as it turns out this was much younger than I thought!

Single Islay Malt 10yo 1992/2003 (40%, G&M for Bar Metro Milan)
Just like the '2004' bottling this received one vote for gold, but not wide enough support to actually make it to silver. Actually, it averaged out a bit lower than that later bottling. The 'golden boy' was Peter this time with 90 points. Bottled in 2003 this is hardly a 'fresh' release, but with 'generous Serge' acting as a boatsman a few bottlings that didn't strictly apply to all the rules (like: being a RECENT bottling) managed to sneak into the competition.
Craig wrote: 'Smells Irish; weird fruitiness with grassy palate, slightly woody phenolic in finish then sour cream.'.
Funny... The first things that hit me in this malt were peat and smoke - hardly typical 'Irish' characteristics ;-)

Single Islay Malt 10yo (52,6%, G&M for Bar Metro Milan, Bottled 2004)
Although it received a nomination for gold from Luc (who thought this could be a Brora) it earned bronze.
Very solid bronze, though... the average score was a few whole points higher than that for the 2003 bottling.
Luc wrote: 'Nose: Fresh aroma's, a bit mineral, dusty peaty, quite some farmy aroma's underneath & cardboardy, lime, lemon, youthful, spring in the glass, I like it. Palate: Fresh cereal, fresh air, lime, lemon, again much of the spring, reminds me of Clynelish with peat, grapefruit zest on sugar, very nice & powerful. Finish: Nice, long sweet-hot lime development, mineral salty undertone ... soo nice and long yummie yummie. Overall, I like it, good stuff, nice peaty and clean farmy'.

Smoking Islay NAS (55%, Blackadder, Cask ref BA2005/213, Bottled 2005)
LOVE-IT-OR-HATE-IT-AWARD 2006   Out of the bottles that were submitted by Blackadder this year this came out
on top with a very solid silver medal. Three jurors voted for gold (Krishna, Ho-cheng & Luc), but six other felt that silver was more appropriate. Ho-cheng wrote: 'Peaty & nutty, medium body. Bitter. However quite balanced'. Agreed, Ho-cheng; this had some rough spots but went down very well altogether. Luc wrote: 'Good Caol Ila, nice drinkability'. Well, I guess we'll never know if this is a Caol Ila Luc - the name of the distillery is not given on the label. Could be. I've personally never found Caol Ila that 'smoky', but it seems few maniacs actually found that here anyway.

Speyside 1991/2006 'Sauternes Finish' (50%, Celtic Connexion, 297 Bts.)
SUPREME WARPED CASK AWARD 2006   (Double Matured, Bourbon & Sauternes, 297 Bts.) The big international surprise came from Japan this year, but Celtic Connexion caused a small French sensation as well. First of all, because it's... well, French ;-)  A whisky by a French bottler, finished in a French cask. AND it was a relatively young 'bastard' whisky to boot. You might not think that it had a fair shot at winning a medal at the MM Awards, but as it now turns out you would be wrong. In fact, four jurors (Serge, Davin, Peter, Robert and myself) actually voted for a gold. Luc wrote on the nose: 'Reminds me of the Choco-de-Luxe expression from our office Douwe Egberts Coffee machine.'.

Springbank 36yo 1970/2006 (53,1%, Signatory, Sherry C#1629, 461 Bts.)
CAMPBELTOWN AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 2006   After their younger OB's failed to make a big impression at the Malt Maniacs Awards in 2003, Springbank never returned to the competition. Fortunately the independent bottlers have some excellent stocks of their own, proven by this oldie from Signatory Vintage that earned the 11th highest average score. Davin loved it and commented: 'Woody and tannic and ever so scrumptious. Down right chewable'. Krishna (who correctly identified it as a Springbank in the blind tasting wrote: 'Like being in an old leather shop' and my own notes also said: 'Leather, old book store'. And of course Luc thought: 'this is so good it must be a Glenfarclas' ;-)

Talimburg 32yo 1972/2005 Rum Finish (45,2%, TWF, C#1568, 146 Bts.)
Here's another expression in The Whisky Fair's 'Talimburg' private bottlings, in this case from a refill hogshead.
Robert wrote: 'Elegant peat, fruits (pears), somewhat winey and traces of exotic fruit. Taste is elegant, balanced, on the sweet side with a long aftertaste. It is there that dried tones of peat arrives. Leather & malty sweetness. This is good stuff'. Right, Robert - and Serge, Ho-cheng, Bert and myself even voted for gold. I wrote: 'Exquisite! Sweet, polished & balanced in the nose. Lemon zest? Developing organics. Something medicinal? Smoke on the palate - and a pinch of peat? Great wood. Never boring; another side of its personality to show every minute. After half an hour the organics are just beautiful'.

Talisker 1992/2006 (58,8%, Jean Boyer One Shot Collection)
With five votes for silver and six for bronze this one almost made it to silver. In fact, Serge came closest of all to gold with 89 points and wrote: 'A very fresh and powerful start of the nose on freshly cut apples and yoghurt, farmyard, kelp and soaked grain. Quite sharp and, as they say, uncompromising. Also notes of green tea, walnut skin and wet stone plus hints of cider and crushed sorrel leaves. With water: gets grassier, more mineral, flinty… The peat starts to shine through (smells like floor maltings at the end of the process) as well as sea elements (shells, seaweed). Still quite austere in style, which I like'. He then went on for quite a bit about the palate as well, but as you can see we're out of room now...

Talisker NAS '175th Anniversary' (45,8%, OB, Bottled 2005?)
Comments: Oddly enough, the 'same' bottling managed to earn a silver medal (and the Internal Combustion Award) at the 2005 edition of the MM Awards only earned bronze this time. Since this is a special 'anniversary' bottling I assume they only made one batch, so batch variation couldn't be the cause. Puzzling - but with six votes for bronze that's it. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Tobacco leaves, subtle cedar wood, black pepper, over-ripe mango, some humus and sharp oak. Sweetened orange juice, overall a farmy feel. Palate: As the nose suggested, lots of over-ripe mango, peppery lime skin, some peat, damp oak. A slightly herbal mouth feel, aspirin. Oily smoke. Finish: Malts, stale vanilla, black pepper, beer'.

Talisker 18yo (45,8%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
INTERNAL COMBUSTION AWARD 2006  This bottling received slightly less support than the '2005' edition of the 25yo but it still came in as our second favorite Talisker. Craig was the only one NOT to nominate it for a medal: he wrote: 'Toffee, fudge meat, roast meat, burnt lamb fat, pyrethrum, dry wood - bit boring. Palate has toffee then sour leaf and sherry, mores leaves and leather in the finish then zingy metal and some charry, tarry notes - tingly fruit comes back. Bit boring on the nose, bit odd everywhere else'. Well, let's just say that we'll have to agree to disagree here, Craig...  I liked it and just like Robert I found some light peat on the palate (more than I used to find in Taliskers, if I remember correctly).

Talisker 25yo (57,8%, OB, Refill Casks, Bottled 2004, 21000 Bts.)
Working through our notes for the medal winners this year I suddenly noticed that this bottling was also submitted last year. And just like last year, it ended up with an average at the bottom end of the 'silver' scale. New kids on the block Bert and Thomas both voted for gold, but the support for the '2005' edition of the 25yo Talisker was wider. Thomas wrote: 'Nose: Maritime and salty - a Northern Highlands nose, very Brora-like. Starts on seaweed and sea spray until the malty sweetness fights its way through, accompanied by some oiliness. Very late a faint, extremely pleasant reminder of peat. Excellently balanced! Palate: Just mouthwatering! An absolute winner in my book!'.

Talisker 25yo (57,2%, OB, Refill Casks, Bottled 2005, 15600 Bts.)
ISLANDS AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 2006   Well, here we have a classic example of batch variation at work...
Both 25yo Taliskers that were submitted earned a silver medal, but this one earned a notably higher average score than its '2004' predecessor. In fact, this later release received four votes for gold, making it the 7th highest scoring silver medal winner (and top scoring Talisker). Ho-cheng wrote: 'Makes you want to have another dram immediately'.
Craig wrote: 'Wood, tar, peanuts, spirit and peat. Leather, nutskins some sour autumn leaves and resin - might be a Lagavulin? - Grassy palate lots of old fireplaces and green grass in the finish - could be a peated Irish - but very nice'.

Tamdhu 15yo 1991 (60%, Adelphi, C#1955, 257 Bts.)
Krishna LOVED this whisky with 94 points and wrote: 'Medicinal, like B- Complex syrup, never had this before'.
Davin didn't get quite as carried away, but just like a few other jurors he still went for the very top of silver (89 points) and called it 'Liquid Ecstasy'. Michel found (among other things) 'Earthy, nettle juice, cooked parsley, organics, damp oak, autumn forest, mace, green curry sauce, rose water, cherries, mango, orange sauce, pineapple jam' - in the nose alone... Craig wrote: 'Sherbet, citrus, bubblegum & candy, sweet unguent, woody phenols lightly toffeed. Palate is sweet with musk candy, sweet caramelised onions some leather & some tart berries. Finish has some odd winey notes - maybe port wood'

The Glenlivet 16yo 'Nàdurra' (57,2%, OB, Bottled 6/2006, Batch #0606A)
Even though Krishna voted for gold and five others for silver it didn't receive wide enough support for a silver medal. Robert wrote: 'Exceptional pear-based fruitiness. Very concentrated, makes it bourbony & artificial. Huge vanilla. Sugary. Candy and tutti-frutti. Taste is reminiscent of nose with extreme notes of vanilla and pears. An utterly simple dram. Like a Nadurra but more in your face and stronger. If you like pears, you like this'. Hey... This actually IS a Nadurra, Robert. Good call! Meanwhile, Davin thought: 'Luxurious, malty, linseed oil, cigarette tobacco, clean dry grain, and something fruity in the nose. Very sweet & malty palate with vanilla, hard candies, hints of citrus fruits followed late on with hints of chocolate. ...'.

The Glenlivet 21yo 'Archive' (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Serge, Luc and Robert felt this malt (Batch 40174) was worthy of silver, but six other judges voted for bronze.
With three more placing it just out of medal range it still came up with a good solid bronze medal. Davin felt it didn't quite have the the oomph some maniacs look for, while Michel wrote: 'Nose: Some very nice honey, oily malts, waxy orange skin, black pepper. Water brings out fine grounded spices. Nutmeg, mace, marzipan, the oak seems to take over a bit, together with sweet onions. Palate: Soapy & orange skin. Hints on heather, oily malts. water brings out a flimsy, oily feel. Vanilla sauce, orange sweets. Finish: Leaves a very nice & enjoyable flimsy, oily feel. Mandarin cream, subtle black pepper'.

The Ileach NAS (40%, OB, Islay single malt, Bottled +/- 2006)
The Ileach seemed like a solid medal winner for everybody except Luc - who gave it a paltry 71 points.
At 92 points, Craig was the most enthusiastic juror, with Bert following closely at 90 points. Three silver nominations and seven bronzes guarantee it's a winner - despite the low ABV. Davin felt this could be a Caol Ila (I think you could be right there, Davin) and wrote: 'A very peaty dram on the nose with sweet and sour licorice it comes out with buckets of peat on the palate as well.  There's lots of smoke and ashes in there, but it seems a bit watery.  Too bad.  Lots of spiciness develops on the edges of the tongue, and it's just a little sweet and caramelly. Nice, but too weak'.

Tomintoul 16yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
There was a bit of a hung jury on this Tomintoul with eight jurors nominating it for medals but five not.
Still, it gathered enough points for Bronze. Davin wasn't entirely sure it was whisky and wrote: 'The nose is a bit closed but displays a grassy, fruity almost artificial plasticy scent. On the palate the sherry dominates but it's just a tad bitter.  Overall kind of nice and kind of unusual'. Robert seemed to have some problems with this Tomintoul too, writing: 'Pleasant integrated nose. Sherry influenced, winey, some exotic fruit? Pretty sweet and nougat/nuts. Taste is weird, sour apples? Thin and short. Very disappointing compared to the nose which scored silver, all in all no medal from me'.

Tomintoul 27yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Older isn't necessarily better, but in the case of Tomintoul this one earned a notably higher score than the 16yo
that more or less limped into bronze medal territory. In fact, Davin was the only juror not to nominate it for a medal. Michel wrote: 'Nose: Nice, pear juice, slightly dusty malts, pineapple, hints on coconut. Slowly turning to passion fruit, pineapple jam, faint peach and nectarine, white pepper, Palate: A bit less sweet than expected. Still carries enough dried fruits to be interesting. Dried apricots and prunes, lemon skin, subtle mandarin, quince. With water there seems to be a touch of peat or humus. Finish: orange skin, black pepper, subtle burn, eucalyptus and juicy malts. Very nice'.

Tomintoul 38yo 1967/2005 (49,2%, Adelphi, C#4485)
The oldest of three medal winning Tomintouls, this very nearly made it to a silver medal with five votes for silver and even one for gold (from Bert). According to Davin 'the nose was acidic and sweet at the same time with notes of icing sugar and very sweet fruit esters. Quite complex with notes of wood, hints of spice that turned into cinnamon, then dust, and sweet tobacco. On the palate it started out bitter but with a nice rich mouth feel quickly developing. Again there was a mixture of interwoven flavours with sweet licorice, mint, ripe kiwi fruit, then green Christmas tree candies. Later the torrefaction notes crept in with chocolate and bitter burned coffee, ...'.  Ehm right... I'll have to cut you off there, Davin ;-)

Wilson & Morgan 1997/2005 'House Malt' (43%, W&M, C#8586-8589)
This highly affordable 'bastard' malt from Italian bottler Wilson & Morgan seems to do well each year - although the casks are different each time. Last year's version won a bronze medal (the second highest scoring one) despite six votes for silver. This year it had just enough support for silver. In fact, Luc was the only maniac that didn't nominate it for a medal. Robert wrote: 'Fiery smoke and flowers (interesting combination). Quite the tough one, sour smoke. Could this be a Caol Ila? Smoke and peat dominates, quite simple yet strong. Something for the Ileach within us all'.  Caol Ila, Robert? Could very well be - but we'll never know for sure, unfortunately...

Yamazaki 12yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 75cl)
One of no less than five Yamazaki bottlings to win a medal this year, this came out at the bottom.
That's all relative, mind you... Michel and Thomas voted for silver and three of the votes for bronze (Olivier, Krishna and Bert) were for the thickest bronze possible with 84 points. Craig wrote: 'Orange blossom, varnish, wood polish, cream & cherries cream & liquorice. OK'. So far so good - but then he guessed 'Commercial Speyside, 40-43%'. Well, you got the proof right, Craig ;-)  The fact that amazes me the most is that the Japanese seem to be able to re-create (or at least approach) the style of many of the famous Scottisch regions. They even have a few big bad peat monsters there!

Yamazaki 1991/2005 (56%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 70cl)
This Yamazaki received five votes for gold and five for silver. That left it hanging in the balance between gold and silver, but Craig and Luc both gave it a 'thumbs down'. Ho-cheng did vote for gold (together with Davin, Krishna, Peter and myself) and wrote: 'Malty, Medium peat, Iodine. Dry palate. Finished well'.  Robert was in the silver camp and wrote: 'Nose is very enjoyable with fruity sweetness, oily and a little buttery. Yet somehow dry, laid-back spices and earthy tones. Also elegant notes of clean smoke? Taste is more cereal than fruity. Some vanilla but to me slighty chemical. Smoke is very difficult to find, an integrated difficult dram. Enjoyable? Definitely!'.

Yamazaki 18yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 75cl)
While the 12yo and 18yo 'Hakushu' bottlings from Suntory received an identical average score (83 points), the difference between the 12yo and 18yo Yamazakis is much more pronounced, with averages of 81 and 84 points respectively. This version came close to winning a silver medal (it received five votes for silver and one for gold), although it wasn't nearly as popular as the 25yo. Robert found the nose 'Somewhat slimey & saturated'. Meanwhile, Craig wrote: 'Whistle clean bourbon nose that hangs around. Something that screams Scotch grain to me - an old one. Incredibly solid in the glass even after 45+ minutes. Excellent stuff, but the vanilla & insistent cedar gets a bit too much'

Yamazaki 1984/2005 (56%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 70cl)
NON-PLUS-ULTRA AWARD 2006   Almost at the bottom of the 'A-Z' list we find the highest scoring entry... Yamazing!
With 10 nominations for gold our verdict was pretty unanimous. Davin wrote: 'The nose alone is worth 95 points; just amazing. I had to check my score for Black Bowmore to make sure this one didn't beat it'. Yeah, it seems this whisky has little or no weak spots. Ho-cheng wrote: 'Heavily sherried, raisin, sweet, light peat, reminds you of Japanese'. Well, maybe that's because it IS from Japan, Ho-cheng. It's too bad that few people will actually be able to buy a bottle though. As I understand it this was a limited bottling which was completely sold out a few hours after our awards were presented.

Yamazaki 25yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006, Japan, 75cl)
GLOBAL VILLAGE AWARD 2006   After tasting this Davin commented: 'It's gotta be old to be this good'.
Robert wrote: 'Super syrupy sweetness, raisin and dates. Also dry, derived from wood. Spicy. Taste is special, lots of wood influence, dry, bitter, slighty perfumy. Over the top for me but surely something for the sherry sadomasochist'. Well, I'd have to agree there was a load to take in. I wrote: 'Whoaah! Sherry & smoke. Tea? Some Maggi? My kind of profile... Smoky toffee. Dry, smoky & woody palate. A bit like the Auchentoshan Three Wood? Heavy tannins. I LOVE the chewy smoke & tannins on the palate. A hint of soap kept the score down, though - it's unique but a tad too extreme'.

Tyrconnell NAS (40%, OB, Single Malt, Ireland)
With a lowest score of 76 and a highest of 84 this Irish single malt landed right on the border, but managed to pull off a bronze medal on the votes of seven jurors. According to Davin, 'a typical grassy Irish nose was complemented with gooseberries and a pleasant oiliness. On the tongue it was simple but pleasing with a malty sweetness, a creamy mouth feel and hot peppery spices'. Robert wrote: 'Slight touches of stables, earthy, dry and leathery tones. Also malty and tones of pears. All tones restrained, though. Tastewise the malt dominates. Slightly "watery", very light, slightly citrusy, some hay? No sign of vanilla or other fruits'. Yeah, Ireland isn't quite Japan yet, but they're moving up in the world...

TWF Single Speyside Malt 35yo 1971/2006 (51,4%, The Whisky Fair, Sherry Butt)
(Name of distillery will not appear on label, 534 Bottles)  Yes, I know that 'alphabetically' this entry should be under the 'T' section, but we originally listed this under the name of the distillery. Apparently, we shouldn't use the distillery name. Even so, this is a magnificent dram... Davin (91 points) wrote: 'Big beautiful nose, Hot chocolately body' while Ho-cheng (90 points) wrote: 'Dark chocolate, old, raisin, charming. Lot's apple in palate, finished some lemon feel. Matured very well'. My score of 90 points fits nicely with the majority opinion; I wrote: 'A classic, woody, heavily sherried malt. A suggestion of organics. Sweet, fruity & syrupy on the palate with lots of 'gravitas'. Touch of smoke. Just the sort of profile I adore'.

And those were the results of the Malt Maniacs Awards in 2006...
By the time you read this, 'batch variation' could have changed the character of some of the official bottlings considerably, while most of the independent bottlings will probably be hard to find these days. Check out the Malt Maniacs Awards Overview or the MaltMenu to find out about more recent bottlings. Check out the Matrix and the Monitor if scores are your thing.
 
 

2006
Malt Maniacs Awards - 2006

December 1, 2006 - Phew... The first results of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2006 are in!
Well... As usual it took us a few days to get the tasting notes worked out, but now
the descriptions of the more than 150 medal winners are finished. As usual, we'll
kick things off with a few 'editorial comments' on the results. Figuring out which
entry earned the highest average score in 2006 was easy enough, but then we
had to reach consensus about the awards. That caused some virtual anguish...

MM Archives - Home

At this edition, we were provoked to hand out more awards than ever before.
We finally decided on a whopping 25 Awards winners; one overall winner (which
won the Non Plus Ultra Award for the highest scoring entry this year) and four
groups of six winners in various categories. So, now we're fighting over whether
or not we should give out some 'posthumous' awards for 2003, 2004 and 2005.

After all, we had to invent some brand new awards this year to do justice to the
strong contenders this year. If these new awards had existed in the past, a few
'stunners' that just missed out on an award might have won something after all.

Malt Madness - our first whisky web siteWhiskyFun - by Serge ValentinMalt Maniacs - The ArchivesQuestions?Malt Maniacs - The Archives
2007 E-pistlesThe New Malt Maniacs website2003 E-pistles2005 E-pistles2008 E-pistles2009 E-pistles2010 E-pistles2011 E-pistles

The Malt Maniacs Awards 2006 - Complete Results

MM Awards Overview --- Rules --- A2003 --- A2004 --- A2005 --- A2006 --- A2007 --- A2008 --- A2009 --- A2010 --- A2011

Malt Maniacs & Friends on FacebookJohannes van den Heuvel
Our Hosting sponsor: Canvas Host