The Malt Maniacs, an "international collective of malt whisky lovers", have announced their 2008 awards. What's nice about these particular awards is that the Maniacs are very transparent about the judging process and they don't accept money from any interested parties.
They do, however, depend on distillers, bottlers, etc. submitting a bottle for consideration so you should understand that this is not a head-to-head among all of the world's whiskeys. That said, they still managed to sip their way through almost 200 candidates so this is no small endeavour.
Apart from the whiskey awards, they also singled out Cooley distillery this year for a special prize, World Whiskey Distillery 2008 to recognise Cooley's impressive improvement. When the full tasting notes are published we should discover more about the motivation for this award.
In the meantime, I have extracted just the Irish whiskeys from the final line up. If you are used to Jim Murray's scoring, you might find that the Maniacs score a little on the low side. As a reference, their highest rating in 2008 was 91.
Connemara 1992/2007 (50.5%, OB for Whisky Fair Germany, peated malt, C# K92/34 4184)
Cooley 15yo 1993/2008 'The Mad(eira) Angel' (46%, The Nectar, Madeira Finish, 370 Bts.)
Connemara 1992/2007 (46%, OB, Peated, C#K92/334086)
Cooley 15yo 1993/2008 'The Angel's Port(al)' (46%, The Nectar Daily Dram, Port Finish, 360 Bts.)
Connemara NAS 'Cask Strength' (57.9%, OB, Peated, +/-2008)
Cooley 16yo 1991/2008 (46%, Milroy's of Soho, first fill Bourbon, C#12441, 264 Bts.)
Tyrconnell 10yo Madeira Cask Finish (46%, OB, +/-2008)
Tyrconnell 10yo Sherry Cask Finish (46%, OB, +/-2008)
Tyrconnell 15yo (46%, OB, C#1852/92, +/-2008)
Greenore 15yo (43%, OB, Limited Edition, 5000 Bts.)
Connemara NAS (40%, OB, Peated, +/-2008)
Bushmills NAS '400th Anniversary 1608' (46%, OB, 2008)