Not so the Irish Whiskey Awards, presented last night at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin. These are organised with scrupulous fairness by Ally Alpine of the Celtic Whiskey Shop. No fee is charged to enter a product (though bottles for judging must be supplied, of course) and profits from ticket sales for the awards evening go to the charity, Mary's Meals.
The Awards are enthusiastically supported by the industry in Ireland, which put its best spirits forward for consideration and turned up in force last night to collect the gongs and enjoy the after party.
They are judged entirely blind by members of the Irish Whiskey Society and the Celtic Whiskey Club. In other words, those weighing in are routine drinkers of the stuff, au fait with the various styles, keep up with new releases, and can sort the wheat from the chaff.
I was out of the country on the judging weekend and so missed chipping in my own vote. I did have a chance at the ceremony last night, however, to taste the winning spirits.
I find myself (mildly) disagreeing with the results this year more than I have done in previous years. Perhaps this is just due to the growing number of whiskeys available, with something to suit every palate. Ally commented that for quite a few of the categories opinion was pretty evenly divided.
I haven't seen the full list of entrants yet but if I was free to choose my own whiskeys of the year I'd nominate the Tullamore Dew 15yo Trilogy and Midleton Dair Ghaelach (tree 4). In other spirits, Bán Poitín and Kalak Vodka have been the exciting new arrivals in their categories.
There were 13 gins up for consideration, a remarkable number given that the oldest of them (Dingle) has only been around for a few years. The winner, Thin Gin, is a new brand, possibly not even on sale yet. It'll be at Whiskey Live Dublin next week so I'll find out more then.
I was also hearing of Mrs Doyle's Irish Cream Liqueur for the first time last night. But we have companies that make many such brands for export so it's not so surprising. It was very tasty, but Coole Swan will always stand out in this category for me.
Redbreast 21yo walked away with the overall prize for the second year running. Few would quibble with that. If anything challenges it, it's most likely another whiskey from the same distillery, Midleton.
|Brian Nation, Master Distiller at Midleton|
Without further ado, here is the full list of winners and runners up.
Irish Whiskey of the Year (Overall winner)
Glencairn Trophy Winner - Redbreast 21 Year-Old
Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey
Trophy Winner - Redbreast 21 Year Old
Gold Medal - Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy
Gold Medal - Powers Signature Release
Irish Single Malt Whiskey (12 Years & Younger)
Trophy Winner - Connemara Single Malt
Gold Medal - Teeling Single Malt
Gold Medal - Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Single Malt
Irish Single Malt Whiskey (13 Years & Older)
Trophy Winner - Knappogue Castle Vintage 2000 Batch 2 Mongeard Mugneret Burgundy Cask
Gold Medal - The Palace Bar Three Generations Batch 14 Year-Old
Gold Medal - Glendalough 13 Year Old Single Malt
Irish Blended Whiskey (RRP of less than €60)
Trophy Winner - Tullamore Dew 12 Year Old
Gold Medal - Writers Tears Copper Pot
Gold Medal - Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel
Irish Blended Whiskey (RRP of €60 or more)
Trophy Winner - Midleton Very Rare 2015
Gold Medal -Jameson Gold Reserve
Gold Medal - Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve
Irish Single Cask Whiskey
Trophy Winner - An Púcán Teeling Whiskey Single Malt
Gold Medal - Celtic Cask Trí Déag
Gold Medal - Celtic Cask Dó Dhéag
Irish Cask Strength Whiskey
Trophy Winner - Tullamore Dew Phoenix
Gold Medal - Midleton Dair Ghaelach
Gold Medal - Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength
Irish Single Grain Whiskey
Trophy Winner - Kilbeggan Single Grain￼
Gold Medal - Glendalough Single Grain
Gold Medal - Teeling Single Grain
Trophy Winner - Teeling Poitín
Gold Medal - Bán Poitín
Trophy Winner - Mrs Doyle's Irish Cream
Gold Medal - Coole Swan
Gold Medal - The Wild Geese Irish Honey Liqueur
Trophy Winner - Thin Gin
Gold Medal - Blackwater No 5
Gold Medal - Dingle Gin
Trophy Winner - Dingle Vodka
Gold Medal - Untamed Irish Vodka
Gold Medal - St Patrick's Distillery Vodka
Irish Whiskey Barrel Aged Irish Craft Beer
Trophy Winner - O'Hara's Barrel Aged Series
Gold Medal - Independent Whiskey Stout
Gold Medal - Franciscan Well Jameson Stout
Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Overall Winner)
Glencairn Trophy - Dick Mack's, Dingle
Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Leinster)
Trophy Winner - The Dingle Whiskey Bar, Dublin
Gold Medal - The Whiskey Palace, Dublin
Gold Medal - L Mulligan Grocer, Dublin
Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Munster)
Trophy Winner - Dick Mack's, Dingle
Gold Medal -The Shelbourne Bar, Cork
Gold Medal -The Folkhouse, Kinsale
Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Connaught)
Trophy Winner - Garavan's Bar, Galway
Gold Medal -An Púcán, Galway
Gold Medal - Tigh Neachtain's, Galway
Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (Ulster)
Trophy Winner - The Duke of York, Belfast
Gold Medal - Bittles Bar, Belfast
Gold Medal - McCuaig's bar, Rathlin Island
Irish Whiskey Bar of the Year (International)
Trophy Winner - Whisky and Alement, Melbourne, Australia
Gold Medal - The Shebeen/Irish Heather - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Gold Medal - Scholars Lounge, Rome