Glenfiddich 40-year-old

The world’s best spirits for 2020

September 22, 2020
By Alana House

The best spirits of the year have been announced this week at the 2020 International Wine And Spirits Competition.

The best of the best have been unveiled in categories including London Dry and contemporary gin, rum, vodka, scotch, bourbon and worldwide whiskies, Cognac, shochu and baijiu, with winners hailing from countries as diverse as Germany, China, Japan, Barbados and Mexico.

Worldwide Whiskey Trophy: The Westfalian Peated 6 YO Single Malt (Unique Liquids, Germany)

The judges said: “Incredible aromas of toasty malted milk and vanilla flowers; there is outstanding depth to the palate: warm flapjacks and sweet honeycomb balanced by aged leather and dried tea leaves, and a building crescendo of intense, savoury peat smoke.”

Blended Scotch Whisky Trophy: Glory Leading 1972 45 YO Blended Scotch Whisky (The Glory Leading Whisky Company, Scotland)

The judges said: “Demerara sugar on the nose with hints of melted wax and honey. Some lovely freshness on the palate considering it is a mature whisky. Pure class.”

The Single Malt Scotch Whisky 25 Years and Under Trophy: Bunnahabhain 25 YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Distell Limited, Islay, Scotland)

The judges said: “Well-balanced with finesse and elegance. Soft vanilla sponge, orange liquer and grapefruit zest on the nose. Spice and oak are integrated well, with fresh fruit and dried apricot on the palate.”

The Single Malt Scotch Whisky 26 Years and Over Trophy: Glenfiddich 40 YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky (William Grant & Sons, Speyside, Scotland)

The judges said: “Distinguished and decadent. Deep, dark wood aromas with hints of leather and old books. Complex, but well-balanced palate of apples and dried pears with a great sweet/spice balance.”

Bourbon Trophy: 1820 Single Barrel Whiskey (Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, Tennessee, US)

The judges said: “Bold with abundant dark, dried fruits on the nose, underpinned by appealing vanilla and sweet nut clusters. Complex and rounded with luxurious dark chocolate and rich praline. Highlights of red fruit and lifted oak culminate in an alluringly long finish.”

Best spirits

Agave Trophy: Mezcal Colores Tobala (Mezcolatra, Mexico)

The judges said: “Rich and intense with balanced aromas of smoke, wood and clay. Focused flavours of rustic fruit and wild mint offer a superlatively bright prolonged finish. Elegantly textured and, in short, absolutely awesome.”

Baijiu Trophy: Quantu Jingxuan Soft Style Baijiu (Quantujiang Jiu Studio, China)

The judges said: “Slight colour; explosive, opulent nose with higher ester aromas such as dried pineapple, mango, walnut and liquorice; strong soy aroma. Rich and savoury palate, saline and intense with soy sauce, bok choy and ending with a lovely cereal finish – long and focussed.”

Cognac Trophy: 1960 Grande Champagne Cognac (Hermitage Cognacs, France)

The judges said: “Exceedingly complex and broad in its depth of aromas and flavours. Prominent notes of refreshing and zingy sherbet are united with red berries and smooth hints of fine leather for a seamlessly crafted and decadently enjoyable palate.”

Contemporary Gin Trophy: Boulder Spirits Ginskey Gin (Vapor Distillery, Colorado, US)

The judges said: “A seductive nose displaying big bourbon characteristics with an abundance of rich woody sweetness, vanilla oak and dark cherry notes. Exceptionally balanced spirit with bold, spicy fruit, culminating in a heady perfume of floral notes and a juniper-rich finish.”

Fruit Spirits Trophy: Framboise Sauvage VRP Eau-de-Vie (Distillerie Massenez, France)

The judges said: “Fresh natural raspberries with a slightly crisper, greener note on a hint of sweet, ripe, fruitiness. An array of raspberry in a clean and well-made form, covering all the natural aromas and flavours the fruit can deliver.”

Grape Brandy Trophy: Pure Folle Blanche 15 YO (Chateau du Tariquet, France)

The judges said: “Very elegant with intriguing rancio nose, but has retained its freshness. Very luxurious, with the alcohol working the aromatics perfectly – clotted cream, raspberry jam and chocolate truffles on the finish.”

Liqueur Trophy: Nigori Umeshu (Yamamoto Shuzo, Japan)

The judges said: “Very expressive and bold with a big sweetness, balanced by zesty green plums. There is a nice smooth rice note with plenty of ripe and green plums.”

London Dry Gin Trophy: Monterey Gin (Helford River Distillery, England)

The judges said: “Full, dry, resinous and aromatic, this magnificent elixir entices you to linger over fragrant coriander, zippy lemon and sweetly scented herbs. Boldly enriched by a rounded, warm, dry palate, culminating in a deep, cooling finish.”

Rum Trophy: Foursquare 2008 (RL Seale, Barbados)

The judges said: “Focused and elegant with notes of mandarin peel, nutmeg and allspice. Oaky and rich, there is a gentle heat which accentuates the core sweet-spiced character. Mouth-wateringly moreish.”

Shochu Trophy: Inugami Shochu (BrewDog Distilling, Scotland)

The judges said: “Gingerbread baked with spices and coated in rum caramel sauce creates an enticing aroma which leads to a palate of rose petal confectionary. Aroma and flavour are well combined and comforting in their smoothness. Ginger and spice continues through to the finish. Layered, complex, enjoyably intriguing complexity.”

Vodka Trophy: Naud French Vodka (Famille Naud, France)

The judges said: “Superbly luxurious, expressive vodka – smoky citrus notes meet vanilla and coconut, ripe stone and tropical fruit. There is a deliciously sweet, warming quality, almost rum-like, and a candied chocolate creaminess to boot.”

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