The World Cup of the whisky world - also known as The Glenrothes Whisky Maker contest - reached its thrilling conclusion in June, with amateur whisky aficionados from Taiwan, England and the USA coming together in Speyside, Scotland, to tough it out in a series of challenges and tastings that would have tested the nerves of famed Scottish outlaw Rob Roy, let alone a malt expert.
The Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky, one of the world's top single malts and the pre-eminent vintage-distilled single malt, launched its quest to bring together top whisky enthusiasts from around the world 12 months ago. Following entries in the thousands, from as far afield as Albania to Zimbabwe, four finalists from Taiwan, England (where two hailed from) and Ohio, USA, were selected to go head to head, and nose to nose, in the glens of Speyside, the home of The Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Finalists faced off in everything from gauging the purity of the water source at the distillery's two springs to milling the malt to achieve the golden proportions of husk, grits and flour to making casks at the cooperage and rolling them into the warehouse. The contest culminated in a blind tasting, and individual blending and bottling, in the distillery's fabled Inner Sanctum, where Eliott Edelstein, the American representative, remembers "sniffing and blending [our] way through three casks that had never been used for bottling before. We then took on the holy grail of taste-tests: every vintage whisky ever put out from The Glenrothes, from Vintage 1975 through to the new 1995; it was truly a religious moment."
At the close of Whisky Maker, Ronnie Cox, The Glenrothes' Global Brand Heritage Director and comedic star of the accompanying You Tube video reel on the contest, declared all the entrants winners, meaning this dual ended in more of a draw than an all out thrashing. "The Glenrothes is a whisky unrivalled in terms of heritage and uniqueness, from its distinctive vintage offering through to its commitment to unearthing the next generation of would-be master blenders, via programs such as Whisky Maker. Not only does something like Whisky Maker unite the passion felt globally by people for The Glenrothes, it ultimately invests in the quality of the dram in the bottle, to be enjoyed by enthusiasts of The Glenrothes for years to come."
Below is a video recap of The Glenrothes Whisky Maker, featuring Ronnie Cox, as well as the four finalists on their Speyside odyssey. For more video logs from Whisky Maker, search "The Glenrothes Whisky Maker" on You Tube or go to theglenrothes.com