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

  1. The Glenrothes was founded in 1879
  2. Little more than 2% of the distillery capacity is bottled as Single Malt to ensure exceptional quality
  3. Of the 16 Vintages released to date, 12 have entirely sold out
  4. The whisky is matured in a combination of Spanish and American oak casks – the best of both worlds
  5. The Glenrothes Select Reserve was voted Best in Class at the World Whiskies Awards 2008 and won two Double Golds at The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2007
  6. The Glenrothes 1972 was awarded a Trophy at the 2005 International Spirits Challenge
  7. The Glenrothes 1978 was voted Best Speyside Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards 2008
  8. The Glenrothes 1975 won a Double Gold award at The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2008
  9. The Glenrothes 1991 won a Gold Medal at The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2010
  10. The Glenrothes 1994 won a Gold Medal at The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2010
  11. The Glenrothes Alba Reserve won a Double Gold at The San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2010
  12. "I have always felt that Glenrothes deserved to be more widely appreciated. Beautifully rounded... sophisticated after-dinner malt." Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion
  13. Jim Murray, in his Whisky Bible, refers to The Glenrothes Select Reserve; "One of the softest deliveries on Speyside, the silky barley and citrus caress the tastebuds with rare tenderness" and scores it 24 out of 25