Distiller of the Year 2019: Lambay Irish Whiskey
The rise and rise of Irish whiskey in the last few years is one of the whisk(e)y world’s most remarkable stories, even by the remarkably high standards of the times we live in. Craft production has taken off worldwide, and there are other great success stories to talk about – Australia, Sweden, The Alpine region – but Ireland stands out from all of them for two very important reasons. One, because Ireland was once a great powerhouse for whiskey but it become a sad pale imitation of itself. Indeed, whiskey nearly disappeared altogether. And two, because the quality of the new whiskey is of such a high standard. Diversity has returned to the nation’s whiskery offering, and each new release is anticipated with great excitement, and expectations are rarely disappointed.
There are a number of the newer distillers in the mix, too, and the team at The Cask Magazine and Cask TV are excited because it will provide the perfect opportunity to explore Irish whiskey further, and to visit the new wave of distillers.
Lambay is a small island off the coast of Ireland, just three miles from Dublin. It is home to a herd of grazing cattle and hosts both puffins and a troupe of red-necked wallabies. Really.
It is also the ancestral home of Alexander Baring and the island’s whiskey brings together his old family with another, that of Cyril Camus, who represents the fifth generation of Maison Camus, the illustrious French family famous around the world over for its Cognac.
“Lambay’s two whiskeys – a Small Batch Blend and a Single Malt – are both made with water from the island’s Trinity Well, and then finished in ex Camus Cognac casks. And it’s this twist which sets these whiskeys apart. They’re sweet but not cloyingly so, but they have a depth provided by citrus and red fruit notes. They are quintessentially Irish but with an exotic and elegant quality. I’m looking forward to visiting soon. Outstanding.” Said Dom Roskrow from Cask Magazine.
IRISH WHISKEY GOLD MEDAL WINNERS
Other Irish whiskey brands that received gold were :
Slane Irish Whiskey
Powerscourt Fercullen Premium Blend
Fercullen Single Grain 10 Year Old
Fercullen Single Grain 14 Year Old
Writers’ Tears Copper Pot
Writers’ Tears Red Head
Jameson Bow Street 18 Year Old Cask Strength Batch 1
Jameson Bow Street 18 Year Old Cask Strength Batch 2
Jameson 18 Year Old
Teeling Small Batch
Teeling Single Grain
Teeling Single Pot Still
How The Wizards are judged
The Wizards are now in their seventh year and are the result of a World Whisky Tasting Club set up in Norwich 12 years ago. Dom Roskrow has long championed whisky from non-traditional areas and his VIP group has been on a journey with him that brought the first whiskies from Australia, Belgium, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, India, Israel, New Zealand and Argentina.
“I believe that over the years were have developed in to the most knowledgeable group of judges for non-traditional world whisky, and of course in recent years a new wave of American and Irish whiskeys has come to the party too” said Dom.
There are three tasting groups – that choose the winners – a group in London of writers, bloggers and enthusiasts; a hand selected VIP Norwich group, made up of club members and post grad students at the University of East Anglia; and a group of writers, bloggers and experts in the Alpine region, who judge the Alpine section.
Whiskies are tasted blind, and whiskies which are not medal contenders dispensed with. Clear Gold and Silver medal winners are also set aside, and then marginal whiskies undergo a separate round of blind tasting.
From each class, one distiller is chosen as Distiller of the Year, and the winner is chosen is in the following way:
1. Distillers of the year must enter at least two whiskies in to the event
2. The winner is the one with the highest average score over its whiskies, not the one with the most gold medals. This is to prevent a big company entering eight whiskies and having an unfair advantage over smaller distilleries with just three entries.
A whisky of the year for each section is also chosen, and where relevant, a winner is chosen for both single malt and other grain whisky.