The Irish Whiskey Awards 2021 were held – in person – at the wonderful Powerscourt Distillery.
Limited capacity excluded my attendance – but I did contribute my blind judging results for the awards.
Blind judging is a great leveller.
Presented before you are identical vials – codes are used to identify the whiskey inside.
No logos, no back stories, no information as to distillery of origin or casks used, no fancy bottle or labelling, not even whether you’re tasting single malt, grain or blended whiskey.
Just the vials, a glass & your palate.
It’s the most transparent & honest way to explore the flavours of the whiskey before you.
For 2021 I received 3 packs of whiskey for scoring – I, L & B – & didn’t attempt to guess the category or whiskey sampled so as to concentrate on the flavours & differences between each offering.
The reveal – always after the awards evening – gives an insight into my palate preferences.
Category I – Single Malts 12 to 15 Years
Consisting of 12 entrants my average score was 72.5 with a difference of 6.
I found these to be variations of a common theme – not surprising as only 3 or 4 distilleries were producing back in 2009 or earlier – with very tight scoring.
There was a winner,
Jack Ryan Founder’s Touch
With 4 sharing 2nd spot only 1 point behind – Tullamore DEW 12, Gelson’s 12, Pearse 12 Founder’s Reserve & Lough Ree Bridge Series Elfleet Bay.
The actual Award winner was Gelston’s 15 – which came below average in my scores.
Category L – Cask Strength
8 entrants, average score 73.8, difference 6.
Again a lack of diversity with tight scoring.
My winner was,
Dark Silkie Cask Strength
I didn’t detect the peat influence yet it obviously mattered as Dark Silkie was 2 points ahead of the trio that came 2nd – Natterjack CS, Teeling Fill Your Own SPS & a surprise entrant, The Brollach.
Award winner Dunville’s PX 12 CS again was below average.
Category B – Blended, Limited Release
12 entrants, average score 75.9, difference 12.
This category pleased me no end! A more diverse & entertaining array of whiskey resulted in higher overall scores.
A clear winning podium produced,
The Whistler, Calvados Cask
As winner with stablemate Whistler Imperial Stout 2nd & Pearse Marriage Of Malts 3rd.
Award winner was Writer’s Tears Ice Wine Cask.
Congratulations to all the IWA 2021 winners.
They have captured the popular tasting profiles of the judges participating & are clearly crowd pleasers.
They are however not my palate choices. None of the winners broke beyond my averages scores.
By presenting my winners I’m being honest & transparent as to what tickles my tastebuds.
The blended limited release category offered me a far greater diversity & heightened enjoyment all round.
Given too that almost all my winners used sourced product it suggests to me more attention is given to the blending & maturation process over distillation techniques by the brands involved.
These scoring results are also reflected in the content of my blog.
Everyone’s palate is unique & one person’s winners might be another’s losers.
Enjoy what pleases your palate & don’t be afraid to say so.
I enjoy blended whiskey best!