Whisky Advocate’s 19th Annual Award: World Whisky of the Year
Millstone Sherry Cask 12 year old, 46%, €60
2012 was a year of consolidation and growth for whisky from outside the established whisky territories. While there were plenty of very good whiskies released, for most of the year nothing stood apart from the pack. Then this came along.
Until then, a number of whiskies were in the frame to win, the front runner being The New Zealand Whisky Company 1993 cask strength release, if not for any other reason than it had the chutzpah to go head-to-head in blind tastings with an award-winning cask strength, port cask whisky from Welsh distillery Penderyn, the heavily peated English whisky St. George’s Chapter 11, and the highly acclaimed Ardbeg Uigedail. Amazingly, the New Zealander beat all three in their own territories.
But Millstone Sherry Cask 12 year old, released quietly and with somewhat typical Dutch modesty, stole the show when it finally reached us late in the year. If you’re a new world whisky maker you have to choose between making a whisky in the way that the Scots do, or seeking out a new direction for your whisky and striving for a different flavor profile, as is the case with bourbon. This whisky unashamedly sets its sights on being comparable to a rich, sherried Speyside single malt, and it pulls off the rare and remarkable feat of matching many of the malts from that region.
We shouldn’t really be surprised. Dutch distiller Zuidam makes scores of high-class, premium spirits and does not cut corners, enriching their liqueurs with quality fresh fruit and importing the finest ingredients to create some of their complex genevers and special distillates. And this is 12 years old, proving this company is no novice when it comes to making whisky. It is a total delight from nose to finish, an excellent single malt by whatever standards you want to judge it. —Dominic Roskrow
Whisky Advocate’s Blended/Blended Malt Whisky of the Year will be announced tomorrow.