Whisky Advocate’s 19th Annual Award: Blended/Blended Malt Whisky of the Year
Blue Hanger 6th Release, 45.6%, £68
Last year the contenders for this category happened to be connected by a taste theme of citrus and pepper, and by coincidence there is a taste theme running through the contenders this year, too. This time, though, it’s an altogether bigger, earthier, and more challenging taste, with peat and oil to the fore. Arguably the best two blended whiskies of the year were Johnnie Walker Blue Label Casks Edition, bottled at cask strength, and Compass Box Great King Street New York Blend, both with peat smoke to the fore. A cask strength version of blended malt The Big Peat made the peat even bigger…and that’s going some.
Peat is present in our winner, too, but here it’s wonderfully entwined with some rich, fruity Speyside malts. Blue Hanger contains just malt whisky and is made by Doug McIvor for Berry Bros. & Rudd in London using the finest Scotch malts at his disposal. Over the years Blue Hanger has built a reputation for fine quality, and each creation can be viewed as something of a master class in whisky making. But this release takes an unexpected turn for the better, surpassing even our highest expectations by offering an extra peaty, rustic dimension to a perfect mix of orange and berry fruits, cocoa, vanilla, and spice. With John Glaser still setting the pace for blended malts with the most recent versions of Flaming Heart and Spice Tree, and this release raising the bar still further, this category is on fire. Stunning. — Dominic Roskrow
The Speyside Single Malt of the Year will be announced tomorrow.