The World’s Best Whisky!
Chances are, you’ve just scrolled down in a hurry to jump past all these pesky words getting in the way to see the answer to this rather click-bait headline. If that’s you, and you’ve scrolled back up to now read this, I do apologise.
There are a number of questions that get flung my way at almost every whisky tasting I host, one of which is “What’s the best whisky in the world?”. The answer is almost invariably the same every time: there’s no such thing. To newer whisky appreciators, this befuddles and sometimes even angers, as there MUST surely be one whisky above all the others, right? One particular dram that you can buy from a commercially run whisky retailer? Even better, can this mythical beast be under a thousand dollars please? Sorry, still no such thing. Every year, especially as we head into the silly season of festive joy and fine summer dramming, a whole slew of articles, books, magazines, blogs, and sometimes even little bits on the news like to list either their ‘Top 10 Whiskies you MUST own’ or ‘The best whiskies of 2017’ or ‘The best whisky in the world as voted by experts’. I hate to again burst the bubble, but most of these are total bunk designed to sell bottles or page-clicks. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but just be wary that again, there’s no such thing as the ‘best’ whisky. At time of writing, there’s a rather popular whisky book that awards ONE whisky the world’s best, which is days away from being released for its 2018 edition. The whisky to win the best will have a score of 97.5/100 or similar, and people will go nuts trying to track down bottles of it before the price skyrockets off the back of the award. Mission accomplished! There’s no doubt this particular author introduces many new whisky appreciators into the category and for that I’m eternally thankful, but at the same time, it’s one man’s subjective opinion. Please keep that in mind, and remember his nose, his palate, his tastes, are wildly different from yours.
Here’s a litmus test to this theory: go ahead and ask a professional photographer what the world’s best camera is. Ask a pro golfer what the best golf club is. Ask a car enthusiast what the world’s best car is. There’s again no such thing, just as it doesn’t exist in cars or cameras or golf clubs, it doesn’t exist in whisky. The best whisky is a subjective decision on your enjoyment from a flavour, from a cask, and from a style and mood.
So how do you then pick the best flavours, and maximise your enjoyment out of a dram? For one, pick a flavour profile you quite like or are in the mood for. Mood is of course one of the five elements of whisky enjoyment, but more on that another time. On a warm Spring afternoon it might be Sweet, fruity & mellow, but on a rainy Winter night it could be Old & dignified or Peated. The beauty of Society single casks are that they are all absolutely unique in flavour, every single one. We never claim the word ‘best’ on any of them, as they are all incredibly diverse, always full-flavoured, and always needing to pass the most exacting whisky panel.
So let’s turn the question around. What whisky is the most rigorously scrutinised to be incredible experiences for members? Which whisky is utterly unique from a single cask? Which whisky is cask strength and full-flavoured? These questions are easy enough to answer as part of the nearly 35 year old whisky club at the SMWS, but one I can’t answer is which is the ‘best’. Trust your palate, enjoy the journey, and insist on single cask.
So if you scrolled down to read what the world’s best whisky is here: scroll back up and read the first paragraph, and please accept my humble apologies.