This year, our blind-tasting competition for Scotch whisky truly scaled the heights, showing that the industry boasts talented producers in all regions.
Scotch whisky is a spirit held in high regards worldwide – but the year of the pandemic, coupled with crippling tariffs for single malts in the US, presented insurmountable challenges for the category.
The value of Scotch whisky exports fell by £1.1 billion (US$1.5bn) in 2020 to its lowest level in a decade, according to trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). However, in March this year, relief swept across the industry as the US agreed to temporarily remove tariffs on UK goods, including single malt Scotch whisky, for four months.
What is plainly obvious to see from The Scotch Whisky Masters 2021 is that producers remained dedicated to quality – pandemic or no pandemic, tariffs or no tariffs.
This year’s tasting was once again held remotely in keeping with Covid‐19 measures in England. Forming this year’s judging panels were Billy Abbott, ambassador for The Whisky Exchange; and Matt Chambers and Karen Taylor, co‐founders of the Whisky for Everyone blog. The tasting was chaired by me, Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business magazine. To ensure that each entry was judged solely on the liquid inside the bottle, the products were decanted and shipped anonymously by Wine Sorted.
To make sure each entrant received ample time for assessment, at various points…