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Online Scotch Whisky Awards

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By W @Wierdo on 30th Aug 2021, show post

Replies: page 2/2

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@Astroke The Arran 10 is usually available in Alberta. The Springbank not so much. I've been nursing my last one for about 6 months.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

@BlueNote I feel like I'm defending the OSWAs when it's not even my thing!

The manipulation lies in the fact that the awards were set up and funded by Ralfy and Roy both of whom bang the drum long and hard that whisky should be 46% abv or above, natural colour and NCF. The process for deciding who the nominees were was that around 30 channels were asked to specify there picks in each category. The top 6 nominees were then chosen. In the event of a tie. Channels were asked to vote again but they could only vote for a whisky they didn't nominate. I would say further manipulation lies in that Roy and Ralfy would have picked other contributors from channels with a similar ethos to them e.g. Scotch test dummies etc.

I would say probably a lot less manipulation and a lot more honesty than most whisky awards where sometimes distillerries can seemingly just pay to win and you don't get 30 people choosing who the nominees are and you don't get 6,000 people voting to decide who wins from the nominees. The bottom line is I've been into whisky for 15 years. This is the first time I've ever had the opportunity to vote on what I think is 'the best'.

In terms of whiskies better than Arran 10. Talisker 18 was nominated alongside Arran and the Arran beat it. So not everyone agrees with you on that. But that is just personal preference. Laphroaig was nominated not the cask strength but the Sherry cask and again the Arran beat it. Springbank 12CS is amazing stuff but it is very hard to get hold of. There was a Springbank in the nominations in the Longrow 18. But again probably suffered from availability issues. How many of the 6,000 people who voted have actually had a bottle of Longrow 18? The quality at Glenfarclas has dropped in recent years. Batch variation which was always a bit of a gamble with 'farclas has become a real issue. They're not really a whisky people are talking much about at the moment.

I would say that the awards don't favour whiskies that are at one end or or other of the whisky spectrum. For all their rabid fans there are plenty of people who can't stand Ardbeg because they don't like peated whiskies. Same with Sherried whiskies. Plenty of people can't stand them. Arran is a bit of an all rounder whisky and the awards probably do favour a whisky everyone can like. Psychologically as well I would say when you vote for best whisky you probably lean towards something you could have any day and enjoy over something like Corryvrecken where personally I would have to be in the mood for it.

My advice for next years OSWAs would be that they should probably have a 'best peated' category.

about one year ago 5Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

@RianC I agree in terms of it being sycophantic. I find that with Aqvavitae in general. A lot of reading out of messages along the lines of 'you are the best. Thank you for what you do' etc. I usually just scrub through Roy's videos to the useful information. Which generally means I at least halve what I listen to from his videos!

about one year ago 5Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

@Astroke Try the French connection in QC. The SAQ has a few Arran 10 older bottling. Personally, I miss the Arran 14. Hopefully, most whisky enthusiast find that, they can trust their own instincts when it comes to whisky/spirit selection, after they tried a few entry level malts.

about one year ago 6Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@fiddich1980 you and tout le monde who have tasted it miss the Isle of Arran 14 yo. That's one of the very few bottles that I wish I had not let get away from me without a purchase.

about one year ago 5Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@Wierdo - nice summation! Agree that Arran as best whisky was an odd choice but, hey, it's what the people voted on. Not myself mind, Talisker 18 all the way, baby grin

@BlueNote, @Nozinan and others who feel this to be somewhat compromised - I have to disagree with that, in a general sense, and agree with @Wierdo in that, when you look at how they were chosen and voted on, it's quite possibly THE most fair and representative vote on whisky there has ever been. That's why I find it very interesting.

That said, there is so much 'parroting' of what ralfy says online (and one can easily see this in the other popular blogger sites, who, we should remember, helped create the selections to vote on) that homogenization of choices, likes etc will happen. In that sense, I agree, it is somewhat narrowed in scope. But let's face it, like him or loathe him, he bangs a tune that most whisky fans would happily clap along to and there were no poor choices, far as I could see.

But yeah, Arran10 as best whisky is odd - it's not even the best Arran! But was Alberta Premium Cask Strength when 'Big Jim' chose it? Ackh, it's all about opinions ...

about one year ago 6Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@Wierdo Thanks for an informative and well thought out response. I must admit, I skimmed that ponderous 3 hour video in about 15 minutes and have only the vaguest idea of what these awards were all about. I appreciate your thorough clarification. BTW, I am a huge fan of the Arran distillery with the Ten, the Port Finish, the Bothy, the 18 and 21 all taking up space in my cabinet.

Cheers.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@RianC

To be clear, my comment was that I don’t think the awards add anything to help people choose a whisky, or reflect the reality of the quality that is out there. I have not tasted most of the whiskies mentioned but I do know that I tasted some really fine whiskies from all over the world this year and they were not on the radar.

As for APCS, it was an excellent rye DESPITE being chosen by big Jim.

So there is nothing wrong with the awards, I just don’t think they mean anything.

about one year ago 6Who liked this?

MRick replied

@Astroke I own an Arran 10 but, also, haven’t seen it for sale for years.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@Nozinan - I would agree with that sentiment.

I usually take very little interest in awards, for a variety of reasons, but think the scope and origins of these awards make them unusually interesting. I'd love to be a fly on the wall of some distillery boardrooms when they discuss them ...

Perhaps 'best' really equates to 'most popular'; but that in and of itself tells us something worthwhile. Not unlike the Connosr top 100 ...

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@fiddich1980 - The Arran 14 is one of two whiskies I really regret not buying more of when I could. The other was the Ledaig Amontillado cask, and I didn't even own one bottle of that smile

I wouldn't now regret buying a case of each! We live and learn ...

about one year ago 7Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@RianC They don't have an obvious replacement for that much missed 14. It's not the 18, or any of their NAS offerings, all of which are very good, but the 14 or a good 15 would nicely complete their lineup.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@Nozinan I feel that Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye got a lot of unwarranted hate because it was chosen by Mr. Panama Hat. Now, I wouldn't have chosen it as best in the world, but my first bottle (which I purchased and enjoyed before any of the Mad Hatter-inspired hype hit) was incredibly good. Subsequent batches varied, but that first bottle was special. It was probably the most complex and interesting rye I had tasted at that point in time.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie replied

I read some of the comments in this thread this morning and now after work I've read the rest. I must say the image that came to my mind was of the 2 grumpy old guys from The Muppet show who sit in the box and poke fun at everyone. You have found community here on Connosr and that's a beautiful thing. I'm not a fanboy but I do appreciate what Roy does for the whisky community. Roy has provided what he calls vPubs or virtual pubs. Due to lockdowns many of his 'barflies' haven't been able to meet for a very long time. In lieu of that he has provided a means of connection and engagement for many of them. Yes, his vPub videos are long. However, he does go through afterwards and put the time stamps below the video so that you don't have to watch the whole thing - you can just click and go to any bit that interests you. I think that for many Scotch whisky enthusiasts he provides interesting content through the engagement of all manner of guests - industry people, whisky 'experts', and joe bloggs at home. I think the OSWA's are probably one of the best current guides to whisky within the criteria of the selection process. Do I agre with all the nominations and results? No. However, it is far more reasonable than any other competition, list, or forum that I have seen. The criteria for Best Scotch Single Malt was "While there is no further definitions on price or style, as long as it’s Scotch, this whisky should be something that offers exceptional value and widely available. Here we celebrate the best the sector has to offer - to everyone." That is why it wasn't some of your other beloved bottles. Rant over smile I'm off to a local tasting tonight where the Arran Quarter Cask and Arran Lochranza Castle 21 are on the table. I should have bought a bottle of the Arran 10 that my friends here in NZ have been raving about for months (and is a mere $70 NZD or $50 USD).

about one year ago 6Who liked this?

@casualtorture

@RianC I have a couple Arran 14s in the bunker. Still pissed at them for axing it.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

@casualtorture I think they'll bring it back, or something similar at some point. As I understand it, it was to do with stocks. As Arran has got more popular it has been difficult for them to meet demand for a 10, 14 and 18 year old. The 18 already has fluctuations in availability. So they decided to ditch the 14 (and 12 Cask Strength) and just concentrate on having the 10 and the 18.

But they added another washback in 2014 and went from 2 to 4 stills in 2017 so they are looking to increase production. But obviously that extra whisky won't be reflected in a bigger range of whiskies available for years yet.

about one year ago 6Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

I did not participate or vote in the OSWA 2022 but, feeling a bit masochistic, decided to YouTube the "ceremony" of watching to a couple of curmudgeons rattle on the whisky topic. The results can be found here:

www.oswa.co.uk/oswa-winners-2022

The more interesting aspect(for me) which I wish they would publish from the YouTube session would be the "People's Choice" picks for each category.

Any opinions from Connosr community?

23 days ago 6Who liked this?

Astroke replied

@fiddich1980 I watched a condensed version but most of the contenders I can't really comment on. Springbank should only win most difficult single malt to find on a shelf, despite it will almost always win distillery of the year.

23 days ago 6Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@fiddich1980, thank you for taking the time to share this with the Connosr community. I too would like to see the 'People's Choice" results....that way I will be able to steer away from fashionable and trendy whisky and focus more narrowly on my own preferences, all the while hoping for my favourites to NOT be selected in any category.

Cheers! tumbler_glass tumbler_glass

23 days ago 7Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@fiddich1980 - thanks for the heads up slight_smile .

Just looked at the winners now. A few I've not tried (Orchard House, Victoriana, and RB 15 - though I'm about to open bottles of the last two, soon) but, in general, I'd say they were decent shouts.

I guess, as @weirdo has pointed out on this thread, the majority of votes are most likely from folk in the UK and Europe (and/or avid fans of Ralfy and Roy) so one can expect certain bottlings to be at the forefront of the voter's minds. And, obviously, our whiski scene is a bit different to the Americas and, no doubt, votes reflect that.

Springbank as best distillery is a no brainer, really. Arran 10 is a great whisky, available and cheap, so no problems there. I'm a fan of Signatory, though was surprised new 'darlings', the Thompson Bros, didn't get that one. And one can't really go wrong with any Red Breast.

My only quibble would be the NWFTB as best blend. In my opinion, it's gone downhill of late and I'm sure there are better ones out there.

I'm wondering if the bookies would take bets on the winners?!?! I'll happily put my mortgage on the best distillery winner for 2023 ... and for the next ten years, at least laughing

23 days ago 4Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@paddockjudge - That is my big fear, too! I think you're safe though ... I've never known anyone with the ability to seek out drool inducing independent bottles like your good self stuck_out_tongue

23 days ago 4Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@RianC, A labour of love in the pursuit of happiness.

Cheers! tumbler_glass tumbler_glass

23 days ago 3Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

@paddockjudge Your safe none of the "People's Choice", would make your list.sweat_smile rofl

22 days ago 3Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

@fiddich1980 I agree with you that the 'peoples choice' awards are interesting. In all honesty it should be the main award not the one chosen by a few dozen youtubers.

I suppose the danger they're trying to guard against is if it's opened up to the entire internet to vote there is a danger of the awards being hijacked.

This difference in opinion between the public and the experts opinion is most obvious with the choice of independent bottler. With Cadenheads being the public choice by a country mile but not even get nominated in the judges choices (Second year in a row that has happened incidentally!) What makes it even more strange is that Cadenheads are owned by JA Mitchell the owners of the beloved and much lauded Springbank.

I suspect this is political. Cadenheads recently announced that they are cutting association with all their franchise stores outside the UK. A move that has not gone down well in whisky circles. Although I'm guessing it was necessary to keep the business going post Brexit.

Oh the joys of brexit and it's numerous benefits!

22 days ago 3Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@Wierdo - yeah but, come on, man, black passports again ... laughing flag_gb stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye

21 days ago 1Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

Wow! That post was so good it appeared twice.

21 days ago 0

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@britwhiskyfan@paddockjudge@NamBeist@Hewie@RianC + 1 others

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