Chivas Regal’s 25-year-old whisky was named grand champion in the Bartender’s Best Awards – the first drinks awards to be judged solely by bartenders.
After 10 months of preparation and tastings, the winners were announced last night, covering whiskies, rums, tequilas, cognacs, gins, vodkas, liqueurs, bitters and fortified wines. As well as an overall winner in each spirit category, there were sub-categories of “standard”, “premium” and “luxury” based on price.
Only the quality of the liquid in the context of the price of the product were taken into account – a “double blind” methodology designed for evaluating products without any outside influence. The categories were broken down by price alone, ensuring similarly priced products were judged alongside each other.
The overall winner of best rum went to Appleton Estate 21 Year Old from Jamaica while best gin was Geranium 55, the 55% ABV gin that uses geranium as a botanical. The award for best tequila went to Tapatio Blanco.
The winner of best vodka was Belvedere Unfiltered, which is left unfiltered to preserve the unique flavour of the rye grain. Best cognac was Pierre Ferrand 1840, the 45% ABV VS cognac based on a 19th-century recipe that is well suited to cocktails.
Best liqueur was The Bitter Truth Golden Falernum, a classic-style rum-based spiced liqueur, while The Bitter Truth also took the award for best bitters with its Creole Bitters. The award for best fortified wine went to Italian vermouth Cocchi Vermouth di Torino.
The winner of best whisky, which covered American and Japanese whiskies as well as scotch, went to Chivas 25 Year Old which went on to be name overall grand champion across all categories.
The Bartender’s Best Awards were developed by James Triffo and Dan Priseman, with a judging panel made up of leading bartenders from around the UK. They used the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) systematic approach to tasting, with the scores audited independently to ensure a completely fair result.
Triffo said: “People don’t purchase a product based on age statements, they purchase based on a price range they can afford. Likewise, bartenders use products based on price when recommending drinks to customers.
“We’re the first and only spirit awards using this methodology and believe it’s the fairest and most accurate way to judge products used across UK bars.”
Dan added: “It’s a true double-blind process, which ensures that no individual in the room knows which liquid is in which glass. It really is a rigorous process, designed to find the best products available in the UK.”
With no gold, silver and bronze winners, Dan said the Bartender’s Best Awards were designed to be the “Tough Mudder” of spirits awards, only awarding the best of the best.
A proportion of the proceeds generated by the awards will go towards forming an educational trust fund for bartenders to further their education and training.
Whisky: Chivas Regal 25 Year Old (Pernod Ricard UK)
Fortified wine: Cocchi Vermouth di Torino (Speciality Brands)
Bitters: The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters (Love Drinks)
Liqueur: The Bitter Truth Golden Falernum (Love Drinks)
Vodka: Belvedere Unfiltered (Moët Hennessy UK)
Gin: Geranium 55 (Hammer & Son)
Cognac: Pierre Ferrand 1840 Instil Drinks Co)
Rum: Appleton Estate 21 Year Old (J Wray & Nephew UK)
Tequila: Tapatio Blanco (Speciality Brands)
Absinthe (premium): La Maison Fontaine
Vermouth (dry/white): Mancino Blanco
Vermouth (sweet/red): Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
Bitters (aromatic): The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters
Bitters (spiced): Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters
Vodka (standard): Absolut
Vodka (premium): Belvedere Pure
Vodka (luxury): Belvedere Unfiltered
Flavoured vodka (standard): Ketel One Citron
Flavoured vodka (premium): Absolut Craft Herbacious Lemon
Tequila blanco (standard): El Jimador
Tequila blanco (premium): Tapatio
Tequila reposado (premium): Olmeca Altos
Tequila extra-añejo (luxury): Don Julio 1942
Japanese whisky (standard): Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve
Japanese whisky (premium): Hibiki 12 Year Old
Blended scotch (standard): Chivas 12 Year Old
Blended scotch (premium): Johnnie Walker Platinum Label
Blended scotch (luxury): Chivas 25 Year Old
Peated scotch malt (premium): Lagavulin 16 Year Old
Unpeated scotch (standard): Auchentoshan Three Wood
Grain whisky (premium): Haig Club
Bourbon (standard): Bulleit Bourbon
Bourbon (premium): Old Forrester
Bourbon (luxury): Hudson Four Grain
American rye whiskey (standard): Bulleit Rye
American rye whiskey (premium): High West Double Rye
American rye whiskey (luxury): Hudson Manhattan Rye
London dry gin (standard): Hayman’s London Dry Gin
London dry gin (premium): Geranium Gin
London dry gin (luxury): Ford’s Gin
Old Tom-style gin (premium): Hammer & Son Old English
High-strength gin (premium): Geranium 55
Aged gin: Burrough’s Reserve
Sloe Gin (premium): Plymouth Sloe Gin
White rum (standard): Caña Brava
White rum (premium): St Nicholas Abbey
Overproof: Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum
Overproof, golden: Plantation Original Dark
Golden rum (standard): Plantation Guatemala
Golden rum (premium): El Dorado 15 Year Old
Golden rum (luxury): Appleton Estate 21 Year Old
Cachaça, white: Abelha
Cachaça, gold: Abelha
Cognac (standard): Pierre Ferrand 1840
Liqueur, fruit: Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
Liqueur, spiced: The Bitter Truth Golden Falernum
Liqueur, herbal: Licor 43
Liqueur, floral: The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur