The World’s Best Blended Scotch Whiskeys 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
A total of six blended whiskey expressions made the final “Sweeps” judging rounds at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC). Three of these whiskeys were blended Scotch whiskeys and three were blended single malts. Three other expressions of blended Scotch whiskey won double gold medals.
Founded in 2000, the SFWSC is the oldest spirits competition in North America and the largest spirits judging panel in the world. A total of 70 judges from around the world evaluated approximately 5,000 spirits over two weeks in April 2022.
The competition is organized by the Tasting Alliance, an organization founded by Anthony Dias Blue, and in addition to the SFWSC, it includes spirits competitions in New York and Singapore and wine competitions in San Francisco and New York.
Johnnie Walker Green Label, Blended Malt Scotch Whiskey, 40% ABV, 750ml was one of three finalists in the Blended Scotch Malt Whiskey category. Blended malts are a blend of single malt whiskeys from several distilleries. Unlike blended Scotch whiskey, they don’t include any grain whiskey in the blend.
The Johnnie Walker Green Label expression is part of the Johnnie Walker range. At some point, this term was discontinued by Diageo in all markets except Singapore where it was particularly popular. The expression was resurrected several years ago as a blend of various malts as part of Diageo’s efforts to premiumise the Johnnie Walker range.
The expression is slightly earthy/peaty with pronounced cereal notes. It is soft on the palate with intense notes of dried fruit and liquorice. The finish is long and sweet with a lingering peppery finish.
The second runner up in the Blended Malt category was Blackhound, Highland Single Malt Whisky, NAS, 40% ABV, 700ml. Blackhound is a single malt blend bottled for James Busby Fine Wines and Spirits for the Australian market.
The source of the whiskey is undisclosed, but in Australia it is commonly believed to be Loch Lomond. The whiskey is not available in the United States, although the odd bottle only appears occasionally. You can also order it directly from one of the Australian internet sellers.
The whiskey shows hints of vanilla and stone fruit on the nose. On the palate it is creamy and unctuous with hints of stone and tropical fruit and hints of liquorice. The finish is long and fruity.
The latest finalist in the Blended Malt category is Naked Malt, Blended Malt Scotch Whiskey, NAS, 40% ABV, 750ml. The expression belongs to Edrington, home to such legendary single malts as The Macallan and Highland Park. It was formerly part of the Famous Grouse range where it was branded ‘Naked Grouse’.
The identity of the single malts in the blend is undisclosed, but the company notes that the whiskey is “finished” for around six months in first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks. Would you expect less from the owner of The Macallan?
No, contrary to what you may have heard, Naked Malt is not The Macallan by any other name. This is a very good whiskey though and at an average retail price of $30/750ml bottle, excellent value for money.
The whiskey presents notes of dried stone fruits on the nose and on the palate. It is smooth on the palate, offering intense dried fruit notes of golden raisin and fig along with cinnamon spice. The finish is long and sweet, with pronounced notes of dried fruit and a peppery touch.
Three whiskey expressions vie for the top honors of Best of Class Blended Scotch Whisky.
Dewars, Double Double, Blended Scotch Whisky, 32 Year Old, 40% ABV, 750 ml is a 32-year-old blended Scotch whiskey that is finished in casks that previously contained Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry. PX is a type of sherry made from partially shaved grapes. It is sweet and viscous and imparts flavors of raisin, fig, date and prune to whiskeys finished or aged in casks that previously contained it.
The whiskey has distinctive notes of dried fruit on the nose, as well as some hints of caramel. It is soft and creamy on the palate, with dried fruit and licorice notes. The finish is long and sweet, with lingering notes of dried black fruits.
The Clansmen, Blended Scotch Whisky, NAS, 40% ABV, 750ml is a blended Scotch whiskey made from Highland single malts. The whiskey is produced by Loch Lomond at its distillery in Dunbartonshire, not far from Glasgow.
The whiskey is grassy and fruity on the nose with hints of caramel. It is soft on the palate with notes of tropical fruits. The finish is long, sweet and fruity.
The final candidate for Best of Class Blended Scotch Whiskey is Midnight Peat, NAS, 40% ABV, 7o0ml. The whiskey is produced at Bladnoch distillers and represents a collaboration between master distiller Nick Savage and various mixologists based in Australia.
Savage was previously the master distiller of The Macallan before leaving to join Bladnoch in 2019. This whiskey is not available in the United States, although it does return from time to time.
The whiskey is fruity on the nose with hints of smoke and caramel. On the palate, it is fruity and creamy with a quality of pastry cream and hints of caramel apple. The finish is long, fruity and sweet with lingering notes of caramel apple and pepper.
See also double gold medalists: Old Parr 12 yearsanother outstanding blended Scotch whiskey value, as well as Flower and by Barrowman.
This year’s SFWSC judging panel showcased outstanding blended Scotch whiskies. They offer both exceptional quality and exceptional value.