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Congratulations to Wild About Whisky for their 2011 Gold Award….

What makes a great bar? There are only a few questions in life that prompt so much debate and frankly this is one of them. Whether it is in a hotel, restaurant or a traditional bar, what gives it that buzz, ambience and pulling power? Four years ago Whisky Magazine launched its quest to honour the greatest bars in the world. The original scheme evolved into our awards programme for bars, hotels and restaurants.
These awards honour the very best venues in the world, and developed out of the Great Whisky Bars of the World series. This comprises an accreditation system to recognise excellence in whisky. With three levels, Gold, Silver and Bronze, we recognise any establishment, no matter how big or small, that celebrates whisky. Any premises that applied were accredited under the programme and received their certificate dependent on their range and quality of whisky.
There are really four tangible areas that make a great whisky bar: glassware; range of whiskies; the venue and the staff. Outside of these areas we get into the subjective realms of feel and ambience. You may feel comfortable in a traditional whisky bar, in say a rural setting, but the next drinker may feel at home in the slick low-lit hotel bars of the big cities. So while these are clearly important factors for the purposes of the accreditation programme we had to stick with less subjective matters.
With glassware we sought venues that offered their whiskies in more than just a tumbler. It was up to the venue what glassware they used but it had to reflect the premium nature of the liquid. To be considered in the accreditation scheme the venue had to carry a range of whiskies; including at least 10 malt whiskies, three blended Scotch whiskies, one bourbon and one Irish whiskey or be an unusual selection overall the selection had to be well balanced.
The venue must also be proactive in the promotion of whisky. It is no use keeping the spirit light under a bushel, the venue has to shout about whisky and encourage new drinkers.
One of the most important considerations is the barman. This is the frontline, the first contact with you, whether a beginner or aficionado. The staff must respond with knowledge to the question which whisky would you recommend; they must display evidence of having been trained in the knowledge of whisky.
So this guide is a listing of all the bars in the world we have found so far, and we have flagged up the ones that have been included in our accreditation scheme. The Gold and Silver winners are listed separately at the front, then included, and highlighted in the main listings, ordered alphabetically by country and then by city. There has never been a better time to get out there and explore some amazing places to drink.
So if we have missed out your favourite bar, or you run a bar that is not included, please let us know and we’ll make sure to include you.

This article care of The Macallan Great Whisky Bars Of The World 2011 – a supplement to
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A week of moonshine and madness…….

A huge thank you to all who supported this year’s Dullstroom Winter Festival in general and the whisky bar specifically!!
It was busy madness on an industrial scale…looking forward to a similar successful celebration this time next year…
Secreted amongst our collection is a miniature (50ml) of a Gordon & Macphail blended malt from the Mortlach distillery bottled during the early 1970’s.
Almost all the production from Mortlach goes into the Johnnie Walker range, so single or blended malts, proprietary or independents are a rarity.
The Mortlachs we have had the privilege of tasting have been generally phenomenal expressions so a decision was made to open this little offering…..
Mortlach Pure Highland Malt 40% Gordon & Macphail Miniature
The pale amber colour in the bottle belies this dram’s exotically dark and mysterious nature in the glass.
Aged oloroso sherry in deep dark orange amber, liquorice, cloves, seville orange rind dipped in dark choclate laced with Carribean rum. Exotic, luxurious, rich, sweet and spicy with a whiff of old, dank Spanish oak.
Astonishing nose!
Softly coating the tongue, oloroso sweet, then the powerhouse of sherry, oak and seville marmalade, finishing with a briny mix of stewed rum and raisin.
Outstanding whisky…just wish there was more 🙁 92
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A selection of heretic but extremely spiritual ‘scriptures’ that didn’t make King Jim’s bible……

Littlemill 19yo 58.1% Cadenhead’s Single Malt

Dark rich toffee, brandy snaps, honeyed and spiced stewed dark fruits and cranberry/blueberry liqueur.
Exquisite full-bodied mouthfeel, seductively smooth with rich rumtopf and that honeyed spiced dark fruit chugging in the engine room.
This dram opens dramatically with fruit gums and blackcurrant with Rowntree’s blackcurrant pastilles now dominating the palate, the finish long, fruit-laden and salty.
Mindbogglingly great! 94
Dalmore 17yo 1992 Sauterne Hogshead 59.1% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt
Cola, late harvest, liquorice allsorts, rich stewed dark fruits, toffee’n vanilla with a grapey bottom note.
This dram has a massive mouthfeel of succulent, smooth, sweet pressed grapes, raisins and currants with a sweet chilli finish and that grapey note appears that just lingers forever……
Soooooo delicious. 93
This was a silver award winner at the 2009 Independent Bottlers’ Challenge Highland 13-18Years Old.
Tomatin 16yo 1994 Sherry Cask 53.6% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt
Oloroso sherry immediately assails the nostrils, then delicious dark toffee, stewed prunes with the European oak and barley creaking in the depths.
A sublime combination of oloroso and pedro ximenez sherries on the palate, soft and ohhhh soooo sexy with raisins completing this gorgeous, rich, sweet sherry concoction with a dash of anise…moreish beyond belief! One of the few truly addictive whiskies….92
Bruichladdich 19yo 1991 Bourbon Hogshead 56.9% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt
Woah! Lemon icing sugar layered onto lemon barley.
The palate is all liquid vanilla and icing, then lemon sherbet and loads of salt on the finish.
I’ve always loved the dichotomy of this style of whisky, like Springbank and Old Pulteney, that are so intensely sweet initially then finish with a bucket-load of salt.
Water pumps up the barley on the nose and sweetens the vanilla icing on the palate, tempering the salt.
A gorgeous maritime dram. 88
Balblair 19yo 1990 Bourbon Barrel 55.7% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt
Vanilla and cereal, cider and spice on the nose.
The sweet vanillas are immediately evident on the tongue, then some spicy, peppery notes mid-palate finishing with strong American oak and a lingering apple sweetness.
A dash of water boosts the sweetness on every level.
A very pleasant dessert wine style dram. 85
Hazelburn 7yo 2001 Small Oak Casks 49.4% Cadenhead’s Bond Reserve Single Malt
Vanilla, orange blossom and malted barley are prevalent with a faint, youthful off note way down.
Despite the age and abv this dram is oily and so velvety smooth on the palate with plenty vanilla, a mid-palate of spicy pepper and a finish of toasted oak with the slight young rubbery note lingering. 82
Interestingly this whisky one a gold award at the 2009 Independent Bottlers’ Challenge Campbeltown 12 Years and Under.
Royal Lochnagar 12yo 1996 Recharged Butt 58.5% Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection Cask Strength Single Malt
Vanilla soaked barley developing to honeycomb and despite the abv there are distinctive notes of clean cut grass and sweet spring flowers.
Intensely vanilla sweet on the tip of the tongue, then the cask strength ambushes the back of the palate, leaving traces of molten honey and malted barley.
Water brings out more of the floral note with white talc but bitters the mid-palate and finish losing the soft cereals and honey.
Leave water out of this one! 80
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A young, travelling Scot finds refuge and a connection on a dark, chilly night in Dullstroom, South Africa….


Chris Blake, just turned 30, a geologist, avid fisherman and a native of Inverness, decided on an impulse to travel half a world away to catch some trout in the highlands of South Africa.
Arriving in Dullstroom on a chilly evening a couple of weeks ago, a little bit lost, a wee bit homesick, Chris spotted a welcoming sign that read ‘Whisky Tasting’. “Yeah, right…” thought

Chris but curious, he wanted to check it out and stopped his hire car outside an imposing double story venue called Auldstone House.
Auldstone House
Once on the premises he noticed warm inviting lights glowing from a bar called Wild about Whisky and now intrigued, entered.
Later Chris would tell us that initially the warmth and the smell of whisky took him straight back to Scotland and specifically to the Glen Ord distillery, where he once worked.
Then he noticed that there were a few more whiskies than expected, 850 to be precise and realized he hadn’t seen a bar in Scotland with this many!

We started chatting and while the single malts were being poured we touched on Geology, trout, whisky and travelling in no particular order, relishing the opportunity of sharing and connecting passions.

Then a question was asked: “Chris, of all the places you’ve travelled to, where would be your absolute favourite?”
“That’s easy” said Chris. “On a boat in the middle of Loch Ness, a Highland breeze ruffling the surface, my line in the water, looking for brown trout or salmon and then later I would pull into the shore, pitch my tent, light a fire and with my favourite dram at hand cook the fish I had caught earlier that evening.”
He sighed with the memory and said it was time for bed and an early trout rise in the morning.
Chris, it was great to meet a fellow lover of all things, we hope your trip was memorable, that you will visit us again and we shall think of you and Loch Ness…often.
Loch Ness
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Bunnahabhain and The Mariner…..

“Westering home with a song in the air
Light in the eye and its goodbye to care
Laughter o’love and a welcoming there
Isle of my heart my own one”

Black Bottle Original Blend 43% (Bunnahabhain)
Smoke, vanilla, an overipe orange note, elastoplast and then wintergreen starts to dominate. All these notes settled on a solid backbone of smoked grain.
The palate has a gorgeous hit of the sweetest vanilla then a short, peated chilli bite followed by a lingering salty, smoky finish.
Water accentuates the sweet vanilla and citrus notes, while the palate offers softly smoky sweet and an orange schnapps on the finish. 89

Black Bottle Blend 10 yo 43% (Bunnahabhain)
Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Caol Ila. There they are. A cornucopia of Islay malts.
Orange vanilla, salty seaweed, sweet spices, cumin. The grain is there but is hidden under the weighty richness of the malts.
A silky hit of orange tinged vanilla on the tongue, then an Islay explosion of smoke gently rippling to a salted fruity stew finish. The smoke and vanilla lingering.
Left to develop, a delicious smoky toffee emerges reminding me that this has to be one of the best blends on the planet. 94

Bunnahabhain 12yo Single Malt 43%
Oloroso sherry, seville marmalade and malted barley soaked in vanilla with a coating of orange chocolate.
Oily, smooth and sweetly citrus on the palate, then a mid-palate of pepper and spice with a lingering finish of sherried oak.
Water introduces more of the coastal character with the pepper note giving way to a salty finish. 84

Bunnahabhain 18yo xv111 Single Malt 43%
Rich sherry and loads of liquorice, dark toffee and stewed dark fruits.
This is the whisky equivalent of royalty!
Velvety soft on the tongue with the sweetness of the oloroso sherry making way for the salt and pepper with a distinctive finish of raisins and toasted oak.
What a stunning dram! 92

Bunnahabhain 25yo xxv Single Malt 43%
Barley, citrus, a hint of liquorice, orange vanilla and Spanish oak.
If the 18yo is royalty this is pure aristocracy, cultured, beautiful and perfectly balanced.
A hint of smoke, perhaps charred oak in the depths, adds to the character and complexity.
Smooth and so mellow on the tongue, initially citrus soaked barley, then seville marmalade and a salty charred oak on the finish. 90

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To celebrate The James Sedgwick Distillery, Three Ships’ international fame and a Distell whisky tasting at Wild About Whisky we present…..

James Sedgwick Distillery is situated in the town of Wellington, Western Cape and was founded in 1886, making superb South African whisky since 1990.

At the recent 2011 World Whisky Awards held in London, Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish and Three Ships 5yo were nominated in the Best Rest of the World Blended Whisky category with the Bourbon Finish taking the top prize in the No Age category and the 5yo taking the top prize in the 12 And Under.

Earlier this year the international Whisky Magazine’s 2011 Icons of Whisky Awards, recognised James Sedgwick Distillery as the Whisky Brand Innovator of the Year with this quote”…parent company Distell is serious about whisky. It is time South Africa and the world took notice.”
Bain’s Single Grain Whisky 5yo 43%
Caramel and rich honeyed grain, then iced coffee.
Despite the obvious use of American oak there is extraordinary depth to this dram suggesting the richness of European wood.
The vanilla initially, is silky smooth on the palate, a mid-note of bourbon, then a sweet chilli finish.
Water brings out more of the grain and bourbon notes and softens the bitter finish, leaving a lingering liquorice note. 83

Three Ships Select Blended Whisky 3yo 43%
Sweet new make, then sweeter grains with citrus at a deeper level.
The palate is oily with pleasant vanilla new make, then the youngsters start yelling as the chilli hits the back of the throat and an estery note lingers on the finish.
Water boosts the grain character and moderates the bitterness at the end. 76
Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish Blended Whisky 43%
Peat smoke, hot wellies (gumboots), vanilla, toast, a hint of bourbon, spent matches and cedar wood.
On the palate there is immediately icing sugar sweet, then charred oak, pepper and then the sweet bitterness of a Guinness on the finish.
Water boosts the bourbon aspect, subduing the peated notes.
Excellent blend! 88

Three Ships Premium Select Blended Whisky 5yo 43%

Sweet peat and rich grain.The hot wellies are also here along with toasted oak and butterscotch.
A beautifully balanced nose.
The palate has a rich, full bodied mouthfeel, distinctly oily with soft vanillas, a hint of citrus, then loads of peat smoke with a lingering finish of sultanas.
Astonishingly great blend!
Water releases the Islay element in all its glory and makes this one of the best blends on this planet.
A James Sedgwick masterpiece! 90

Three Ships 10yo Single Malt Limited Edition Bottled 2010 43%
Intense rich vanilla pod, then a floral note envelops the malted barley.
A little thin on the palate, a malted sweetness, then big charred oak with a slight bitterness on the finish.
A dash of water reveals a hint of peat smoke but the vanillas and florals are still so dominant. 82
I would love to have tried this at cask strength….