ISC Awards- Whiskies

21 June, 2018

Shay Waterworth gives a snapshot of the International Spirits Challenge whisky judging event ahead of three pages revealing the gold medal winners for 2018


THE SCOTCH WHISKY Experience was once again the venue for this year’s whisky leg of the International Spirits Challenge, on the doorstep of Edinburgh Castle. Sitting on top of the Royal Mile in the heart of the city, it seems appropriate that our expert panel of judges have littered the category with gold medals, albeit fewer than last year.

Despite entries being up 6% on 2017, reaching a total of 603 across all categories of whisk(e)y, the number of gold medals awarded was down 13% on the last edition.

It is unlikely that the quality of the global whisky category is decreasing, but more that our judges are expecting more as the competition for awards gets tougher.

This year our world-renowned judging panel returned, headed by Dalmore master blender Richard Paterson and containing some of the biggest names in the industry, such as Glenmorangie’s Bill Lumsden, Suntory’s Shinji Fukuyo, Irish Distillers’ Billy Leighton and Triple Eight’s Randy Hudson.

Through the organisation of the ISC team, run by events co-ordinator Melody Beveridge, the judges went through more than 60,000 drams over the course of a week and hosted a Meet the Blenders session with members of the public.

The overall picture remains that scotch dominates the gold medal count, while Japanese and Irish whiskies came in joint second.

Trophy winners will be announced at the ISC awards dinner on July 12 at Gibson Hall, London.


Chairman: Richard Paterson master blender, Whyte & Mackay Distillers.

Randy Hudson, Triple Eight Distillery; Shinji Fukuyo, chief blender, Suntory; Tadashi Sakuma, senior officer/chief blender, Nikka Whisky Distilling Co; Gordon Motion, master blender, Edrington. 

Angela d’Orazio, master blender, Macmyra Svensk Whisky AB; Billy Leighton, chief blender, Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard; Caroline Martin, master blender, Diageo Technical Centre Europe; Bill Lumsden, head of distilling & whisky creation, The Glenmorangie Company; David Stewart, The Balvenie malt master, William Grant & Sons Distillers.


Still the largest portion of the ISC whisky leg, scotch generated five extra gold medals on last year. A total of 364 medals (gold, silver and bronze) were awarded in the scotch category.

The full list of all medal winners can be found at and in our annual results magazine with the August issue of DI.


Suntory spirits dominated the Japanese category with its Hibiki and The Yamazaki brands, winning five out of seven of the gold medals.

Kavalan was the only other brand to shine through in Asia when it came to the World Whisky category, while Irish Distillers once again took a large portion of the glory in Ireland.

A small-batch whiskey has stepped into the spotlight through Barton 1792 Distillery with its Kentucky Straight bourbon.

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Nick Strangeway

Bar food's blurred lines

Once upon a time pubs and bars were somewhere you went with the sole purpose of getting pissed and there wasn’t a knife and fork in sight, just a packet of dry roasted nuts.