The Malt Maniacs Awards 2018

Since 1997, the Malt Maniacs (an international collective of malt whisky enthusiasts) have been enjoying and discussing the pleasures of (single malt) whisky with like-minded whisky lovers from all over the world. Since 2003, we have organised (non-stop) our very own annual ‘amateur’ whisky competition. We like to think that, over the years, our modest little initiative has evolved into one of the leading (and most independent) whisky competitions in the world. You can find more details about our collective and its history on:

For this 16th edition of the Malt Maniacs Awards (MMA), we were delighted in receiving new comers, such as Valinch & Mallet, Sansibar, The Spirits Shop Selection, Whisky & Rum or Asta Morris, as examples.

Not only Scotch single malts were entered in this prestigious whisky competitions, but single malts, blended malts, blends, grain whiskies or whiskey produced in Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Taiwan, The Netherlands, Switzerland shipped from Europe and Asia. Thus, the MMA is truly an international representation.

MMA 2018: The Rules

Our fundamentals, since beginning have been for the judges:

  • 100% independent
  • 100% Blind


In the Malt Maniacs Awards, medals are won on merit, similar to the system that is used by the boy scouts. The winners in specific categories receive awards instead – hence the name of our competition. There are six award categories in three price brackets. We distinguish between these six awards categories:

  • Non-Plus-Ultra Award (Overall top scoring whisky out of all Malt Maniacs Awards entries that year)
  • Best Natural Cask Award (Best whisky matured exclusively in ‘untreated’, regular casks)
  • Best Sherry Cask Award (Best whisky matured exclusively in sherry casks)
  • Best Peated Malt Award (Best whisky distilled from – relatively – peated malted barley)
  • Thumbs Up Award (Most exciting new release in that price category that year)

Every bottle that is entered in our competition can win only one award (as well as only one medal). Apart from the six awards categories listed above, there are three different price brackets –

Daily Drams (the bottles with a retail price of up to 60 Euros), Premium Whiskies (the bottles with a retail price between 60and 200 Euros) and Ultra Premium Whiskies (the bottles with a retail price of more than 200 Euros).So there are 18 ‘standard’ awards that are assigned each year – provided we can find a suitable candidate.
If we feel that a certain whisky, bottler or distillery deserves special recognition in a particular year, we sometimes add one or more ‘special’ awards.

Note: the price category was received from the participants

The participants

The MMA cannot take place without the participating companies submitting their bottles to us. So, a big thank you to them!

The participants were:

Acla Selection
AD Rattray
ARen Trading Co., Ltd
Asta Morris
Atom Supplies
Bass Chaos
Beam Suntory
Berry Bros & Rudd
Boston Tung
Chamber Premier
Douglas Laing
Elixir Distillers
Glenallachie distillery
Hot Malt
Millstone/Zuidam distillers
Paul John
Southarea Club
Spirit Shop’s Selection Dong Fang Ming
Tiger Huan
Valinch & mallet
Vito Yao
Walter Lee
Whisky &Rhum
Wilson & Morgan

And some anonymous as well

And finally, the moment you are waiting for……!!!!

AWARDS –Supreme Winners

Kavalan (57.8%, OB, C#O090619031A, Port Cask, 184Bts)

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask (57.8%, OB, C#S081215028, Sherry Butt, 496Bts)

AWARDS – Ultra Premium Category

Non-Plus-Ultra Award (Ultra Premium)

Benrinnes 20YO 1997/2018 (55.0%, Signatory, C#9734, Sherry Hogshead, For LMDW, 239Bts)

Best Natural Cask Award (Ultra Premium)

Ledaig 20YO 1997/2017 “Stealing Beauty” (61.1%, Spirits Salon, C#800111, bourbon barrel, 120Bts)

Kavalan Solist Moscatel (56.3%, OB, C#MO100625020A, 1st Fill Moscatel Sherry Cask)

Best Sherry Cask Award (Ultra Premium)

Springbank Blackadder Statement 2001/2018 (59%, Blackadder, C#130, Sherry Hogshead, 96Bts)

Best Peated Malt Award (Ultra Premium)

Blackadder Raw Cask Loch Indaal 10YO 2007 (63.3%, Blackadder, C#3413, Hogshead, 244Bts)

AWARDS – Premium Category

Non-Plus-Ultra Award (Premium)

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask (57.8%, OB, C#S081215028, Sherry Butt, 496Bts)
Kavalan (57.8%, OB, C#O090619031A, Port Cask, 184Bts)

Best Natural Cask Award (Premium)

Amrut Chronicles 2012/2018 (60%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, Bourbon, 660 Bts)

Best Sherry Cask Awards (Premium)

Kavalan 7YO 2010/2017 (58.6%, OB For Asia Palate Association, C#S100309004A, Sherry Butt, 504Bts)

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask (56.3%, OB, C#S090102018, 1st Fill sherry butt, 473Bts)

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask (59.4%, OB for Tiger selection Fu Yun, C#S090306028, 1st Fill Sherry Cask, 463Bts)

Kavalan 7YO 2010/2017 (56.3%, OB C#S100303016A, Oloroso Sherry Butt, 502Bts)

Best Peated Malt Award (Premium)

Caol Ila 7YO 2011/2018 (56.1%, Asta Morris, C#AM055, 580 Bts)

Thumbs Up (Premium)

Edradour 2008/2018 (57.9%, OB, C#8, First Fill Sherry Butt for LMDW, 515Bts)

AWARDS – Daily Dram Category

Non-Plus-Ultra Award (Daily Dram)

English Whisky Company, 8YO 2009/2017 (52.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, C#800/424, Sauternes/Bourbon Barrels, 845 Bts)

Ledaig 12YO 2005/2018 (57.9%, Wilson & Morgan, C#8000073-74, Sherry finish Oloroso, 587Bts)

Best Natural Cask Award (Daily Dram)

Elements of Islay Peat Full Proof (59.3%, Elixir Distillers)

Best Sherry Cask Award (Daily Dram)

Millstone Peated (46%, OB, PX Cask)

Best Peated Malt Award (Daily Dram)

English Whisky Company, 8YO 2018 (61.9%, Cadenhead’s, Bourbon Hogshead, 228 Bts)

Thumbs Up (Daily Dram)

Scallywag 10YO Speyside Blended Scotch Whisky (46.2%, Douglas Laing, 4,500Bts)

The scorecard with all individual scores can be downloaded as PDF.

The graphics (artwork) of the medals can be downloaded here.

Panel of Judges

Olivier Humbrecht (OH), France,
Konstantin Grigoriadis (KG), Austria
Patrick De Schulthess (PdS), Switzerland
Krishna Nukala (KN), India
Robert Karlsson (RK), Sweden,
Pete Silver (PS), USA
Ulf Buxrud (UB), Sweden
Patrick Brossard (PB), Switzerland
Tim Puett (TP), USA

Technical support provided by Benjamin Chen (SG)

Entries with a median score below 80 are not presented.

Some impressions of the judges on this year’s entries:

Tim Puett (USA) about:

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask (57.8%, OB, S081215028, Sherry Butt, 496Bts)

“Old school sherry, tastes like old Speyside whiskies”

Penderyn Rich Oak Single Cask (59.8%, OB, C#D161, 289Bts)

“Fun, potpourri, gooseberry, super fruity, taste like old Irish whisky”

Olivier Humbrecht (FR) about:

Amrut Chronicles 2012/2018 (60%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, Bourbon, 660 Bts):

“Elegant bourbon medium power. Nice peppery mineral. Long finish. Beautiful fruit on finish. Gorgeous.”

Kavalan 8YO 2009/2017 (57.8%, OB, C#S090319003, Sherry Cask, 473 Bts)

“Dark sweet sherry. Round balanced. Great old refined. Fabulous”

Patrick de Schulthess (CH) about:

Caol Ila 7YO 2011/2018 (56.1%, Asta Morris, C# AM055, 580 Bts)

“light amber, ripe peach, rock, melon, honeycomb, peat, tar, camphor, with a long finish without default, on sultana, fresh almond, milk chocolate and camphor. Superb”

Springbank Blackadder Statement 2001/2018 (59%, Blackadder, C#130, Sherry Hogshead, 96Bts)

“dark amber, with a shy creamy nose, a palate on powerful milk and dark chocolates, creamy caramel, balanced tar and camphor flavours. Superb palate. The finish is long, without default, buttery, on liquorice, tar and peat. Very well balanced.

Krishna (IN) about:

Amrut Chronicles 2012/2018 (60%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, Bourbon, 660 Bts):

On first tasting- Classic smoke and nose….lots of dried fruits.. Raisins.. etc..fruit cake….this is something special at least on nose..very smooth, classic palate that is not so sweet, not so bitter, but has some elegance..
Re tasted- Lovely coconut caramel toffees…. Beautiful sweet smoke. Some heavy dry fruits..Some luxurious dry fruit notes. Very sweet and smooth, easy to drink…. Lovely fruity finish with some organics.

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask (58.6%, OB for Tiger Selection QianZhuo, C#S090306021, 1st Fill sherry butt, 476Bts)

“Classic rich, complex nose of a deep sherried whisky….dry fruits galore.. Figs, dates, raisins, spices like cloves, cinnamon, Christmas cake..mandarin oranges….exceedingly sweet and thick, with organics, fruit cake, what not … brilliantl y sweet and sherry finish that is everlasting..

Benromach 10YO (57%, OB, 100 Proof)

Initial tasting- Sweet and smoky. Lovely nose. Classic taste. Very delicious. Thouroughly enjoyable whisky

Retasted- Smoke. Sweet and salts..liquorice toffee…some peat….spicy, hot, sweets galore..Lovely round and syrupy stuff, very sweet. Hot and honeyed finish.

Patrick Brossard (CH) about:

English Whisky Company, 8YO 2009/2017 (52.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, C#800/424, Sauternes/Bourbon Barrels, 845 Bts)

A whisky with a fresh nose, aromatic, intense, floral, slightly smoky, with some bitter and aromatic herbs. On the palate, it is fruity, intense, mellow, round, floral, on exotic fruits, some aromatic herbs, peat smoke, other stewed fruits, sugary flavours and light aromatic herbs. Well balanced.Very good and complex.

Millstone Peated (46%, OB, PX Cask)

A whisky with a peaty to very peaty nose, slightly young on the palate, rich, fresh, peaty, aromatic, camphor, some iodine, soot and fudge.
A very nice fresh whisky, with a complex and subtle aromatic peat smoke. Well made.


This 16th MMA edition has seen some changes compared to the last edition, with changes in the price categories to reflect the increased prices on whisky. As for the previous editions, Kavalan won again this year, even if we had some changes in the judges, with the return of Ulf Buxrud. This highlights the excellent quality of their Solist single casks. Interestingly, we have seen some serious contenders from Scotland, with a Benrinnes from La Maison du Whisky, a Springbank from Blackadder and a very surprising Caol Ila from Asta Morris, showing that a single malt can be stunning already at 7 YO. The Amrut Chronicles for La Maison du Whisky or the Dutch Millstone PX Peated are further demonstration that age does not always matter. Often sherried whiskies obtain high ratings, but this year, we have seen some non-sherried whiskies doing very well, as example the English Whisky Company from That-boutique-y Whisky and Cadenhead’s, without forgetting one of two overall winner, a Port version of Kavalan.

I wish to thank again all the participants for submitting their entries to this competition, as well as all the judges and Benjamin Chen, Singapore for the additional formatting. I hope that the number of participants, entries and judges will increase in years!


Patrick Brossard MMA2018 organiser, on behalf of all the MM who have been involved in this work.