Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Highland Single Malt. Image courtesy Sainsbury's.July 23, 2015 – Ever looked at a “house brand” whisky and wondered whether it was worth buying, even at a lower price than official distillery bottlings? Sainsbury’s sells a “Taste the Difference Highland Single Malt” with no age statement for £20 ($31 USD) that comes from Whyte & Mackay, and it won the trophy for “Best Single Malt Scotch Whisky (no age statement)” at this year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition. It was the only “house brand” whisky among the trophy winners, but while Whyte & Mackay bottles it for Sainsbury’s, that does not necessarily mean it comes from one of the company’s three Highland distilleries (Dalmore, Fettercairn, and Tamnavulin). Since Whyte & Mackay also has an extensive blending operation, the whisky could have come from any one of the dozens of distilleries in the Highlands.

In addition to the Sainsbury’s trophy, seven other whisky-related trophies were awarded by the judges:

Cask Strength Scotch Whisky: Ardbeg Uigeadail
Single Malt Scotch 15 Years & Under: Bowmore Tempest 10 Year Old
Single Malt Scotch Over 15 Years: Glenfiddich 21
Blended Scotch Whisky: Ballantine’s 30
Bourbon: Blanton’s Gold
Worldwide Whiskey: Three Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt
Best Packaging – Brown Spirits: Timorous Beastie from Douglas Laing & Co.

While no overall trophy was awarded for Irish Whiskies, Kilbeggan 21, Jameson 18, and Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy each won “Gold Outstanding” medals.  Kavalan Single Malt from Taiwan’s King Car Distillery was the only other “Gold Outstanding” winner among worldwide whiskies. In addition to Blanton’s Gold, Blanton’s Original, Knob Creek Single Barrel, Jim Beam Signature Craft Soft Red Wheat, Eagle Rare 10, and Kentucky Tavern all won “Gold Outstanding” medals for Bourbons. All four Scotch Whisky trophy winners won “Gold Outstanding” medals, and 19 other Scotch Whiskies also earned the same medals.

“Gold Outstanding” medal winners:
Bowmore 25
Chivas Regal 18
Chivas Regal 25
John Walker & Sons Odyssey
Scottish Leader
Nomad Speyside Blended Scotch
anCnoc 18
Poit Dhubh 21 Blended Malt
Clan Gold 18
Monarch of the Glen 8
Monarch of the Glen 15
Glenmorangie Signet
Whyte & Mackay 13
Jura 30
The Balvenie 30
Glenfiddich Age of Discovery 19 Years Old Bourbon Cask
The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Years Old

The highest-ranking Canadian whisky was Firstwatch Selected Extra Fine Imported Whisky, which is produced by South Africa-based Edward Snell & Co., Ltd. and received a Gold medal. 

A complete list of medal winners is available at the IWSC web site.

Links: International Wine & Spirit Competition | Sainsbury’s