The Whisky Tasting Club

RoW- RIP: Part 2

Since my last posting I’m delighted to say that I have heard from The World Whisky’s Rob Allanson and Dave Broom to say that there are moves afoot to address the issue of the ‘Rest of the World’ category.

Good, because there can be no doubt that it’s necessary, and already my last blog has provoked a wave of support and comment. Here, then is my solution:

1. Scrap the use of the term ‘Rest of the World’ and replace it with New World Whiskies.

It’s a term that has served the wine world well, and although you could argue that the likes of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are hardly new wine territories after 25 years of worldwide distribution, the tag has stuck and is widely understood by drinkers.

So that give us a at least a 25 year breathing space while we think of something better – and by that time who knows where the world of whisky will be?

 2. Extend coverage of New World Whiskies by awarding a New World winner for each Continent

This is an entirely logical and sensible thing to do, and in the case of Europe and Australasia, there’s an argument to divide the huge regions even further – in to Tasmania and Mainland Australia, and in to Northern and Southern Europe . In each territory there would be awards for single malt, blends and in some, potentially for ‘other whisky styles’. There are rye and ‘bourbon’style whiskies maturing in Australia, for instance. Which raises another issue – if bourbons have to be made in America, what do you call an Australian, Dutch or German version?

The winners from each Continent would go forward to complete for the title of New World Whisky of the Year in their whisky style, and the winners of those would compete for the world title as now.

 3. Slash the entrance fee for New World Whisky distilleries

As I said in my last blog, the purpose of Awards is to make money for the organisers, but there should be a more altruistic aspect to them, too. Part of the purpose of awards is to surely raise the profile of achieving distilleries, and to recognise their relative progress. Further, it should be a way of letting the world know they exist. Longer term, annual awards should act as a whisky census, plotting the evolution of an emerging country and providing a pathway for it to progress down.

To do that effectively you need to have distilleries involved, even when they’re small, and the best way to do that is to make it a no brainer for them to enter – if there’s little to lose by entering and loads to gain, then why wouldn’t they enter?

It’s not going to cost the World Whisky Awards organisers a lot to go down this path because there are so few entrants at the moment. Just as micro brewers in Britain get tax breaks to encourage them, so should the New World distilleries get a break in the awards.

 Introduce another round of judging to accommodate the New World

Certain territories are now mature enough to be treated in the same way as anywhere else. This means further complicating the World Whisky Awards and introducing another round of judging, but it’s essential that it’s done. The organisers have to include new judges based in the territories being judged, and they have to raise the perception that the whiskies are being judged closer to their birth place and people who are empathetic.

Just look at Australasia. You can quibble about the exact structure, and this is my first stab at sub categorisation, but you might have something like this for the single malt category.:

 Tasmania non peated

Over 6 years old

Under 6 years old

 Tasmania peated

Over 6 years old

Under 6 years old

 Mainland Australia non peated

Over 6 years old

Under 6 years old

 Mainland Australia peated

Over 6 years old

Under 6 years old

 New Zealand

Under 6 years old

Over 6-10 years old

Over 10 years old

 The winner of each of these categories would compete for the title of Australasian whisky of the year, which in turn would join the other New World single malts in the later stages. It’s a bit like having an Oceania qualifying section in the football World Cup.

  It means more work and an investment of time, and it makes for a more complicated awards structure. But that’s what happens when you evolve. And if the organisers baulk at the work load, then they should pay me to do it. I can think of a good group of people ideally qualified to help make it work.

They won’t of course. They won’t even acknowledge that there’s anything in these blogs that they hadn’t already thought of.

No matter, though – as long as the changes come.

They’re overdue.

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