Billy Stitchell and his small team on the shores of the Sound of Islay learned in July that Caol Ila 12 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky had won the International Wine & Spirit Competition Trophy – the competition’s top award – for the best Single Malt Scotch Whisky under 15 Years Old.
And last week, Billy went down in person to pick up the award, in a ceremony at London’s ancient Guildhall attended by wine and spirits makers from around the globe.
Earlier in the year, Caol Ila 12 year old had set the scene for this supreme achievement by walking away with a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition as well as a Master at the Scotch Whisky Masters.
The IWSC’s judges wrote about Caol Ila:
“Peat fires, lemon, lime, smoky bacon, lapsang souchong tea are all on the gorgeous nose. All delivered in a bowl of crème brûlée with a light menthol breeze blowing from behind. Rich, malty sweetness in the mouth with citrus, dark berries and delicate twist of wood smoke. Invigorating yet gentle. Magic !”
“Stunning dram” – Lagavulin™
From the other end of Islay, Lagavulin 16 year old and Lagavulin Distillers Edition, as so often before, won a Gold or higher award in every competition they entered.
In the last 6 years, Lagavulin 16 year old has earned itself 21 Gold Medals or higher in major international competitions. In 2010 alone, this iconic and much adored Islay malt took
• a Gold Medal at San Francisco
• a Master at the Scotch Whisky Masters
• a Gold – Best in Class at the IWSC
• a Gold at the International Spirits Challenge
The IWSC judges spoke of “A stunning dram in its best condition”.
Commenting on the 2010 awards, Diageo’s Dr Nicholas Morgan said:
“These results reflect a consistent pattern of achievement over many years, and across all major competitions – results that the people of Islay can be proud of”
“This must confirm that these malt whiskies are delivering – and being independently recognised for – a high and consistent quality. We are immensely proud to see the excellence of our single malt whiskies, particularly Lagavulin, now often joined by Caol Ila, acknowledged and rewarded at these international events.”
“When there’s such an overwhelming – and ever-growing – number of single malts on the market, we know that it must be helpful for many consumers to have an objective benchmark to guide them in their choices. Success in these well managed competitions has to be one of the best signposts to enjoyable whiskies.”
Photo shows Billy Stitchell, Distillery Manager at Caol Ila on Islay, receiving the IWSC Trophy for the best Single Malt Scotch Whisky under 15 Years Old from Prince Michael zu Salm-Salm, IWSC President, on 17 November 2010.