Scotland’s finest malt ‘marred by whiff of rotten eggs’

Sulphur-CandlesScotch whisky’s finest malts are being ruined by the smell of rotten eggs, an expert has suggested.

Respected whisky writer Jim Murray claimed that sulphur being used to kill off bacteria in wooden casks is tarnishing the Scotland’s world famous brand.

The barrels are used by distillers to “age” their product and mature its taste.

Murray is calling on distillery chiefs to “weed out” the imported barrels which are “undermining an entire industry’s reputation.”

“We are facing crisis time. This is no longer an occasional problem, it’s rampant,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying in the new edition of his book, the ‘Whisky Bible.’

“Sadly it is no longer restricted to Scotland: defective whisky is found in Ireland, Japan, Canada … Whichever country you may be in.

“It is time to wake up, pull your head out of the sand and smell the sulphur. I am meeting people who are being turned off by this stink bomb nose and bitter finish they cannot tolerate. We have got to the stage where a significant number of bottles are substandard,” he said.

Whisky is traditionally distilled in copper pot stills to rid the finished product of a sulphurous smell, but many distillers then use second-hand sherry butts to add a fruity finish during maturation.

Many of the casks, imported from Spain, have been treated with sulphur candles which provide an anti-bacterial coating.

Up to a third of people is genetically unable to smell the pungent fumes, making it easier for tainted batches to slip through.

But Murray wants all distillers to employ a blender who can spot the problem.

Sullivans Cove named Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year in 2013 Whisky Bible

Sullivans Cove, Tasmania’s luxury single malt whisky, has been named Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s 2013 Whisky Bible.

Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask HH509 scored 96.5/100, the highest score ever achieved by a Southern Hemisphere whisky, and was named Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year. It is one of only 60 out of 4500 whiskies to have scored 96.5 and above, placing this exceptional whisky in the top 1% of whiskies ever made.

Now in its 10th year, Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible aims to annually score every whisky available on the market. The book currently list 4,500 whiskies, each individually tasted, evaluated and rated by Murray, with the 2013 edition adding 1,300 whiskies to the list.

2012 has been a fantastic year for the boutique Tasmanian producer, winning Gold at the World Whisky Masters, being named Australasian Distiller of the Year at the Wizards of Whisky and now completing the grand slam with Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year.

Speaking from LA where he is currently on tour promoting the USA launch of Sullivans Cove, Chief distiller Patrick Maguire was delighted with the results: “This is the second time this week that I have been called up with great news. First it was Australasian Distiller of the Year and now Jim Murray’s Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year! This is the greatest moment of my distilling career. To be awarded that kind of score by Jim Murray is just unbelievable. I would like to say a big thanks to the team back home; this is true testament to our hard work and its just such a great feeling to know that you have made an historic whisky. Huge party at the distillery when I get back!”

According to Murray, Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask HH509 “…re-wrote the Australian whisky books…it is not just the best whisky I tasted from Taz (sic), but it walked off with Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year. Not only that, it made its way to the Whisky Bible World Whisky of the Year taste off conducted among the six best whiskies I had tasted this year, hob-nobbing with the likes of Buffalo Trace, Ardbeg and Ballantine’s 17.”

This adds to Tasmanian whisky’s growing reputation for excellent whisky. In addition to Sullivans Cove, which has now won its third “Liquid Gold” award, Old Hobart Distillery and Nant Distillery have both achieve “Liquid Gold” status. Jim Murray awards Liquid Gold status to whiskies that score 94/100 or higher in his Whisky Bible and these whiskies are considered to be the very finest currently available in the world.