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The Best Whiskey in the World No Longer Hails From Scotland


Here’s some news for Scotland that may be hard to swallow: For the first time ever, a Japanese single malt has been named the best whiskey in the world.

Dr-john | Wikimedia Commons
Barrels in the Yamazaki distillery

This marks the first time in over a decade that a Scottish whiskey hasn’t claimed the top spot on Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible -- an annual compilation by one of the industry’s most revered connoisseurs.

To add insult to injury, not a single Scotch whiskey even managed to crack the top five, the Telegraph reports. And Murray noted that the results should serve as a “wake-up call” for the Scottish whiskey industry given the formidable creations by international competitors.

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Murray said that the winner, Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013, boasted a “near indescribable genius” that “no Scotch can at the moment get anywhere near.” Aged in Oloroso sherry butts for roughly 15 years, a bottle is priced at roughly $160 -- though only 16,000 were ever produced. The Yamazaki distillery is owned by Japanese brewing giant Suntory.

Two American whiskies, Sazerac 18 Year Old Straight Rye and William Larue Weller Straight Bourbon, took second and third places, respectively.

Having sampled over 1,000 whiskies for the compilation, Murray was largely disappointed by the Scottish offerings, which he said left him wondering, “Where were the complex whiskies in the prime of their lives? Where were the blends which offered bewildering layers of depth?”

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Geoff Weiss

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Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at