The latest addition to this group will be the Wizards of Whisky, which has been started by well-known whisky writer and journalist Dominic Roskrow. The WOWs will depart from traditional awards, however, by only considering non-Scotch entries. He is starting them because he believes there is an exciting movement in this arena.
“Everything about world whisky appeals to me – small and passionate individuals with a new and exciting story to tell, who are delighted to share their enthusiasm – what’s not to love?” he told me.
The move is not entirely surprising, he added, given he currently edits the online magazine The World Whisky Review.
“An awards event is a logical extension. And now there has been an explosion in new distilleries and exciting whiskies so the timing is ideal,” said Dominic, who also founded the Spirits Business World Masters and Irish Masters when he was at the magazine.
The awards – which will take place in September – will be judged by a panel in London and include whiskies in categories from Japan, America, Canada, Australasia, Ireland, Asia, Africa and elsewhere.
But Dominic said he hopes to not only create a new ceremony honouring global whiskies, but one that will eventually celebrate the changing and diversifying atmosphere of the whisky industry.
“I’d love to get to the point pretty quickly where I could put on a live event unlike anything else in the trade. I’d like to have a themed awards night with illusionists, magic and entertainment. I’d also like to reflect the young and rebellious nature of the new wave of world whisky with an exciting awards event that is a bit rock and roll,” he said.
Another main goal is simply to educate people on the vast selection of whiskies not from Scotland, which is understandable given the – at times – difficulty in finding them.
“Many of these distilleries are very small and their whiskies aren’t widely available and can be expensive. It takes dedication, time and money to seek out a lot of world whisky,” said Dominic, who added he believes he is the right person for the job, having written extensively on world whiskies in his last three books, which include The World’s Best Whiskies, 1001 Whiskies To Try Before You Die and The Whisky Opus.
In order to further broaden access to these whiskies for the UK public, the plan will be to create a 12-date consumer tasting tour and miniature tasting packs through his Whisky Tasting Club.
“I think world whisky is at three levels at the moment – just starting, just bottling, and established. And from that last category there are lots of great new world whiskies. Why pick one when there’s a whole world out there?” he concluded.