Kentucky Distillery is Top of the World after Unique Double in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2013
One of America's most ancient distilleries today re-wrote the history books when its whiskey was named both the world's finest and second finest tipple in the new edition of Jim Murray's Whisky Bible.
Its six-year-old Thomas Handy Sazerac rye whiskey amassed a record-equalling 97.5 points out of a hundred to be crowned World Whisky of the Year. Runner up was sister bourbon William Larue Weller.
It is the first time in the all ten editions of the Whisky Bible that both the World Whisky of the Year and the runner up have come from the same distillery.
Although Thomas Handy Rye is 64.3% alcohol by volume (128.6 proof) and the Weller at 66.75% abv (133.5 proof) Mr Murray suggests both whiskeys should be taken neat without ice and water and at body temperature to maximise the flavours and aromas.
The much more sedate Ballantine's 17 Year Old blended Scotch a former World Whisky of the Year was named both Scotch Whisky of the year and the world's third best.
Jim Murray tasted 1,350 new whiskies for the 10th edition of his Whisky Bible which was published today (8th Oct). In all the world's biggest-selling and most influential annual whisky guide having now sold over a third of a million copies gives details of 4,500 whiskies from around the world.
Said Mr Murray: "The quality of bourbon and rye from the US just keeps on getting better. This was a very tough call to make on which of the two deserved top billing. Although from the same distillery they are very different animals. The enormity of the Weller was so apparent that I used it as the unnamed whiskey photographed on the cover of The Bible
I knew from the very first taste that it stood every chance of being World Whisky of the Year.
"But it was eclipsed by the Thomas Handy rye, even though they both scored the same number of points. The Rye edged it, by the smallest of fractions, simply because of its extraordinary life and balance on the palate and its uncanny ability to just keep working on full alert for the longest imaginable time. It took a couple of days to decide between the two, but the Handy could not be denied."
Ardbeg Day was named Scotch Single Malt of the Year while Redbreast Aged 12 Years Cask Strength walked off with the Irish Whiskey of the Year Title.
To mark the 10th edition of Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, Mr Murray has for the first time included a step-by-step guide on how to taste whisky.
But in his hard-hitting Bible Thumping section he has also called upon the world's whisky distillers and the Scotch in particular to do more to rid the industry of sulphur treated sherry casks which he described as "a canker on the great and hallowed name of whisky" and "
a problem which more seriously damages the name of whisky than any other."
Mr Murray has called for a complete overhaul of the way blending labs around the world work. He says that because the ability to smell and taste sulphur depends on genetics it is likely that some blenders cannot spot flawed casks. So Mr Murray suggests that money should be set aside within the industry to both weed out sulphur-treated sherry butts and ensure that at least one member of a blending lab is capable of spotting the ruined casks.