Awards should always be taken with a grain of salt. Is the film that wins the Academy Award really the best picture of the year? Was Shakespeare in Love really better than Saving Private Ryan?
Although the most prestigious awards do lend some measure of objective credibility to the winners, ultimately it's still a subjective process. This is especially true when the decision makers (aka "the voters") are limited in number. And when the decider is just one person...Well, you'd better hope that his preferences are the same as yours.
That being said, awards can still be interesting and informative. Awards give us something to think, talk, and argue about. They can give us inspiration to seek out the winners, even if it's only to see if we agree or not. Awards give us a starting point to begin our investigation and discussion.
Just because something wins an award that doesn't mean it's the best. But if it's a reputable award, it does give us some indication that the subject in question is worthy of merit.
So, without further ado, the envelope, please!
Buffalo Trace Distillery has made history in the whiskey industry with not one, but two Whiskey of the Year Awards from esteemed whiskey reviewer Jim Murray. In the newly published 2013 Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible, the Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye was named “2013 World Whiskey of the Year” and the William Larue Weller was named “Second Finest Whiskey in the World.”
The coveted number one and two spots were the result of Jim Murray tasting over 4,500 whiskies, in route to publishing his annual Whisky Bible. It is the first time in the book’s ten year history that both the number one and two whiskies in the world have come from the United States, much less the same distillery.
About the Thomas H. Handy, Murray says, “This is enormous….Once off the ground it just doesn’t stop traveling. Superb!” A 97.5 (out of 100) rating.
The praise doesn’t stop there; for the second place William Larue Weller, Murray says, “WOW! This is becoming a must experience whiskey for hardcore bourbon lovers. Well, whisk(e)y lovers period, really! Majestic! Or, as it’s American, perhaps I should say: Presidential.” Also a 97.5 (out of 100) rating.
In regards to deciding between the first and second place, with both whiskies earning the same score, Murray says, “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…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.”
In addition to the number one and number two finest whiskies in the world, Buffalo Trace Distillery also earned an astounding 35 additional awards from Jim Murray, including Bourbon of the Year for its William Larue Weller; Rye of the Year for its Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Rye; Rye 11 Years or Older for its Sazerac 18 Years Old, and a host of Liquid Gold Awards, which are given only to those whiskies which score a “94” or higher, which is considered, “superstar whiskies that give us all a reason to live,” according to Jim Murray.
Amongst those whiskies from Buffalo Trace Distillery that received Liquid Gold Awards were George T. Stagg; Buffalo Trace Bourbon; Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Years Old; Old Weller Antique 107 and Single Oak Project Barrels 63, 14, 132, 33, 61, 164, 191, 81 and 167.
“We were blown away when we heard the results from Jim,” said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller, “To have one ‘Best Whiskey in the World’ is wonderful. To have the number one and the number two spots is just amazing; we’re very proud of our team here at Buffalo Trace.”
The 2013 Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible can be purchased at the Buffalo Trace Distillery gift shop, among other places, or online at www.whiskybible.com.