Not only Scotch single malts but blended malt, Irish whiskey, rum and armagnac wow the judges in prestigious USC competition

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has picked up seven awards in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge (USC) competition for 2019, including two bottlings with a score of 96 that puts them in the highest category of ‘Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation’.

Cask No. 38.24: Princes Street Gardens in summer, a 26-year-old Speyside bottling, and the third batch of our blended malt Peat Faerie, were both awarded 96 points by the USC panel of judges led by spirits authority F. Paul Pacult.

The SMWS had three bottles in the category of ‘Excellent, Highly Recommended’: Cask No. R10.1: Carnival Concerto, a 25-year-old single cask rum, was awarded 94 points; Cask No. 12.22: 35 and still alive!, a 35-year-old Speysider, picked up 93 points; and the Irish whiskey Cask No. 51.15: Boiled sweets and cut flowers was awarded 92 points.

Rounding up the Society’s awards were Cask No. 66.138: Deep, rich and burnt fruit, a 20-year-old Highland whisky and Cask No. A5.1: Fruit shop raid, a 28-year-old armagnac, which both won 89 points.

The USC is one of the world’s most prestigious and progressive global spirits and cocktail competitions, which this year had 236 finalists. Each product is evaluated blind by panels in multi-stages assessments to remove any inherent or individual bias.

The USC awards follow the Society’s recent success in the San Francisco World Spirits Challenge.

“The year is off to a great start for the Society in international competitions, with awards not only for our fantastic single cask, single malt Scotch whiskies, but praise at the highest levels for our blended malt, Irish whiskey and bottlings from our Single Cask Spirits collection,” said SMWS spirits manager Kai Ivalo. “We strive to offer our members not only the best possible quality, but a variety of offerings that changes every month.”

The USC provided the following tasting notes for the Society’s award-winning bottlings:

Batch 03 Peat Faerie

“There’s no denying the muse of this spirit as the blistering brininess is present once the bottle is uncorked. This whisky is quite fresh and polite in contrast to the aroma, wrapping heather around an almost tropical fruit compote with just enough wood to give the delicacy structure and anchor the aroma in the finish.”

Cask No. 38.24: Princes Street Gardens in summer

“This Scotch pours a dazzling straw/gold in the glass with aromas of dried leaves, seabreeze, and honeycomb on the nose. Fresh biscuit meets coffee upfront on the palate before plantain and ginger come through, with a finish like a cinnamon dusted marshmallow.”

Cask No. R10.1: Carnival Concerto

“Buttery and creamy aromas also hold notes of banana cream pie and lightly salted caramel. In the mouth a touch of fruitiness plays with the toasted sugar notes and subtle pecan flavours that continue to perfume the palate.”

Cask No. 12.22: 35 and still alive!

“Golden berry and cereal grains create a gentle aromatic profile. Equally gentle spice on the palate creates a supple and elegant texture full of sweet wheat biscuits, hay, and sea salt flavours. Toasted pine nut notes linger pleasantly.”

Cask No. 51.15: Boiled sweets and cut flowers

“Within the tightly built structure of this whiskey are multiple layers of Irish single malt to uncover. From a milk chocolatey texture to a floral component where white pepper meets white blossoms. Even tropical fruits have a role to play here with the softness of a bit of pineapple peel dancing behind the golden grain and leading the finish out on a pleasing note.”

Cask No. 66.138: Deep, rich and burnt fruit

“Toasty aromas of crisp roasted onions and plums is tangy, sweet and savoury all at the same time. Decidedly smoky on the palate, flavours of campfire permeate the mouth followed by dark roasted hazelnuts and toasted walnuts, finishing with a hint of dark caramel.”

Cask No. A5.1: Fruit shop raid

“This is truly an ambitious brandy bottled at a heart-stopping proof, but so well integrated that instead of alcoholic burn a parade of dried fruits welcomes the taster. After digesting the initial raisin and prune character a mellow wave of milk chocolate whispers as an epilogue.”

For a complete list of winners, visit