Kentucky Knocks Scotland Off as 'Best' Whiskey Producer

Image: Kentucky Knocks Scotland Off as 'Best' Whiskey Producer

Friday, 20 Dec 2013 12:13 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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A Kentucky bourbon distillery is toasting a new report from a whiskey expert who has named it as the best whiskey producer in the world, knocking Scotland off a perch that it's held for centuries.

Author Jim Murray claims that Scotch malt whiskey has been overshadowed by "vastly improved" American brands, especially from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, partially due to contamination in the casks used in Scotland, according to the Daily Telegraph in Britain.

"Everyone automatically thinks that the best whiskey is made in Scotland, but there are too many bad casks rattling around," said the author of the best-selling Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.

"Generally speaking, bourbon has overtaken Scotch. The best whisky is coming not from Scotland any more, but from Kentucky."

Murray added that Buffalo Trace is "arguably the best distillery in the world," while claiming that the quality of Scotch has been negatively affected by the use of sulfur candles to sanitize some barrels that used to hold sherry. He alleged that this can give the whisky a "bitter finish".

He also pointed out that another reason for the decline in Scotch quality is the addition of caramel, a coloring agent.

On the other hand, he says bourbon is matured in virgin oak casks that don't need sulfur treatments. The whiskey industry in the U.S. is also prohibited from using caramel.

Rosemary Gallagher, spokeswoman for the Scotch Whisky Association, debunks Murray's criticism, which she says is really motivated by his own personal preference.

"Caramel and sulfur sticks do not damage the whiskey," she said. "This is really about Jim Murray’s personal taste.”

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