International Whisky Competition

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The International Whisky Competition is an event that takes place annually in Chicago in which whiskies are blind tasted and rated by a professional tasting panel. The results are used to produce tasting notes for an International Whisky Guide.[1]


The International Whisky Competition[2] was founded in 2009 by Sylvain Allard and Michael Petrucci. In 2016 the results began being used to produce an International Whisky Guide.


There are up to 60 categories depending on the whisky type, with gold, silver, and bronze awards for each. Whiskies are sampled individually and judges are given 5 minutes to blind taste, judge, and score each whisky. A 100 point scoring system is used which was adapted from the wine industry. The rating system uses the following four criteria:[3]

  • Sight
    • Colors (0 points)
    • Visual appeal (5 points)
  • Nose
    • Intensity and complexity (15 points)
    • Distinctiveness of aromas (10 points)
    • Balance of aromas (10 points)
  • Taste-Mouth Feel
    • Palate and balance (10 points)
    • Alcohol, body and complexity (10 points)
    • Distinctiveness of flavors (10 points)
    • Balance between flavors (10 points)
  • Finish
    • Length and finish (10 points)
    • Quality of finish (10 points)

Awards given in the competition[edit]

  • Whisky of the Year
  • Master Distiller/Blender of the Year
  • Distillery of the Year
  • Best Blended Whisky (All Categories)
  • Best New Release
  • Best Single Malt Whisk(e)y
  • Best Rye Whiskey
  • Best World Whisk(e)y
  • Best Peated Whisk(e)y
  • Best Grain Whisk(e)y
  • Best Value Whisk(e)y (for whiskies under $30)
  • Brand Ambassador of the Year
  • Blogger of the Year
  • Best Flavored Whisk(e)y
  • 8 Country and continent awards
  • 15 Scotch whisky awards
  • 4 Irish whiskey awards
  • 19 United States whiskey awards

The complete list can be seen on the competition website.[4]


The present panel consists of ten experts.[5] In 2014, Michael Petrucci stepped down from the competition, and in 2015 Sebastien Gavillet took over as head of the tasting panel, restructuring the competition and implemented a new tasting methodology. Starting in 2016, entry samples began being archived for referencing.[6]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "New International Whisky Guide 2016 Will Change The Way You See Whiskey". WTHR Indiana News Leader. Retrieved March 3, 2016
  2. ^
  3. ^ "These 30 whiskeys just took gold at an international spirits competition". Portia Crowe, Business Insider UK. Retrieved May 7, 2015
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Looking behind the International Whiskey judging curtain". Whiskey Wash. June 6 2016. Retrieved March 1 2017