Last year it won bronze medal, and this year Reference Series III.2 has been named the World’s Best Blended Malt at the World Whiskies Awards 2016. The Reference Series began with three blended malts, I, II and III. Each are made up of the same constituent parts, only in different quantities, with III containing over 50% incredibly well-aged single malts. The series then progressed with .1, .2 and .3 extensions for each of the three original whiskies, whereby the originals then became the ‘control’ whiskies for some fascinating and ongoing whisky experiments.
Reference Series III is created with a very high proportion (>50%) of incredibly well-aged single malts, making for a superb, incredibly complex blended malt in its own right. The .2 edition then adds ~10% heavily peated Islay whisky.
Reference Series asks questions such as “What would happen if you added some peated stock to an already excellent blend of Scotch malt whiskies?” The answer, it seems, is that you get the very best blended malt in the world! More than that, though, whisky fans are granted the opportunity to taste this whisky before (III) and after (III.2) the addition of the peated component and be confident that any difference is down to the addition of the peated single malt, rather than the underlying whisky or any other production difference.
The range’s ongoing experiments have also dealt with questions such as “What would happen if you changed the proportions of younger or older whiskies within a blended malt?” and “What would happen if you finished parts of those blended malts in fresh, first-fill 50 litre ex-Pedro Ximénez Sherry casks?”