Yo, Scotland, Step Up Your Whiskey Game

by Ken Partridge

This has been kind of a rough year for Scotland.more

First, England's neighbor to the north lost its bid for independence, voting in September to remain a part of the United Kingdom. Then, on Monday, when Jim Murray released his annual list of the best whiskeys in the world, he handed the top prize to a Japanese single malt.

According to Murray, the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 is the finest whiskey on the planet. He rates it a 97.5 out of 100 and calls it a beverage of "near incredible genius," according to the Washington Post.

At least Scotland can take solace in taking runner-up or third place, right?

Wrong. For the first time since Murray began compiling these "Whiskey Bible" lists in 2003, there's not a single Scottish whiskey in the top five. Murray went so far as to call it a "wake-up call" to Scottish distilleries, which seems fair, since their poor performance in this year's poll is tantamount to America falling behind in hot dogs or Italy suddenly sucking at pasta.

Not that Yamazaki is some lucky upstart. The company was founded in 1923 and is now owned by Suntory, the world's third-largest distiller. Scotland may have been routed, but they were vanquished by seasoned pros.