A New Zealand single malt has been named among the world’s best by a top-selling international whisky guide.
English writer and journalist Jim Murray is believed to have visited more whisky distilleries than any other critic.
His Whisky Bible, updated yearly, includes more than 4500 tipples.
Few score 94 points or higher, so Murray has created a special symbol for the handful of whiskies that earn the status “Liquid Gold”.
Now, the New Zealand Whisky Company at Oamaru is raising a glass after its flagship 21-year-old South Island Single Malt scored at 95 points in the latest Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, placing it in the highly coveted category.
Murray declared it was “proof that the country in which a whisky is made is totally irrelevant. Great whisky is great whisky.”
It is the first time a New Zealand whisky has been anointed “Liquid Gold”.
Murray scores each dram out of 25 for nose, taste, finish and balance, totalling 100 points.
His influence on the whisky world is deemed as influential as critic Robert Parker’s is on the wine industry.
The Whisky Bible is in its 10th year, with 1100 more whiskies added for this edition.
The South Island Single Malt is aged for 21 years in American oak, ex-bourbon barrels. And Murray says it could be mistaken for “a 30 or even 35-year-old Speysider; almost a grassy maltiness melding into the light, exotic fruit and freshly chopped celery”.
He writes: “Clean, delicate and elegant beyond words. If someone asked me how I would like my 21-year-old non-peated malt to come to me, it would probably be something like this: a top of the range 40-year-old.”
The Kiwi whisky was produced at the Willowbank distillery in Dunedin, which ceased operation in 1997.
The New Zealand Whisky Company bought its stockpile in 2000 and has been aging it at its Oamaru maturation store ever since.
Chief executive Greg Ramsay was delighted with the review, describing it as a “salute to the craftsmanship of the Dunedin distillers”.
“Being recognised as one of the world’s great whiskies by Jim Murray, that’s the ultimate endorsement of your dram and all the Dunedin distillers like Cyril Yates can be proud that what they were doing in the 80s and 90s in New Zealand was every bit as good as what the Scots were doing over in Speyside and on Islay.”
The whisky is exported from Oamaru and is available across Europe, Britain, Canada, and Australia.