The Drammies: First ever acceptance dance

From the guys at

What can only loosely be described as a victory “dance”.

This is a total honour for us and something we really hadn’t expected in a million years; To be nominated was a total buzz, to win it is just unbelievable.
To show our appreciation, Joel and I made the following short acceptance speech. I hope you appreciate it!

And now…the winners of the 2008 Drammies

Some of the categories were VERY close. Some were landslides. And positions changed with each day’s votes tallied…But in the end the people have spoken and here are the winners of the 2008 Drammie Awards.

Glenmorangie (LVMH) should be very proud of their showing this year with five nominations resulting in three 1st place medals and one 3rd place. Followed by Bruichladdich with four nominations and four 2nd place finishes. And Edrington with four nominations and one 1st place and two 3rd place finishes.

Congratulations to ALL nominees!

One significant point of order on voting and how votes were counted.

We looked VERY closely at all of the votes – and anything that so much as hinted of impropriety was disregarded.

What was worthy of being disregarded?

  1. Suspicious Volumes from industry domains – I don’t want to create a misconception. Industry people were certainly allowed to vote in the awards – there are a lot of industry people who read this site. It was the volume of emails from single domains that created a problem for me. So floods of emails with similar votes from industry domains were disregarded. (Please Note: We had NO problem with this issue this year!)
  2. Single votes – There were some nominees who let their fans and friends know that they were up for an award. Nothing wrong with that – BUT all votes that came in which consisted of a single vote, for a single product in a single category were disregarded.
  3. Voting in a bloc – You certainly did not have to have an opinion on every category – most people did not. And as stated in #2 above, single votes were disregarded. But if someone submitted votes only in categories in which a single company’s products were nominated – and only voted for those products, the votes were disregarded.
  4. Uninformed votes – A couple of votes were disregarded for specific reasons. There was no ill intent in these votes, BUT when a statement was included that said (for example) “I haven’t tried any of these products, but like the idea of a “Coffee-flavoured malt”, then the vote was disregarded. You get the idea.

The Drammies were created to be, above all, a “People’s Choice” award and to try to disregard the influence that the industry has over the spirits writers and periodicals that generally grant the awards that get touted.

No fees here. Only nominations for the more interesting things out there, and awards for (hopefully) the most deserving products.

So without further ado, your winners…

Best Packaging/ Marketing Campaign

One of the closest races with Elements of Islay & Bruichladdich Octomore tying for 2nd place – and Glenmorangie Signet walking away with the prize.

WINNER Glenmorangie Signet 25.00%

2. Elements of Islay    22.92%
2. Bruichladdich Octomore    22.92%
3. Highland Park 40 YO    14.58%
4. Ardbeg Blasda    10.42%
5. Tuthilltown’s Hudson Bay    4.17%

Bang for the Buck

At around $100 US, the HP 18 isn’t exactly cheap – but enough of you think it’s worth a lot more.

WINNER Highland Park 18 yo 48.98%

2. Black Bottle    16.33%
3. Famous Grouse    10.20%
3. Balvenie Signature 12 yo    10.20%
3. Bulleit    10.20%
4. Rittenhouse 100    4.08%

Distiller/Blender/Independent Bottler of the Year

Ardbeg was once a distillery with a cult. It’s now getting the recognition it deserves. And with Big brother Glenmorangie taking 3rd place, the People at Glenmorangie should be very proud. And remember last year’s Glenmorangie “Brand Overhaul” got second place in the “Worst Marketing Campaign” category. Apparently that is long forgotten.

WINNER Ardbeg 30.00%

2. Bruichladdich    22.00%
3. Glenmorangie    14.00%
4. Compass Box    12.00%
4. Glenora    12.00%
5. Heaven Hill    6.00%
6. Stranahans    4.00%

Most Innovative New Product

Another win for the Glenmorangie Company – and the 2nd win for this particular label. It really is something special.

WINNER Glenmorangie Signet 34.88%

2. Octomore    20.93%
3. Elements of Islay    16.28%
4. Ardbeg Blasda    13.95%
5. Black Grouse    6.98%
5. BenRiach’s “Fumosus” range    6.98%

Best New Product (whisky)

Japanese whiskies taking over the world? Maybe not yet, but this Karuizawa has been racking up accolades from whisky lovers around the world.

WINNER Karuizawa 1971 34.21%

2. Octomore    23.68%
3. Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve    15.79%
4. Balvenie Signature    13.16%
4. Parker’s Heritage 27 Year Old    13.16%

Best New Product (Non-whisky i.e., book, resource, web site, etc)

Turns out I met Neil & Joel last year in London and had drinks with them & Sukhinder Singh. Small world, huh?

WINNER 34.78%

2. Malt Whisky Yearbook 2009    32.61%
3. Whiskipedia    17.39%
4. Goodness Nose by Richard Paterson    8.70%
5. Whisky Dream by Stuart Rivans    6.52%

Most under-rated-whisky

Clynelish speaks for itself. No wonder John Glaser uses it in so many of the Compass Box blends.

WINNER Clynelish 14 38.64%

2. Scapa 14    25.00%
3. Glengoyne 17    15.91%
4. Amrut    11.36%
5. Bulleit    9.09%

Worst Marketing Campaign

Despite Ken Grier’s excellent rationale for the Rankin campaign, our voters selected it, by a vast majority, as the worst campaign. Sorry guys.

WINNER” Macallan Rankin 60.53%

2. (rī)1 (Rye One) by Jim Beam    39.47%

The Drammies: Polls are Closed

The Polls are closed. The votes are being tabulated.

Winners will be announced Monday, March 9th…

The Drammies: Voting Closes Soon

Just back from a short but much needed holiday in the Cayman Islands (Happy Birthday, Stephanie) to a virtual stack of votes.

Remember the voting closes THIS Friday (March 6th) and results will be announced soon afterward.

Also, apparently there’s a brief bio of yours truly in Whisky Magazine #78 – haven’t seen it yet.

A perspective from Ken Grier, Director of Malts, The Edrington Group

You probably don’t realize how much grief “The Drammies” has caused me over the years…especially those pesky negative categories…

But I think that the industry deserves to feel the agony of defeat along with the thrill of victory.

To make it clear, the nominees are picked based on the volume of nominations and the subsequent winners (or losers as the case may be) are selected by volume of votes.

And, while The Scotch Blog is not a forum to lobby for votes, I do feel that I have an obligation to allow a forum for additional information and alternative views.

To that end, Ken Grier, Director of The Macallan, and I had a great call the other day – and I invited him to offer up some information on the Rankin project…

Whether you agree that the Rankin campaign was a brilliant idea or not, I truly believe that it’s important to understand the intent and thoughts behind the concept.

Without further ado…Take it away, Ken…

A perspective from Ken Grier, Director of Malts, The Edrington Group

I was interested to see that The Masters of Photography bottling had been nominated for a Drammie for Worst Marketing Campaign of 2008.  I would like to make my views known as to why I believe that it should in fact have been nominated for Best marketing campaign, and not the worst.

So everyone is clear on what we are doing with the concept and what they get for their money I would like to make the following points:

We operate with the highest integrity at The Macallan.  We would simply not put a new label on an existing whisky and sell it a higher price.

Each bottle is in fact a unique work of art and the price reflects this.  What you are purchasing is an original Rankin Polaroid image, unique to this pack together with a one off bottle label to match and signed certificate of authenticity from Rankin.  No one of these products is like another.  The photography here is wide ranging and comes from an array of images which not only contrast artistic nude studies of the model Tuuli with the distillery surroundings, but also photos of the distillery workers and still life and landscape studies.

At the projects inception our intention was that the product should be great value as we were offering an original Rankin Polaroid (these currently sell for up to $1000 each) as part of the pack.  This is your chance to enjoy Fine Oak 30 years old and own an original work of art at a very small premium if any.

Fluctuations in the exchange rate have obviously had an impact on the price equation but none the less it still represents extraordinarily good value for an original work of art from a world renowned photographer.

We deliberately set out to make this concept as accessible as possible for purchase by our consumers we believe that we have succeeded. The evidence to support this is that 62 of our own staff, ranging from Directors to workers in the bottling hall have bought one. This has been a higher staff take up than any other new product launch in our history.

Irrespective of whether or not you love it or hate it as an idea, I passionately believe that The Masters of Photography bottling has had a positive effect on Scotch Whisky.  In order to attract new drinkers and grow the category it is not just good enough to produce great quality whisky, you need to produce innovative new products that appeal to a new audience.  These need to enthral existing users and beguile new drinkers.

In addition I think it is all important that if you are assessing the effectiveness of a marketing campaign that you look at its performance versus its original objectives.

Our intent here is both to generate publicity for the brand and to recruit new younger and more stylish drinkers into The Macallan ‘club’ alongside our much valued and loyal drinkers.

We have facts to show that we have exceeded our objectives in all cases.  Firstly we have generated media value of almost $2 million of publicity in just three months of its launch in art, fashion and news press.

Secondly in our four launches and exhibitions to date in the UK, Russia, Greece and the USA, we have exposed the brand to over 1500 key opinion formers and affluent consumers who attended the launch events.  They may not otherwise have entered our world of single malt whiskies.

Thirdly, I have had over 300 personal expressions of praise and delight from press, trade and drinkers who adore the concept with only 5 negative comments to date, including this nomination. 

Finally we have left a rich photographic legacy which encompasses one summer in the life of The Macallan for those who follow us to cherish as they ensure that this wonderful brand continues to receive the acclaim it deserves.

We at Macallan are very proud of our innovative track record.  The Fine Oak range, the Fine & Rare collection and our partnership with Lalique to create our Six Pillars range of decanters are all examples of innovative new products we have brought to market. We will continue to plough this sometimes lonely furrow to the benefit of The Macallan brand and the Single Malt category for years to come.

One of the great things about blogs is that they allow freedom of speech and the right of reply.  Thank you for allowing me to exercise these rights and put forward my point of view.

Announcing the nominees for the 2008 Drammie Awards

Let the voting begin.

  • Please vote for Only one nominee in each category.
  • Keep It clean
  • Voting Goes through March 6th 2009
  • Winners will announced soon afterward…

All of the italicized comments are taken from nomination submissions. None of them are my editorials…

Submit votes to drammies at thescotchblog dot com.

Best Packaging/ Marketing Campaign


•    Glenmorangie Signet
Absolutely LOVE the Glenmorangie SIGNET packaging

•    Elements of Islay

•    Ardbeg Blasda
The bottle is a departure from the traditional Ardbeg, but so is the whisky it contains.  The “A” being visible through the bottle is a nice touch.

•    Tuthilltown’s Hudson Bay
I love the stout little bottles, never mind that they’re half the whiskey you get in a normal bottle

•    Bruichladdich Octomore

•    Highland Park 40 YO
Beautifully crafted and reflecting the authenticity and style of the brand

Bang for the Buck


•    Highland Park 18 yo

•    Balvenie Signature 12 yo

•    Rittenhouse 100

•    Famous Grouse

•    Bulleit Bourbon

•    Black Bottle

Distiller/Blender/Independent Bottler of the Year


•    Glenmorangie
Dr. Bill Lumsden and the Glenmorangie folk who have not paused for reflection for a nanosecond, creation after innovative creation. Fearless in the face of whisky whining on plenty of online forums and real world fests.

•    Glenora
Glenora Distillery in Nova Scotia. From their David vs Goliath fight with the SWS, to Glen Breton Ice

•    Compass Box
Consistently innovative.

•    Heaven Hill
They’ve raised the bar on aged American whiskey with the 27 year old Parker’s Heritage and 21 and 23 year old Rittenhouse Ryes.

•    Stranahans

•    Bruichladdich
Seems boring. But still these guys just keep on going. So many new interesting products last year.

•    Ardbeg
I have misgivings about the number of bottles, availability etc. – but 3 new, innovative releases (Corry, Blasda, Rennaissance)  all at acceptable prices – an improvement on last year with the Mor thing.

Most Innovative New Product


•    Elements of Islay

•    Glenmorangie Signet
In the world of Scotch whisky, there is simply nothing to compare this whisky to. Innovative and interesting.

•    BenRiach’s “Fumosus” range
Even if the names suggest that the Walker clan have been reading too much Harry Potter, they’re doing wonderful things with their peated Speysides.

•    Ardbeg Blasda

•    Octomore

•    Black Grouse
A nice twist on an all time favorite.

Best New Product (whisky)


•    Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

•    Karuizawa 1971
Wow! Not just great Japanese whisky – but great whisky!

•    Octomore

•    Balvenie Signature

•    Parker’s Heritage 27 Year Old
It redefined my concept of bourbon

Best New Product (Non-whisky i.e., book, resource, web site, etc)


•    Whiskipedia

•    Malt Whisky Yearbook 2009

A great blog with a refreshingly youthful, independent outlook.

•    Whisky Dream by Stuart Rivans

•    Goodness Nose by Richard Paterson

Most under-rated-whisky


•    Bulleit Bourbon

•    Clynelish 14

•    Scapa 14

•    Amrut

•    Glengoyne 17

Worst Marketing Campaign


•    Macallan Rankin
Putting the price of a bottle of Fine Oak 30yo up by £500 just because it might have a nudie picture on it is an outrage.

•    (rī)1 (Rye One) by Jim Beam
Obnoxious on every front.  Ridiculous name and ad copy in a club-ready bottle at an inflated price.

2008 Drammie nominations are forthcoming.

Stay Tuned

The 2008 Drammies: Categories & Call for Nominations

It’s time for the most coveted awards in the Whisky World – The Drammies.
Think of it as a People’s Choice award – as YOU the whisky loving public choose the nominees as well as the winners.

We’ve started a little later than usual…but that’s allowed us to get a full year of Whisky products in.

Once again, we are NOT limiting nominees to Scotch Whisky…but Any And All Whiskies are fair game.

Rules for submitting nominations

1. You are allowed to offer multiple nominees for each category, but you must rate them from highest to lowest.
2. When submitting nominees, you may also supply a reason for the nomination. We reserve the right to reprint these nomination reasons.
3. PLEASE NOTE That we’ll also be taking nominations in all of the categories for NON-SCOTCH whiskies. That’s right, The Drammies are “World Whisky”.
4. Please include your name and country where you live in the email. Anonymous submissions will be disregarded.
5. Work in the industry? You are invited to submit nominations as well. PLEASE don’t just submit ONLY your company’s products.
6. Submissions from PR firms will generally be ignored.
7. The nomination period goes through February 1. Shortly after that the nominees for each category will be announced and the voting will begin.
8. Nominees should be EMAILED to kevin at thescotchblog dot com.
9. Nominations in the comments section WILL BE DISREGARDED.

Best Packaging/ Marketing Campaign
Marketing counts. This packaging is sure to make someone pick it up. Ad, viral video, commercial, packaging, publicity stunt. Whatever it was it was the best.

Bang for the Buck
You simply can’t beat this whisky at this price. You’d probably buy it if it cost more, but for now you’ll just load up on it.

Distiller/Blender/Independent Bottler of the Year
Over all this distiller/blender did the best job this year. New Products, moving the industry forward, whatever criteria you choose, these guys are in the forefront.

Most Innovative New Product
Was there anything NEW this year that just put everyone else to shame? Someone who moved the bar, tried something different.

Best New Product (whisky)
The category says it all. This product was introduced (or reached your market) in 2008. And it was simply the best new thing out there.

Best New Product (Non-whisky i.e., book, resource, web site, etc)

You couldn’t drink it, but you could read it, view it, use it. This product was introduced (or reached your market) in 2008. And it was simply the best new thing out there.

Most under-rated-whisky
This one doesn’t get any respect. People don’t know about it OR it’s just a lot better than people give it credit for.

Worst Marketing Campaign
Ad, viral video, commercial, packaging, publicity stunt. Whatever it was it was the worst.

So…Have at it.

For now we’ll leave the Nominees and winners from the 2007 Awards up at for your review.

Merry Christmas! Coming soon…The 3rd Annual Drammies.

Last minute surgery put a premature end to 2008’s 12 days of Scotchmas – As well as some other things in the works. But it allowed us some time to get geared up for the 2008 Drammies.

Thanks to all the well-wishers during my recovery.
And look out for the Drammie categories, and call for nominees soon.

Acceptance Speeches

"We are chuffed to bits!  This means more to us than any of the other industry bollocks. Great showing from Islay and the independents too. And I would like to thank our  customers, followers, shareholders, bank manager etc. etc."
Mark Reynier

Bruichladdich – Distiller/Blender/Independent Bottler of the Year

Thank you!  We are absolutely delighted with the award!
We only have enough to last till the close of 2009 so I recommend everyone stocks up on it as I am doing!
Davinia Small
Ardbeg –
Best New Product (whisky) (Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist)

"That is really terrific and I am really surprised that our Glasgow amnesty reached across the pond.
I will pass on the news to the team who will be delighted."
Jason Craig
Highland Park – Best Packaging/ Marketing Campaign

Cheers Kevin, keep up all the good work, and thanks to Everyone who voted for Glenfarclas all the support is much appreciated.
Bring on the 2008 Drammies!!!

George Grant
Glenfarclas – Most under-rated-whisky

This is great news!  Thanks very much
John Glaser
Compass Box – Most Innovative New Product (Canto Series)