Australia’s malt whisky tasting champion for 2023

The Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship, hosted by The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, has crowned Ana Esteves as the Malt Whisky Tasting Champion of Australia.

Enthusiasts from all over Australia gathered in Sydney at the Art Gallery of NSW to compete – or spectate – in this massive tasting competition.

While normally a bi-yearly event, this is the first time the AMWTC has been held consecutively over two years since 2014, after a forced two-year hiatus due to COVID-19).

The competition blends skill and luck, with over 200 competitors seated within the halls of the gallery, all looking to prove their skills.

Competitors only had 30 minutes to assess eight whiskies in a blind-tasting format. Each competitor was provided with a list of nine possible whiskies — the eight on the table, plus one red herring. The task was to correctly identify and match the
whiskies on the table to the answer sheet. All of the whiskies are core range releases and are commercially available.

This year, competitors were thrown quite the curve ball with many of the whiskies being at least lightly peated in profile. On top of that, while the first place was clear, five competitors each scored 5/8, which led to three rounds of taste-offs for the first time in Champs history, with all four final taste-off competitors needing to complete an extra round to decide second
and third place.

First-time competitor Esteves took out the top spot with a score of 6/8, marking her as the 2023 Australian Malt Whisky Tasting champion (and the second female champion in AMWTC history).

Ana received a bottle of SMWS Cask No. 24.163 A Wizard’s Spell (a 31-year-old Vaults Collection bottling valued at $3,950), a one-year SMWS membership, and a $1000 voucher to The SMWS store, all donated by The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

The second prize was awarded to Archie Rose’s David Fisher — a $750 voucher to The Oak Barrel in Sydney.

The third prize was a bottle of Mithuna Single Malt Whisky courtesy of Paul John Whisky, which was awarded to Kyle Taylor.

Archie Rose said: “The Archie Rose Sensory Team (aka The Sniff Club), together with Master Distiller Dave Withers and a couple of other legendary Archie noses were on the starting block at the ever-awesome Whisky Champs on the weekend, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Australia 2023 Australian Malt Whisky Tasting at the Art Gallery of NSW.

“Big ups to David Fisher chief of the sensory pack, who nosed out 150 competitors to taste through a panel of eight whiskies and take second place – and an even bigger congrats to Australia’s 2023 Malt Whisky Tasting Champion, Ana Esteves, as well as 3rd place Kyle Taylor.”

When the competition was over, the celebrations began. Pop-up bars from Archie Rose, Benriach, and of course The Scotch Malt Whisky Society kept the crowd entertained as they soaked up the ambience of the decadent surroundings of The Art Gallery of NSW, helped along by upbeat jazz from the Casey Golden Trio.

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