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The Sassenach and Bruichladdich take top spots in Master of Malt whisky championship

Outlander star Sam Heughan’s award-winning whisky brand has taken the top spot in this years Master of Malt Brands & Bottlers final, whilst Bruichladdich has been crowned Distillery of the year.

Published: August 16, 2023

Since 2021, Master of Malt has hosted their annual Whisky Championship; a chance for everyone to show allegiance and celebrate their favourite drams from the whisky world through a series of heats.

This year, with almost unprecedented popularity (and some controversy) The Sassenach took the crown in the Brands & Bottlers category with over 76% of the votes, while Bruichladdich was announced the winner in the Distillery category with a mere 14 vote lead.

In the distillery bracket, 76,514 votes were cast, with 36,643 for the Brand and Bottlers; making up a colossal 113,157 votes in total (over 64,000 more than last year's competition).

Bruichladdich won the first ever Whisky Championships in 2021, and this year's final was between two previous winners (the runner-up being Bunnahabhain who took last year's title).

“The Master of Malt Whisky Championships is purely run on public vote,” explained Charlotte Gorzelak, social media manager at Master of Malt.

“We think the work that Bruichladdich has done on their package design (focusing on less glass and more sustainable materials) enabled them to clinch the victory.”

Launched in 2020 as part of Heughan's business, Great Glen Company, The Sassenach is a premium blended whisky that has won a array of awards, including Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Gold at the International Spirits Challenge.

Master of Malt Whisky Championship Sam Heughan scran
Picture: CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images

Heughan spoke to us via our Scran podcast, ahead of the whisky being made available in the UK in 2020. He also joined us more recently to chat about his newly released (and award winning) gin.

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Gordon and MacPhail took a notable Silver in the Brands & Bottlers bracket.

Some have not reacted well to to the news that the Outlander star’s liquid came in first place, with accusations that his fans mobilised and voted to ensure The Sassenach took the title.

But Gorzelak clarified this, saying; “We wanted to create a fair competition where we let real people choose who should be crowned their favourite that year.

"Throughout the competition, only votes from our followers and via our website have the power to either knock out or take the brands included to the next round.

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"It runs on a poll-based mechanic, which we feel is the fairest way when running things like this. No one can buy votes – at least, not from us.”

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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