18-year-old Sazerac Rye is the world's finest whisky

The 18-year-old Sazerac Rye from Kentucky has been named the finest dram in the world, according to the 2010 edition of the definitive Whisky Bible.

Rye whiskies - a favourite during the Wild West era - were nearly killed off when Prohibition turned America onto cheaper and milder bourbons.

But the amber chestnut Sazerac has proven that they are back, reportedly beating 3,850 other whiskies and setting a new worldwide standard for rye whisky.

From the Buffalo Trace distillery, the Sazerac - celebrated for its oak, leather and molasses overtones with hints of mint and eucalyptus - is described as "reaching previously unknown heights," by Whisky Bible author Jim Murray.

Second place went to the Ardbeg Supernova, from the Hebridean island of Islay - the 'smokiest dram ever made,' according to some - which has dominated the award for the past three years.

Third place went to a newcomer whisky from Bangalore, Amrut Fusion, scoring 97 out of 100.

Murray's conclusions show that Scotland is no longer the de facto source for the finest whiskies, and his review of the "mystically complex" Amrut acknowledges India as a major whisky manufacturer.

Some sections of the Scottish whisky industry need to raise their game, Mr Murray told UK newspaper the Independent.

"There is still a sneering attitude in some quarters that, if it is not made in Scotland, then somehow it is not proper whisky," he said.

"I don't think the Scottish have a lot to be complacent about at the moment... While the best is still exceptional, there is a lot of Scottish whisky out there which is really not good at all."

Mr Murray hopes that the arrival of pre-eminent Indian whiskey will act as a wake-up call for the Scotch whisky distilleries.

Asia's reputation for whisky manufacturing continues to grow. Last year, the Japanese malt Yoichi was named the best in the world by Whisky Magazine.

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