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Spirited couple scoops IWSC title

For the first time in its 42-year history, the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) has awarded its coveted Communicator of the Year award to experts from the spirits industry.

American-born Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller, both experienced mixologists and the authors of more than 30 books on cocktails and spirits, won the title; beating off competition from some of the world’s leading wine experts.

The IWSC’s decision reflects consumers’ growing interest in the UK spirit sector, which has remained robust despite the downturn – 2010 saw  6% growth in value sales and 2% in volumes, according to Nielsen (July 2010).

IWSC competition director Frances Horder said: “The strength of the category bears out what producers are telling us: more people are drinking spirits at home and looking to premium cocktails when they’re out. We’re currently witnessing a huge rebirth in cocktails with consumers looking for guidance in all areas of mixology.”

Miller and Brown, the authors of award-winning titles including Shaken Not Stirred: A Celebration of the Martini and Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink, have a wealth of experience in the industry.

Miller said: “We are overwhelmed and absolutely delighted to have been awarded this honour. What’s happening in the cocktail industry and with mixology is so exciting at the moment – almost what wine was like 20 years ago, with consumers thirsty for knowledge.”

As well as being directors of Mixellany Ltd, and formerly of Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux, (overseeing the restoration of one of the world’s largest private collections of wine and spirits), the couple publishes the journal Mixologist: The Journal of the Cocktail.

The IWSC judges were also impressed by the pair’s practical knowledge. They are both veteran bartenders, and have earned numerous awards for their work in distilleries in the US and Europe.

Well-known in the industry, they were both on the tasting panel for Beefeater 24 and Brown is a master distiller of Sipsmith Gin, the first new licensed London distillery in nearly two centuries, and winner of the 2010 Observer Food Monthly Award for Best Newcomer.

IWSC marketing manager David Kelly said: “The recession has seen an increase in at-home drinking with consumers hoping to recreate on-trade experience with premium brands for friends. With their immense knowledge and obvious enthusiasm, Jared and Anistatia are superbly placed to spread the word that cocktails are bang on trend.”

The IWSC Communicator of the Year award recognises an individual or organisation which has made an exceptional contribution towards promoting and increasing public awareness and interest in wines and spirits, in the last 12 months.

It is the second time in the award’s history the award, sponsored by Veronafiere, has been awarded to a married couple – last year the title went to Susie Barrie MW and Peter Richards MW.

Brown and Miller join an impressive list of past winners including Jancis Robinson MW, Olly Smith, Andrew Jefford, Susy Atkins, Oz Clarke and Tim Atkin MW.

The 2011 Communicators we be formally introduced at this year’s Vinitaly exhibition when they will host a tasting on the topic entitled “Vermouth: the heart of a good cocktail”.

Click here to see an interview with Brown
at last year’s Fine Wine Fair.

Alan Lodge, 12.04.2011

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