IWSC sees spirits entries soar

The International Wine and Spirit Competitions’ 2011 Spirits results threw up some surprises following an increase in submissions across the board.

With products tasted completely blind, the competition saw grape brandies entered by a total of 19 countries.

Countries as diverse as England and China were awarded Silver medals, as well as some countries with a long but unheralded tradition of brandy distillation, such as Armenia and Bulgaria. Along with Italy, Australia and Canada picked up awards for grappa.

The gin category also saw some intriguing results, with Aldi’s own label Oliver Cromwell 1599 winning Gold Best in Class for the second year running and Welsh winner, Brecon Special Reserve Gin, also scooping Gold Best in Class.

An eclectic range of liqueurs were also entered, from liquorice to Vietnamese speciality sticky rice.

Worldwide whisky also lived up to its title, with eight countries gaining Gold: Scotland, Ireland, US, Japan, Canada, South Africa, Sweden and Taiwan.

Overall, there were 14 countries in total that picked up whisky medals including Australia, France, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, India and Wales.

David Kelly, IWSC marketing manager, said: “The growth in this year’s entry numbers and the international reach of products has been impressive.

“It’s now important to make sure that we equip all the winners with the marketing toolkits that they need to help them promote their award”.

Nielsen figures show that for 12 months to 1 July 2011 in the off-trade, overall spirits category sales remained flat but on a category level volume figures show flavoured vodkas were up 47%, golden rum up 39%, liqueurs up 11%. Blended Scotch was down 2% but imported whiskies were up 6% and malt whisky up 9%.

Medal winners and product trophy winners were announced on 27 July during a trade and press tasting. The event featured 200 of the top products entered into the 2011 competition.

Held in conjunction with the Worshipful Company of Distillers, the tasting saw the announcement of the shortlists for the International Spirits Trophies, which go forward for the coveted Distiller of the Year award sponsored by Suntory.

Discount retailers Lidl and Aldi notched up 29 medals between them for own-label spirits.

Following a blind tasting, Lidl scooped 13 medals and the top accolade – the IWSC Liqueur Trophy for its Liquore di Liquirizia, which was deemed a perfect cocktail spirit or one to add to Prosecco. The retailer also won Gold for its Queen Margot Scotch Whisky.

Aldi took home 15 medals including Gold (Best in Class) for its Oliver Cromwell 1599 Premium Gin.

Berry Bros & Rudd scooped Gold for its Glenrothes 1978 Vintage Single Malt Scotch. Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Waitrose all won Silver and Bronze medals for a range of spirits.

Kelly added: “The results clearly demonstrate that quality, award winning spirits can be purchased at a reasonable price and that the supermarkets choose good producers when selecting products for their range.”

Presentations of the awards will be made at the IWSC banquet on 16 November.

The full results can be found here: http://www.iwsc.net/results

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