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Asia Winter Tasting: The results

The first winter tasting by the drinks business Asia – designed to show off the very best products for the season – was a roaring success, with standout products coming from the world of wine and spirits, writes Alice Liang.

The inaugural edition of our Asian winter tasting was launched to unearth the most exciting drinks on the market over the winter period.

We judged samples from various categories, ranging from Champagne, still wine, vodka gin, rum, whisky and pre-mixed ready-to-drink expressions.

Starting with the wine category, Champagne Comtes De Dampierre Grand Vintage 2012 bagged a Master medal. Hugo Poon, head of sourcing and operations at Cork and Vine, said of its flavour: “Soft and dense mousse. Bright, almost sharp lemon zest, orange flesh; very pronounced autolytic notes. The generosity of the Pinot Noir takes time to come out, but it is certainly there. It has lovely backbone.” The typicity of the Champagne shown won over the hearts of the judges on the panel.

For still wine, Chilean winery Viña Las Veletas was a strong performer. Both El Salto Family Reserve Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon won Silver medals, as Cecilia Wong, Hong Kong wine and spirits TV host/critic/blogger, found the former was “quite easygoing, fruit, with generous notes of raspberry, red cherry, vanilla and spices; very balanced and welcoming”; while she thought the latter was a “classic Cab Sauv that gives everything the grape should offer with good structure in this price range (HK$100-HK$150).”

Moving on to the spirits section, another Master medal went to Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey. According to judge Kit Cheung, mixologist and founder of Perfume Tree Gin, the whiskey “offers the whole spectrum of elements. Everything is in a good concentrated balance of flavours, such as sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), dark chocolate, honey, dried fruit and smoky tobacco.” The Master Blend Edition and 1884 Premium Small Batch Whiskey from Uncle Nearest won Gold medals. As Poon said: “The two are of a similar profile,w ith the Blend Edition focusing on expressive flavours of intense oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate flavours; while the 1884 Premium Small Batch Whiskey, albeit less concentrated, shows good details with complex spice, liquorice and a rounded oily texture.”

Other Gold-medal winners in this category included Welsh distillery Penderyn Rick Oak Single Malt Whisky and Amaethon Single Malt Whisky from France.

As for other spirits, two Gold medallists in particular captured the judges’ attention. Brecon Botanicals Gin from Penderyn charmed the panel with its approachable and sweet profile. Wong said of it: “Fruity, intense but easy-drinking, with a hint of sweetness and candied elements.” Meanwhile, made from Jersey Royal potatoes from the British Channel Islands, Royal Mash Vintage Vodka charmed the judges’ palates with pleasantly creamy, marshmallowy flavours and lovely sweetness. “The body is medium and well structured,“ said Poon.

Premixed RTD cocktails are an increasingly important part of the drinks industry. New Zealand low-sugar drinks brand Pals tested the market with a range of six canned drinks, all of which received medals. The vodka-based Hawke’s Bay Lime and Soda and whiskey-based Hawke’s Bay Apple and Soda were recognised with Golds for their out-standing performances. Cheung was in awe: “Overall I think the product prices are really competitive. They are in general not too sweet, are refreshing and easy to serve as a long drink. The whiskey-based Apple and Soda has rather complex spices, and the alcohol is prominent. Compared with most canned RTDs, this brand offers great quality products.”

About the competition

With high-quality judges and a unique sampling process, The Winter Tasting Asia provides a chance for your wines and spirits to star, whether they hail from the great vineyards of Europe or lesser-known production areas of the world. The top expressions were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those expressions that stood out as being outstan­ding in their field received the ultimate accolade – a Master medal.

This report features the medal winners only. Please visit the Global Masters website for more information, or, to enter future competitions – giving you the chance to feature online and in print – please email Sophie Raichura at: or phone + 44 7772 019 932.

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