The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) has revealed its spirits winners for 2017, lifting the lid on the key trends shaping what the world will be drinking in the year ahead.
No-age whiskies are challenging Scotch traditions, mezcal has taken its rightful place next to tequila, the gin category has seen an entry increase of nearly 600% in just two years, and Asia’s spirits have exploded on to the world stage, according to the IWSC.
The world of whisky has expanded far beyond the traditional Scotches and blends associated with the category; this year’s IWSC results have debunked the myth of ‘the older the better’, with a range of no-age statement whiskies taking the sector by storm.
The trophy this year for no-age statement Single Malt went to The Dalmore Valour Single Highland Malt, described as having a rich, chocolatey elixir with warm orange and cinnamon aromas.
2017 also saw the ‘Tequila Trophy’ being renamed to the ‘Mezcal Trophy’, reflecting the changing appreciation of agave spirits and the quality of the liquids being produced. The top prize was awarded to the Corte Vetusto Mezcal Espadin, handcrafted by fourth-generation master mezcalero, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Diaz.
This year, the IWSC received nearly 400 gin entries from 35 different countries – a massive 571% increase from 2013 – that proves consumer loyalty to the category has yet to wane, and gin’s continued dominance of the aperitif scene.
Asia’s spirits market is also thriving like never before, with plenty to offer western palates. China’s Baiju, made from the fermented grain sorghum, has well and truly arrived on the world stage. The Baiju Trophy was won this year by the Yushan Taiwan Kaoliang Liquor.
Now in its 48th year, 2017 saw a record number of entries into the IWSC from more than 81 countries across the globe.
In addition to revealing these four key trends, this year’s competition heralded the arrival of a multitude of lesser-known yet bold newcomers to the spirits premier league.
For the IWSC 2017 Spirit Trophy Winners, see below – a full list of medalists can be found on the IWSC website.
- Vodka Trophy – Purity Vodka 51 Limited Reserve, Purity Vodka AB
- London Dry Gin Trophy – Swedish Rose Gin, Hernö that boutique-y Gin Company, Atom Brands
- Contemporary Gin Trophy – Ableforth’s Bathtub Gin Navy Strength, Atom Brands
- Fruit Spirits Trophy – Lörch Hocharomatischer Waldhimbeergeist, Bimmerle KG
- Pomace Brandy Trophy – Grappa Le Giare Gewürztraminer, Distilleria Marzadro
- Baiju Trophy – Chinese Spirits Baiju Yushan Tawiwan Kaoliang Liquor Aged 5 years, AOW
- Shochu Trophy – Shasharakuraku Aka, Nishi Sake Brewing Co.
- Mezcal Trophy – Corte Vetusto Mezcal Espadin, Corte Vetusto
- Cognac Trophy – Cognac Roullet VSOP Grande Champagne, SAS Maison de Negoce Charentaise
- Rum Trophy – Rhum Agricole Vieux Neisson 12 ans d’âge, Distillerie Neisson
- Bourbon Trophy – Big House Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Sazerac Company
- Liqueur Trophy – Mozart Chocolate Cream, Schlumberger Wein-und Sektkellerei GMBH
- Worldwide Brandy Trophy – KWV 15 Potstill Brandy, KWV
- Blended Scotch Whisky Trophy – Syndicate 58/6 12 YO Blended Scotch Whisky, Syndicate 58/6 Ltd
- Single Malt Scotch Whisky no age statement Trophy – The Dalmore Valour Single Highland Malt, Whyte & Mackay Ltd
- Single Malt Scotch Whisky 15 years and under Trophy – The Balvenie 14YO Caribbean Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky, William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd
- Single Malt Scotch Whisky over 15 years Trophy – Glenglassaugh Highland Scotch Whisky 40YO, The BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd
- Single Malt Scotch Whisky Cask Strength Trophy – Bunnahabhain 18YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Distell
- Worldwide Whiskey Trophy – Kavalan Solist ex-Bourbon Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky, Kavalan Distillery
- Aquavit Trophy – Gylden Akvavit, Pabst & Richarz Vertriebs GmbH