While spirit connoisseurs have been excited in recent times by the tequila revolution, something far more exquisite has been sweeping the awards at the recent International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).
Arguably the biggest news to emerge from the IWSC was that a mezcal, not a tequila, had taken top honours in the agave category – a competition first. And a new-comer at that. Translated as ‘ancient cut’, Corte Vetusto is a range of single-origin, artisanal mezcals, respectfully hand-crafted in small batches from mature agave. By deliberately emphasising the agave flavours and ensuring the light mesquite smoke enhances the taste rather than dominating, the range is set to challenge consumer perceptions of mezcal and position the brand as a genuine sipping alternative to some of the world’s great spirits.
Making such an impact at launch has not gone unnoticed by some of the UK’s most discerning buyers. The premium Corte Vetusto mezcals now grace the shelves of Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, along with high-end establishments such as Nobu and Milk & Honey as well as on-trend Mexican venues – Breddos Tacos and Santo Remedio.
About the range:
– Created from cultivated agave with a hint of wild agave to give it a distinct aroma and taste
– Double distilled in a 250L copper pot still
– Crisp, bright, agave-forward mezcal
– IWSC 2017 Gold Outstanding & Mezcal Trophy winner
– Created from wild agave
– First distillation in a 250L copper pot still
– Second distillation in a 70L ancestral clay pot still
– The unique combination of copper and clay distillation delivers a mezcal of unrivalled sophistication and complexity
– Created from a blend of wild agave.
– Limited-edition, each batch will comprise a different blend
– First distillation in a 250L copper pot still
– Second distillation in a 70L ancestral clay pot still
– The unique combination of copper and clay distillation delivers a mezcal of unrivalled sophistication and complexity
With a premium artisanal product comes a dedicated handmade production process. With no scientific process to rely on, Corte Vetusto is created in Oaxaca, Mexico, according to time-honoured traditions by 4th generation ‘Master Mezcalero’, Juan Carlos Gonzalez Diaz. A watchful eye is required to create a cut of mezcal that passes his strict criteria. From harvesting, cooking and milling the agave to fermenting and distilling the liquid, this authentically craft spirit takes over a month to make each batch and is a real labour of love.
Corte Vetusto is the first brand created by passionate marketer David Shepherd. David’s vision is to develop a portfolio of spirits made by true artisans, who have dedicated themselves to respectfully upholding the traditions and values associated with these spirits.
Born in Singapore to British parents, David’s childhood saw him grow up in Mexico City and Cape Town before venturing off to Scotland for University and then settling in London in 2005. With such a passion for Mexico and its heritage, David was captivated by mezcal’s breadth of flavour, cultural significance and devotion to traditional production methods. Taking just 20 months to bring to market, with no previous drinks industry experience, the launch of Corte Vetusto is already an incredible achievement, watch this space – mezcal is officially on the map.
The International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) announce the Spirit results of the 2016 Competition, revealing a record year for entries into the Competition, with a 17% increase in entries, lead by the Scotch, Worldwide Whiskey and Gin categories.
The top 200 winners of the Spirits Competition will be showcased at the annual Spirits Tasting event, taking place July 27th, which is co-hosted by the IWSC and the Worshipful Company of Distillers at London’s Vintners Hall and follows months of rigorous evaluation by their esteemed panel of expert judges.
Truly international in its reach, the Competition welcomes Spirits entrants from 60 different countries across the world. This year once again, Scotland swept the board, winning five trophies and 427 medals, as well as taking home 73 of the Gold and Gold Outstanding accolades. Gold medal winners included Waitrose’s 16-Year-Old Highlands Scotch Whisky, Hankey Bannister’s Heritage Blend, The Blended Whisky Company’s The Golden Age Blend as well The Balvenie Thirty. As the category continues to innovate with travel retail exclusives and cask finishes, the Competition saw an entry increase of 10% from 2015 with an 88% entry increase over the past three years.
Whisk(e)y and gin emerge as this year’s category leaders, with 200% more entries into the gin category since 2013 and a 35% uplift year on year for the worldwide whiskey category. This year’s Competition featured entries from Myanmar, India and Taiwan; who’s Kavalan Distillery was awarded three Gold medals as well as a Gold Outstanding for its Kavalan Solist Port Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky. In the Gin tasting, Cumbria’s Bedrock Gin produced by Spirits of the Lakes achieved a coveted Gold medal. Other significant growth areas in the competition since 2013 were Shochu, with a 300% growth, Rum with 83% growth and 44% growth for the liqueur category.
Launched in 2015, this year saw the return of the Gin & Tonic and Bloody Mary categories, and the addition of the Vodka & Tonic category in partnership with Fever Tree. Vodrock, last year’s Bloody Mary Trophy winners, picked up the inaugural Vodka & Tonic trophy with Herno Export Strength Gin securing the Gin & Tonic trophy and Swiss Vodka Inc’s Elation Hemp Flavoured Vodka awarded the Bloody Mary Trophy.
Ewan Lacey, IWSC Managing Director, commented on today’s results; “The significant growth of new entries over the last few years are testament to the continuing advancement and innovation of our entrants. An increase of 200% in Gin entries since 2013 reflects the boom in the category worldwide and we are delighted that producers continue to choose the IWSC to benchmark and promote their products.”
2016 Spirit Trophy winners: · Cognac Trophy – Richelieu XO, Distell Ltd · Fruit Spirits Trophy supported by Arthur Nagele – Macardo Vielle Prune, Macardo Destillerie · London Dry Gin Trophy sponsored by the Gin Guild – Star of Bombay, Bacardi Global Brands Inc. · Contemporary Style Gin Trophy sponsored by the Gin Guild – Purity Gin, Purity Vodka AB · Pomace Brandy Trophy – Sibona Grappa Riserva affinata in Botti da Porto, Distilleria Sibona S.p.A · Worldwide Brandy Trophy sponsored by Distell – Van Ryn’s 12-Year-Old Distiller’s Reserve, Distell · Liqueur Trophy – Tea Liqueur Jossie Earl Grey, S.A.E.G.B · Rum Trophy – Foursquare 2006, R L Seale & Company Limited · Sake Trophy – Junmai Daiginjo Aonomu “Blue Label”, Yaegaki Sake & Spirits Inc. · Shochu/Soju Trophy – Shochu iichiko SPECIAL, Sanwa Shurui Co., Ltd. · Tequila Trophy supported by The Spirits of Mexico Festival – Tequila El Tesoro Anejo Tequila, Beam Suntory · Vodka Trophy – Count Pushkin Vodka, Distell Ltd · Bourbon Trophy – Jim Beam® Black, Beam Suntory · Worldwide Whiskey Trophy supported by Whiskies of the World – Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, Beam Suntory · Scotch Whisky Trophy (Single Malt Scotch Whisky over 15 Years) – Balblair Vintage 1990, International Beverage · Scotch Whisky Trophy (Single Malt Scotch Whisky No Age Statement) – Kilchoman Sanaig Kilchoman, Distillery Co Ltd · Scotch Whisky Trophy (Single Malt Scotch Whisky 15 Years and Under) – The Balvenie DoubleWood 12-Year-Old, William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd · Scotch Whisky Trophy (Cask Strength Scotch Whisky) sponsored by Whyte & Mackay- Aberlour A’bunadh, Chivas Brothers · Scotch Whisky Trophy (The Independence Trophy for Blended Scotch Whisky) sponsored by William Grant & Sons – The Golden Age Blend, ATOM Supplies Ltd · Bloody Mary Trophy – Swiss Vodka, Inc. Elation Hemp Flavored Vodka · Gin & Tonic Trophy supported by Fever Tree – Hernö Gin AB, Hernö Export Strength Gin · Vodka & Tonic Trophy supported by Fever Tree – Vodrock, UG VODROCK · Best Packaging Design Range of the Year – (Archie Rose Original Vodka, Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin, Archie Rose White Rye), Archie Rose Distilling Co. · Best Gin Packaging of the Year – Dorset Dry Gin, Conker Spirit · Best Vodka Packaging of the Year – Stateside Urbancraft Vodka, Federal Distilling
Drinks experts from around the world who judge for the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), have shared their top recommendations for everyday food and wine pairings. Highlights include partnering your fish and chips with a glass of champagne for the ultimate ‘Fizz & Chips’ (although, all of the experts agreed that whilst enjoying a full English breakfast it was better to keep it traditional, with a cup of tea.)
Sausage and Mash – A full bodied red wine like Côtes du Rhône from France or an Australian Shiraz
Fish & Chips – The acidity of the champagne helps cut through the fried food
Full English – To get the most flavour out of your meal, our experts suggest a nice cup of tea!
Chinese Takeaway – A fresh, crisp Pinot Grigio works well with sweet and spicy food
Pepperoni Pizza – Stick to Italian wine such as Chianti when eating the country’s delicacy
Indian Curry – The spicier the curry the sweeter the wine so try an aged Riesling or Alsace Gewürztraminer
The judges also revealed top pairings for the festive season, with the IWSC suggesting award-winning wines that are available from the local supermarket:
Roast turkey with all the trimmings – Asda Extra Special El Meson Rioja Gran Reserva 2004
Poached whole salmon – Xanadu Next of Kin Chardonnay 2011
Christmas pudding – Sainsbury’s Winemakers Selection Muscat Saint Jean de Minervois NV
Chocolate dessert – Tesco Finest* 10 YO Tawny Port
Roast goose – Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir 2012
Nut roast – Marks & Spencer Manzanilla Sherry
With many consumers sticking to the well-known wines because they feel overwhelmed when facing the drinks aisle, the experts have suggested similar wine and grape varieties to help consumers discover new tipples:
If you like Sauvignon Blanc then try Pouilly Fumé
If you like Rioja then try Chianti
If you like Zinfandel then try Primitivo
If you like Barolo then try Nebbiolo
If you like Chardonnay then try Chablis
If you like Gewürztraminer try Viognier
If you like Merlot try Grenache
The judges also gave their drink predictions for 2015, highlights included;
India being flagged as ‘the country to watch’ for producing interesting spirits
Turkey and China ‘ones to watch’ for producing interesting wines
Flavoured whisky set to be a big trend next year with the younger generation
A rise in celebrities launching wines and spirits
General Manager, Ewan Lacey commented, “For most, one of the biggest dilemmas of the festive season is choosing the wine for Christmas lunch. The IWSC works with the world’s best drink experts and we wanted to share some of their top tips for buying wine and spirits.”
The research was conducted by the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) widely acknowledged as the most prestigious and independent contest of its type in the world. The competition has over 300 judges from 30 countries who have shared their exclusive tips for choosing wine and spirits, in celebration of the competition’s 45th anniversary. The full list of tips can be viewed in the cut out and keep ‘The Drinks Knowledge’ infographic.
For further information on the International Wine and Spirits Competition please visit www.iwsc.net
Award-winning film director, Francis Ford Coppola wins prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) Trophy for his wine.
It is not only the Hollywood A-lists in front of the screen such as Brangelina that are producing quality wine. Renowned American film director, producer and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola best known for films including The Godfather Trilogy and Apocalypse Now, has produced a star IWSC Trophy winning wine from California, Sonoma County.
The Mission Hill Winery Trophy for Chardonnay was awarded to producer Francis Ford Coppola Presents for its wine Director’s Cut Chardonnay 2012. Judges said that the wine had ‘subtle creamy aromas with touches of white peach and walnut with a lingering mineral back note.’
The IWSC now in its 45th year promotes the quality and excellence of the world’s best wines, spirits and liqueurs. It has been quoted as the ‘Oscars’ of the drinks trade and all wines entered from around the world, endure a rigorous blind tasting and are judged by some of the world’s leading drinks experts. Medals featured on winning bottles assure consumers that they are purchasing a quality product
IWSC General Manager Ewan Lacey said, ‘This is a great win for the Francis Ford Coppola Winery and demonstrates that creativity is not limited to a sector, it can be transferred intro producing a top award-winning wine.’
Another highlight from the results was The IWSC Trophy for Port awarded to Graham’s Single Harvest Tawny Port 1969. The winner was produced in the same year that the IWSC was started, judges said that ‘the intensity lasts from the first taste and cruises effortlessly to almost a never ending finish.’
The 10th September saw the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) announce its Beautiful South wine results at the Wines of the Beautiful South, London Olympia.
A strong performance was seen by South Africa, as they topped the Beautiful South medal leader board with an impressive 632 medals. Eight Gold Outstanding medals were awarded in the competition, South Africa picked up seven of these as well as 29 Gold. Highlights include leading wine and spirit producer KWV picking up 22 medals and Nederburg Wines being awarded three of the eight Gold Outstanding medals.
Producers in Chile also performed well, the country collected 375 medals, including a Gold Outstanding for its Casas del Bosque Syrah Pequenas Producciones 2012 and four Silver Outstanding medals were awarded to white wines all from the Aconcagua Region.
Among Argentina’s 234 medal haul, it was the country’s famous Malbec wines from Mendoza, which stood out and were awarded four Gold medals.
Brazil, hot on the heels of Chile and Argentina, picked up 19 medals including five Silver medals. Four of these were awarded to sparkling wines, a style which the country has recently been praised for.
The supermarkets put in a strong performance, Tesco was awarded 11 medals including a Silver for its Finest* Stellenbosch Red 2011. Sainsbury’s picked up eight medals, with its Taste the Difference Morador Malbec 2013 winning a Bronze. Lidl’s Cimarosa Chilean Pedro Jimenez 2013 was awarded a Silver medal. Aldi was awarded a Bronze for its The Exquisite Collection Uco Valley Malbec 2014.
IWSC General Manager, Ewan Lacey commented, “South Africa has done extremely well in the Beautiful South results. This year IWSC hosted showcases in South Africa and South America earlier this year, and the level of wines discovered were outstanding. Interestingly, looking at the results as a whole, it was interesting to see that we found that 2013 vintages were the strongest in this year’s competition.”
23rd July saw the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC), announce the winners of its 2014 spirits competition. The IWSC now in its 45th year promotes the quality and excellence of the world’s best wines, spirits and liqueurs. Over 70 Gold Outstanding medals were awarded this year across the globe.
Supermarket Lidl impressed judges and was awarded 14 medals including a Gold Outstanding medal for its own brand scotch, the £12.99 Queen Margot 8 Year Blended Scotch Whisky. Other supermarket results included Waitrose which was awarded a Gold Outstanding medal for its £18.00 Scotch Whisky Blended 8 YO and Morrisons Five Times Distilled Vodka which was awarded a Gold medal.
Adnams, the Suffolk brewer impressed judges with its Longshore Vodka and was awarded the prestigious Vodka Trophy. This is the first time an artisan English brand has won the Vodka Trophy, beating vodka producing countries such as Poland, France and Russia.
Twenty countries from around the world were awarded a medal or trophy for gin entries including Slovenia, USA, Australia and Wales. Highlights include German brand Steinhauser, scooping the coveted London Dry Gin Trophy with its See-Gin Bodensee Dry Gin and Egyptian brand Al Ahram picking up a Silver medal with its Butler’s Gin. As well as the London Dry Gin Trophy, this year also saw the introduction of the Contemporary Gin Trophy, won by Bourbon Barreled Big Gin from Captive Spirits Distilling.
IWSC General Manager, Ewan Lacey said, “At the International Wine and Spirit Competition we are excited by the surge in artisanal products, more than double 2013; this has been capped off by Adnams Longshore Vodka beating off competition from all corners of the globe to win the coveted Vodka Trophy. It is an amazing achievement and a massive salute to their skill and dedication.”
The 23rd July saw me travelling down to London to a rather prestigious event where some of the elite spirits would be showcased. A rather bold concept, but when you have the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) 2014 winners, who incidentally were announced that very morning for, in one room, it’s an honour to have been offered the invite. Organised by both the IWSC and The Worshipful Company of Distillers, the event was to the 7th annual and held within the Vintner’s Hall.
All gold winners were on display here, with a smattering of ‘Outstanding’ silver winners (197 overall), alongside brand representatives and Master Distillers, so to me it was the perfect opportunity to not only try some of the names I hear so much about, but to also experience, and ultimately compare, the liquid of a winning brand to other similar flavour profiles and categories.
As I tasted a fair few, for ease, below you will find my tasting notes covering a variety of categories –
Bourbon Barreled Big Gin – 47%
Aged 6 months in a once used Kentucky bourbon barrel. Slight wood aromas on the nose with a smooth vanilla scent following. The vanilla dominates the palate, offering a smooth yet dry finish.
Bedrock – 40%
Fresh and fruity on the nose with red berry and liquorice styles dominating. Sharp on the palate with a rather harsh kick of cinnamon creating a very long and very dry finish.
See-Gin Bodensee – 48%
A rather high kick of alcohol, with plenty of aromas including liquorice on the nose. Smooth and aromatic on the palate, but develops with a good kick of liquorice allsorts. A little raw because of this, but produces a lingering finish.
Hernö Juniper Cask – 47%
Lively with heavy juniper on the nose, rounded off with sweet notes. A smooth start on the palate, developing a sharp citrus that creates a lingering finish.
El Tesoro Añejo – 40%
Light caramel on the nose with hints of banana coming through. Smooth, subtle flavours of dry, sun-kissed toffee creating a lingering finish.
El Tesoro Platinum – 40%
Smooth with notes of caramel and kicks of fresh wood on the nose. Very smooth with a banana flavour dominating. A long, fresh finish that’s slightly dry.
Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo – 40%
Light on the nose with fragrant scents of wood and honey coming through. Again light on the palate, with hits of banana and smooth, fresh agave. A slightly sharp finish that lingers.
Milargro Special Reserve Añejo – 40%
Fresh agave on the nose creates a rather aromatic experience. A rich blend of agave and wood on the palate that’s lively, yet lingers to a dry finish.
Vieux Niesson – 45%
Light with high, aromatic notes of cocoa and spices. A slow burner on the palate, with again light, aromatic flavours of wood, spice and almonds. Long finish.
Rum Company Old Guadeloupe Calvados Finish – 43%
Rich apple and orange notes, with vanilla and dried fruits kicking the end. Very smooth on the palate, with the rich aromatic fruit flavours dominating, followed by delicate sweetness that produces a long finish.
Angostura 1824 – 40%
Soft notes of wood and sugar on the nose with hints of vanilla following. Very smooth and rich on the palate, with plenty of fresh kicks of wood, honey and spice on the lingering finish.
Pays d’Auge 8yr – 41%
Rich apple aromas on the nose, yet becomes lighter once onto the palate. More aromatic styling, with a smooth, rather thin finish that’s surprisingly short.
4 Fundos– 42%
Very aromatic on the nose with fresh, light fruit flavours coming through. Sharp and very dry on the palate, with cereal flavours creating a long finish.
Blanton’s Gold Edition – 51.5%
Light wood on the nose with rich wheat and sweet honey combining soon after. A sharp spice start on the palate, that soon mellows into a sweet, long fudge finish.
Russell’s Reserve Small Batch – 45%
Light and aromatic on the nose with plenty of wood notes before dark caramel aromas step in. Light and thin on the palate, creating a mouth-watering flavour of caramel and wood before hitting a sharp finish.
Blanton’s Original Single Barrel – 66.6%
A bold hit of fruit and sweetness combined on the nose. Incredibly rich on the palate with deep kicks of caramel that creates a long finish.
New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1 – 56.5%
Fresh notes of light wood on the nose combined with sweet spice. Very rich on the palate, with an incredible sooth offering of toffee, banana, dry fruits and chocolate to create a lingering finish.
SOUTH AFRICAN WHISKY
Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky 5yr – 43%
Smooth with a slight whisp of smoke on the nose. Light and thin on the palate, with a slight kick of vanilla and coconut before the short finish.
Gibsons Finest Rare Blended 18yr
Smooth caramelised vanilla blended with fruits appear on the nose. A rich, sharp fruity start on the palate, mellowing down to a sweet vanilla and spice combination.
English Whiskey Company Peated – 43%
Delicate peat nose with hints of green fruit coming through. Short, light peat and some kicks of fruit on the palate.
Säntis Malt Edition Snow White 2 – 48%
Light, fresh, soft fruit on the nose, turning over onto the palate too. Aromatic herbs and spices combine with white fruits to create a lingering finish.
Mackmyra Svensk Reserve Double Wood Elegant– 48%
Plenty of wood and malt on the nose, although a lighter experience once upon the palate. Chocolate and tobacco flavours dominate before moving to a smooth vanilla finish.
Tullamore Dew Special Reserve 12yr– 40%
Smooth, soft notes of citrus and almond on the nose. Slightly sweet on the palate, with citrus, honey and spice combining well for a short finish.
Bushmills 10yr– 40%
Light cereal notes on the nose with hints of floral and raisin. Smooth, light and easy to enjoy on the palate, with vanilla, spice and kicks of chocolate combining for a short finish.
Bushmills 16yr – 40%
Dark fruits mix with deep hits of malt on the nose. Sharp, rich malt on the palate too, although smooths into a short finish of sherry.
Bushmills 21yr – 40%
Light, aromatic nose of sherry and fresh fruits. Cinnamon and liquorice combine on the palate, with a long finish of the sherry and malt.
Teeling Vintage Reserve 30yr– 46%
Fine, light caramel notes on the nose, with rich almonds following. Sharp start on the palate, but mellows into a light malt, honey and spice blend that creates a lingering finish.
Redbreast 15yr – 46%
Aromatic ripe fruit on the nose, with a soft malt finish. Plenty of barley and vanilla on the palate creating a rich and slightly sweet finish.
Grant’s Voyager – 40%
Rich on the nose with smooth cereal notes and ripe fruit. A combination of honey, fruit and chocolate dominates the palate, creating a rich, sweet lingering finish.
Ballantine’s Limited Deluxe Blend – 43%
Ripe berry and barley blend on the nose, with hints of citrus cutting through. A sharp start on the palate with vanilla countering the citrus for a long finish.
Grant’s Deluxe 18yr – 40%
A lively cereal nose with a good blend of toffee and honey. A light offering on the palate with toffee and ginger, mixing with hints of spice on the short finish.
Glenmorangie Signet – 48%
Light notes of toffee, fudge, chocolate and cinnamon blending together on the nose. A developing sharpness to a ripe malt kick, which mellows towards the short, rich finish of stoned fruit.
Glenmorangie 18yr– 43%
Light on the nose with citrus and fresh white fruit dominating. A developing kick of spice on the palate, followed by a dry, fruity finish.
Glenglassaugh 30yr – 44.8%
Smooth, dried fruits on the nose, followed by a light offering of raisin on the palate. A good kick of malt and spice on the finish with hints of tobacco.
Glenglassaugh 40yr – 42.5%
Rich chocolate and toffee notes on the nose. Burnt wood blends with nutmeg to create a long, rich, deep offering.
The Dalmore 25yr– 42%
Soft vanilla on the nose with hints of dried fruits and citrus. Soft, smooth oak that warms flavours of chocolate and toffee into rich offerings.
Glenmorangie 25yr – 43%
Light cereal notes combined with coffee and dried fruits on the nose. A slight citrus kick on the palate with honey, subtle spice and oak flavours creating a long finish.
Glenfiddich 125th Aniversary Edition – 43%
Aromatic scents of wood on the nose, with plenty of ripe fruits following. A good citrus burst on the palate, with a developing richness of malt and sweetness, leading to a whisp of smoke on the finish.
Glenfiddich Malt Master Speyside– 43%
Soft toffee and honey combine on the nose with ripe pears. Very soft on the palate, with sharp fruit, spice and vanilla offered on a short finish.
Some absolute crackers available, despite missing out on the likes of vodka, cognac and brandy, fruit spirits, shochu and armagnac as well as the names I’ve already had the pleasure of experiencing (Elmer T. Lee, Southwestern Distillers, The King’s Ginger, Mozart Gold and Col E. H. Taylor Jr the stand out missing expressions from the above list).
One expression that has truly surprised me was the New World Projects Starward Single Cask #1, coming in at a hefty 56.5% and hailing from Australia. This whisky has dominated my conversations of the event to anyone who will listen to me! One that I will be sourcing as soon as possible so I can enjoy a country that granted, you wouldn’t expect to get a good spirit from, especially compared to their wines, but have raised their output considerably and most importantly, winning a gold medal that highlights their work and effort.
Congratulations to them, and to the rest of the winners!