With categories for asian spirits such as Baiju and Shochu added to the competition in 2016 the IWSC is an evolving authority on the very best spirits from around the world | Source: The Buyer

Sweet Sloe Gin, 40yo Single Malt and a Complex Armagnac Amongst IWSC Trophy Winners

Sipping at a whiskey is undoubtedly enjoyable, the balance of peat, smokiness and malt makes a pleasant experience, but when you want to try the very best spirits the world has to offer, there is no better place to start than the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC).

A global contest deciding the finest Tequila, Mezcal, Gin and others awarded gold, silver and bronze medals for different spirit categories last month, with the awards for wine and sake to be handed out in May.

The coveted IWSC spirit award-trophy winners for 2022 were picked as the spirit judging committee reconvened for a second tasting the week after awarding the medals.

The following are the stand-outs from this year’s IWSC spirit awards:

Junimperium Distillery Sloe Gin

Awarded the World’s Best Sloe at the World Gin Awards in 2021, this fruity, deep red coloured sloe is a fresh and slightly citrusy sloe gin with delightful juniper notes.

The official tasting notes from the IWSC say the Junimperium Distillery Sloe Gin displays “white pepper and rich marzipan sitting on top of a ripe fruit core” and suggests the best way to consume is to sip, but sloe gin is becoming popular in cocktails and the Junimperium website suggests trying it in a variation of your favourite cocktail, like a “sloegroni” or “sloe sour.”

Alternatively just mix this versatile flavoured gin with lemonade and plenty of ice on a warm afternoon, at only 30 per cent ABV it can make a welcome, fruity addition to your liquor cabinet.

Junimperium Distillery Sloe Gin 700ml, A$58.17 | Source: Master of Malt

SCV Beraut Château de Pellehaut Ugni Blanc 40 YO Armagnac

A nose with notes of hazelnut, walnut and chestnut and a robust palate reminding you of cocoa and dark chocolate, this Brandy is made to enjoy, the IWSC awarding it a score of 98 out of 100.

A solid spirit, Château de Pellehaut Ugni Blanc 40 YO Armagnac proudly displays hints of fragrant oak refined by the use of 100 per cent Ugni Blanc grapes, this 40-year-old Armagnac is like an old friend, familiar and pleasant.

Château de Pellehaut is situated at the highest point in the district of Montreal du Gers in Ténarèze and today covers 530 hectares of land, of which 180 hectares grow vines.

SCV Beraut Château de Pellehaut Ugni Blanc 40 YO Armagnac, A$196 | Source: Armanac.com

Tomatin Distillery 1976 Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Tomatin is a very old distillery, it claims that Whiskey has been made in the town of Tomatin since the 1600s when cattle drivers would buy from the local still.

In 1987 Tomatin was referred to as the largest malt distillery in Scotland but stills have been dismantled since, bringing whiskey production down to 2.5 million litres in 2007.

The unpeated single cask, IWSC tasting notes describe the 1976 Single Malt Scotch Whisky as surprisingly tropical with notes of guava, papaya and mango on the palate, the nose is seductively round with a rich aroma of linseed and sweet honey.

Tomatin Rare Casks 40-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, $3699 | Source: Nicks Wine Merchants

Quintessential Brands Opihr Aromatic Bitters Gin

A bold, savoury-led spiced London Dry gin with balanced bitter notes, Opihr Aromatic Bitters Gin can be mixed with Campari and vermouth to make a spicy variation of the classic Negroni or sipped to appreciate the balanced myrrh and cascarilla bark elements.

The official ISWC tasting notes mention lemon, coriander, herbs and pepper aromas with hints of floral aromas and a palate of, “cardamom, a soft butteryness and pepper combining with the citrus notes, creating a well-integrated and well-made, interesting gin.”

A versatile spirit, London dry gin will continue to be a popular choice as variations and new flavour profiles are experimented with, this offering from the English distillery must not be missed.

Quintessential Brands Opihr Aromatic Bitters Gin, A$64.40 | Source: The Juniper Collective

Corte Vetusto Mesquite Smoked Artesanal Espadin Joven Mezcal

In the rugged central valleys of Oaxaca, where 70% of all Mezcal is made, legend surrounds the distilling of this classic Mexican spirit, It is said that a lightning bolt struck an agave plant, cooking and opening it, producing the first batch of Mezcal.

This particular example of the mesquite-smoked spirit is meticulously hand-crafted by Juan Carlos Gonzalez Diaz, a 4th generation Zapotec Maestro Mezcalero, producing mezcal with a depth of flavour and eminent drinkability.

Mesquite Smoked Artesanal Espadin Joven Mezcal has an elegant hint of cream cheese and vanilla, lifted by a touch of citrus pine smoke on the nose, the palate produces, “hues of strawberry, cherry and plum on the palate alongside refreshing cucumber and a suggestion of tobacco.”

Corte Vetusto Espadin Mezcal, A$82.88 | Source: Curiada

Heaven Hill Distillery Larceny Barrel Proof (A122) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

A wheat-dominted, dark, unseated Bourbon that will knock your socks off, and not just because it is an eye-watering 62.2%ABV.

IWSC judges concluded that Larceny Barrel Proof (A122) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is an “interesting and complex” bourbon, honeyed, sun-drenched apricots fill the nose and combine with plump raisins and finely spiced oak to deliver something strong, but with excellent character.

Winter wheat in distilling replaces the spicier, fruitier flavour notes that rye provides with a softer character, giving this bourbon a rounded depth, lacking in many bourbons on the market.

Heaven Hill Distillery Larceny Barrel Proof (A122) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, A$66.84 | Source: Beverage Dynamics

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