IWSC 2019 highlights key trends in the world of spirits

IWSC 2019

The IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition) has released its annual results, detailing the key spirits trends to watch over for the next year.

Following a judging of almost 3000 entries, the IWSC announced the 2019 spirits winners at the 12th Annual Spirits Tasting, hosted in London. The results show that, while historically popular spirits such as whisky are still standing the test of time, there are also many unexplored spirits for drinkers to try.



This year, the IWSC created its first ever trophy for pisco, a Chilean and Peruvian brandy. The new trophy recognises the growing category of pisco, with both Chilean and Peruvian piscos achieving Gold Outstanding medals and the trophy going to El Gobernador from Miguel Torres SA, a Chilean pisco made from Muscat grapes.

Christelle Guibert, CEO of Fine Wine and Spirits at The Conversion Group, said: “It has been fantastic to recognise the quality of pisco with its own trophy following a growing popularity within the category.

“There have been a number of outstanding entries, showing that this Chilean and Peruvian spirit is certainly one to watch this year.”

Shochu and baijiu

The IWSC also identifies that Asian spirits have also been gaining a new respect and appreciation as the category continues to grow and improve in quality.

Both Japanese spirit shochu and China’s best-selling spirit, baijiu, performed incredibly well this year, with baijiu winning five Gold Outstanding and 11 Gold medals and shochu sweeping four Gold medals.

IWSC chair judge Steve Beal said: “The eyes of the world are on Asian spirits, particularly shochu and baijiu. This year we have been gifted with wonderful examples of some of the very best.

“The examples we judged were extraordinary and reflect the strength and growth of the Asian spirits category and their growing popularity in the West.”

Tequila and mezcal

Tequila and mezcal have also been growing in popularity. For the second year in a row, mezcal swept the dedicated agave spirits trophy. The IWSC team recognises that is was a fantastic win for the category as many more tequilas are entered for this award in comparison to mezcal.



Rum has been tipped by spirits experts to be the ‘next gin’, and the results from the IWSC reflect that the popularity and quality of the spirit is increasing.

For 2019, five rums were awarded the Gold Outstanding medal by the IWSC, which is three more than 2018, demonstrating a growth in quality. One of these Gold Outstanding awards notably went to an unaged white rum from Worthy Park Estate, Jamaica – a type of rum rarely awarded so highly.


Gin continues to be an incredibly popular spirit, with countries from around the world winning trophies across the different categories. Old Pilot’s Gin from Croatia won the London Dry Gin trophy while distilleries from Australia and Switzerland also won trophies for their gins.

Whilst gin is certainly not a new trend in the spirits world, the IWSC has continued to see an increase in entries, particularly in the category of flavoured gin. The use of tea as a botanical both before and after distillation to bring complexity and structure to the spirit is a growing trend within the category, with tea gins being entered for awards of varying styles this year.

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