This year, the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) tried to answer the question of which brands are best for a gin and tonic and a Bloody Mary. The new categories drew on some seasoned palates with a team of judges led by Ivan Dixon, the spirits and beer buyer for Harvey Nicholls.
Their verdict for a G&T was Napue Gin from the Kyrö distillery in Finland, which is created in small batches from rye and uses locally sourced botanicals such as meadowsweet, sea-buckthorn, cranberries and birch leaves.
Mikko Koskinen from Kryö Distillery in Isokyrö said: “Napue was inspired by childhood memories of a sauna located between a meadow and an old, dark spruce wood. The birch, meadowsweet and spruce-like juniper remind me of the smells of the misty mornings at that place.”
It was judged mixed one part Napue and three parts Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water, with ice and garnished with a sprig of rosemary and a few Finnish cranberries served in a Litalla Lempi tumbler.
For a Bloody Mary, the judges chose Vodrock from over 30 vodkas tasted mixed with Big Tom Spiced Tomato Juice. The German vodka is created using high-quality organic wheat and a particularly slow filtration to produce a pure, mild vodka with hints of buffalo grass and lemon.
Lawrence Mallinson, managing director at Big Tom’s parent company James White Drinks, said: “The Bloody Mary is a unique cocktail enjoyed by millions worldwide, with a heritage from the style and glamour of the Prohibition era, to a modern favourite for Sunday brunch and most popular airplane aperitif. Mastering the art of the a Bloody Mary is quite a skill and unfortunately many bar staff think adding a dash of Tabasco Sauce and stick of celery will suffice. The unpredictability of the Bloody Mary deters many enthusiastic Bloody Mary drinkers from ordering.
“Our 25cl bottle of Big Tom makes the perfect Blood Mary every time and is ideal for busy bar staff who don’t have time to mix one from scratch. I’d like to thank the ISWC for pairing Big Tom with the different vodkas and judging purely on taste rather than the skill of mixology. Many congratulations to Vodrock for becoming a perfect match for Big Tom.”
For a full list of IWSC winners, visit www.iwsc.net