The long-established competition has returned stronger than ever, and the wait is over: the winners have been announced!
As of 12th April, it is with pride and joy that we celebrate the spirits that have been crowned this year’s winners, championing premium quality and opening our industry to a plethora of new combinations to experiment with.
Keeping end consumers in minds, spirits were rated by a curated panel of judges according to three main criteria: quality, value and packaging. To be a medal winner, spirits must achieve a high rating in all three areas, with the most impactful factor being quality.
Some of the country’s top bartenders and spirits buyers gathered on March 22-23-24 at St Mary’s Church in London’s Marylebone, sniffing, swirling, and spitting their way through a vast array of gins, vodkas, and whiskies as well as a range of more esoteric spirits.
A record number of entrants this year were vying for the much-coveted bronze, silver, and gold medals, with about 2000 spirits brands entering from more than 80 countries. 695 Gins made Gin the top category entrant, followed by Rum and Whiskey. There was a solid growth in participation of rums showing signs that the liquid is expected to grow further in 2023.
“The London Spirits Competition is becoming more widely known in the trade with each passing year, and as a result we are receiving an increased number of entries,” commented Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network, which owns and manages the event. “I have to say I am pleasantly surprised at the increased number of entries this year as the pandemic resulted in many drinks companies putting their NPD on hold and focusing on their core operations instead. This is just testament to the increasingly good reputation of the competition as word spreads in the industry that we offer something a bit different from other events.”
The judges not only applauded the quality of this year’s entrants, but also felt that the criteria used to judge the competition, where the drinks are assessed on their packaging, design and commercial viability as well as taste was not just a gimmick, but something that gave the awards more credibility and gravitas.
Tyriq Pitts, one of the judges and Bartender at the Bloomsbury Hotel’s Coral Room, said: “These factors are really important,” said Pitts. “It’s easy to just focus on the taste and flavour, but at the end of the day if it doesn’t appeal to consumers and doesn’t sell, it’s pointless.”
While this additional information and feedback is invaluable to buyers trying to make sense of the category, it’s also massively helpful to the brands themselves entering the competition, who benefit from the wisdom of the expert panel, something that would otherwise be hard to come by – not to mention very costly.
Downpour from North Uist Distillery Co. in Scotland won Spirit of the Year 2023, with a whopping 98 points. “London dry gin with juniper, citrus and spice on nose and palate with well-rounded and rich texture with hints of cardamom and liquorice towards the end,” were the tasting notes given by Judges.
Once more, we take this opportunity to congratulate every single entrant and, most of all, the winners who have really distinguished themselves as the most forward-thinking, relatable and high-quality spirits in our industry.
See you next year!