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The Speciality Spirits Masters 2021 results


Due to the rise of at-home cocktail making, speciality drinks corresponding to vermouths and bitters have taken the market by storm. Melita Kiely experiences.

Speciality Spirits Masters
Speciality spirits shine in cocktails just like the Negroni

The rise of the beginner at‐house bartender has sparked recent enthusiasm for speciality spirits corresponding to vermouths and apéritifs. Mixed with continued demand for decrease‐ABV drinks, spurred on by the well being and wellbeing development, speciality spirits have had ample alternative to recruit new drinkers to this beforehand neglected class.

Final yr, the Covid‐19 pandemic took its toll on the world’s greatest speciality spirits manufacturers, and main labels struggled to develop on account of a number of challenges, as reported in The Brand Champions 2021. Nevertheless, as restrictions ease and vaccination programmes acquire better take‐up, it’s hoped the approaching yr will deliver optimism for manufacturers.

To find out the usual of speciality spirits available on the market – spanning every part from aquavit to amaro and low/no‐alcohol merchandise – The World Spirits Masters gathered a bunch of tasters on the Novotel Lodge in London Bridge for a day of judging. To ensure a very blind tasting, Smart was recruited to pack and ship every bottle.

Judging panels
The judges

Three panels tackled the 2021 entries. The primary group comprised: Sara Jane Eichler, co‐founder and occasions organiser at Negroni Membership UK; Chris Tanner, bar supervisor at Milroy’s; Dimple Athavia, founding father of All Issues Drinks; and Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Enterprise and chair of the competitors.

The second panel was fashioned of: Tobias Gorn, co‐founder and senior associate on the Worldwide Drinks Specialists, who additionally acted as chair; Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor of The Spirits Enterprise; Ivan Dixon, unbiased drinks advisor; and Nicola Thomson, director of Sensible Issues.

Chairing the third panel was David T Smith, spirits author, advisor and co‐founding father of the Craft Distilling Expo. He was joined by Bernadette Pamplin, freelance spirits author and founding father of the Below the Ginfluence weblog; and Matt Chambers, whisky author and co‐founding father of the Whisky for Everybody weblog.

The judges have been eager to dive into the primary flight of the day: Aquavit. The entries didn’t disappoint, both, with the primary Grasp medal of the day offered to OP Anderson Klar Aquavit. The expression was described as “refreshing and sophisticated, with an excessive amount of magnificence. A pleasant stability between cooling botanicals and heat, easy alcohol”. Gorn mentioned it was “actually prime quality”.

5 Gold medals have been additionally awarded on this flight, together with one to OP Anderson Aquavit. Gorn mentioned about this expression: “This was a traditional fashion, brilliantly made. Clean and chic with a pleasant spicy chunk on the finish. The cooling caraway works properly.”

The opposite 4 Gold medals have been awarded to bottlings from Oslo Håndverksdestilleri. The Norway‐based mostly distiller’s Akevitt Teeling Whiskey Casks secured the Gold seal of approval for being “mild and simple to drink” with a “traditional botanical invoice”. The producer’s Gold‐successful Juleakevitt additionally impressed with its “lovely mouthfeel, creamy and silky with a pleasant heat spice end”.

A Silver medal accomplished the opening flight.

Dixon famous: “There was an attention-grabbing combine of recent and conventional, as a class it’s going in direction of that extra fashionable fashion, softer and fewer in your face, much less punchy, extra mixable. The white fashion of aquavit is the place the way forward for the class lies when it comes to getting it on the map. There’s a lot potential for the class that hasn’t been realised but.”

Spritz cocktail
Spritz season: many speciality spirits work properly combined with fizz

Within the subsequent flight, Shōchū, 58 Gin collected a Gold medal for its 58 Distillery Shochu. The expression was described as “earthy and candy” with “maltiness. Mild and delicate on the palate, very earthy with peppery spice, a touch of candied sweetness and an earthy potato word and natural qualities on the finish.”

A double dose of Gold medals got within the Absinthe flight. Scooping the primary of the 2 awards was Devil’s Botany Absinthe Regalis, made by London’s first absinthe distillery, Satan’s Botany. Eichler discovered notes of “aniseed balls” on the nostril and “vegetal, spiced” flavours with “plenty of huge pepper notes”.

Wonderful earthy flavour

In the meantime, Gold medallist Murmichan from Scotland delivered “large great wafts of fennel” on the nostril, whereas being “mild, recent, huge and spicy” on the palate. Tanner mentioned about Murmichan: “The nostril is unimaginable; huge, daring fennel seed. When it’s diluted, it has a tremendous earthy and wooden flavour, and a protracted end.”

The Vermouth flight generated pleasure amongst members of the judging panels, as two Grasp medallists have been celebrated. Valentian Vermouth Rosso was deemed deserving of the highest award due to its “nice depth of bitter aromas, bark, aniseed, and a contact of sweetness – however not overpowering”.

Bianco Chinato additionally obtained the very best accolade. Pamplin described this Grasp winner as having a “lovely, wealthy, aromatic nostril” with a “beautiful daring flavour all through”.

5 Gold medals gave the flight a further enhance. The Gold award was bestowed upon: Le Vermouth Blanc, with “honey and warming herbs” on the palate; Le Vermouth Rouge, with “peppery and orangey notes”; “tangy, recent and zingy” La Quintinye Vermouth Royal White; “very expressive” Forty‐5 Vermouth Distinctly Dry with “a tangy and dry” palate; and La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Pink, with its “spicy and virtually chocolatey” nostril.

Two Silver medals additional enhanced the medal haul on this flight.

Eichler significantly loved Valentian Vermouth Rosso, and mentioned: “This was a extremely good, traditional vermouth. It was properly built-in and extra complicated than it appears at first sip. You possibly can sit there and uncover new flavours – it has a beautiful spherical sweetness at first, then evolves.”

Continuing to the Pisco flight and a Gold medal was handed to Pisco Puro Quebranta. Smith mentioned: “This had dry grape notes, some florality, a bit of sweetness and a few chewiness.” Further tasting notes included “cherry stones and nuttiness”.

Spritz cocktail with a speciality spirit such as Campari
The continued recognition of at-home cocktail-making has boosted enthusiasm for speciality spirits

The Bitters/Amaro spherical delivered one other Gold medallist within the type of Campari Cask Tales. The judges loved the “bitter natural notes” complemented by a “beautiful reasonably candy background and a few citrus”.

Two Silver medals have been additionally awarded to non‐alcoholic Higher Than Bitters’ Lotus Bitters, which had a “citrusy and recent nostril”, and Higher Than Bitters Mole Bitters, with its “cocoa and natural notes”.

Consideration then turned to the ultimate flight of the day: Pre‐Combined Drinks. The class produced a Grasp medallist – Delmago Drinks’ Negroni. The judges have been blown away by the prepared‐to‐drink cocktail’s “bittersweet” profile, with “rhubarb and cherry notes, and a peppery, spicy end”.

A Gold medal went to Thoreau by Les Bienheureux, whereas Silvers have been secured by Starward for Starward Whisky Negroni, Starward Espresso Outdated Common, and Starward (New) Outdated Common.

With the principle bulk of the judging accomplished, the one job left was to retaste the Grasp winners and declare the Speciality Spirits Style Grasp 2021 winner. The usual of entries made selecting difficult, however the judges agreed the award needs to be bestowed upon Bianco Chinato for being “so fragrant, with light natural notes, hints of vanilla, grape juice and sultana”.

The judges have been totally impressed with the general customary of the entries this yr, and famous the range of flavours and kinds on provide – all necessary to fulfill demand from right this moment’s discerning shoppers. Because the business and shoppers alike welcome the reopening of the on‐commerce, it appears to be like seemingly that at‐house cocktail‐making will proceed to be common – a welcome growth for the burgeoning speciality spirits manufacturers desirous to faucet into a brand new viewers of drinkers.


Model proprietor Product identify Medal
Anora Group OP Anderson Klar Aquavit Grasp
Anora Group OP Anderson Aquavit Gold
OHD Oslo Håndverksdestilleri Akevitt Teeling Whiskey Casks Gold
OHD Oslo Håndverksdestilleri Juleakevitt Gold
OHD Oslo Håndverksdestilleri Akevitt Clean Gold
OHD Oslo Håndverksdestilleri Oslo Håndverksdestilleri Akevit Gold
Anora Group OP Anderson Björk Silver


Model proprietor Product identify Medal
58 Gin 58 Distillery Shochu Gold


Model proprietor Product identify Medal
Satan’s Botany Satan’s Botany Absinthe Regalis Gold
Misplaced Loch Spirits Murmichan Gold


Model proprietor Product identify Medal
Delmago Drinks Bianco Chinato Grasp & Style Grasp
Tait Bros Valentian Vermouth Valentian Vermouth Rosso Grasp
Joseph Cartron Vermouth Blanc Gold
Joseph Cartron Vermouth Rouge Gold
Maison Villevert La Quintinye Vermouth Royal White Gold
The Spirit of Manchester Distillery Forty‐5 Vermouth Distinctly Dry Gold
Maison Villevert La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Pink Gold
Maison Villevert La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Further Dry Silver
The Spirit of Manchester Distillery Forty‐5 Vermouth Radiant Rose Silver


Model proprietor Product identify Medal
Piscologia (Topa Spirits) Pisco Puro Quebranta Gold


Model proprietor Product identify Medal
Campari Campari Cask Tales Gold
Sakura Contemporary Japan Higher Than Bitters Lotus Bitters Silver
Sakura Contemporary Japan Higher Than Bitters Mole Bitters Silver

Pre‐Combined Drinks

Model proprietor Product identify Medal
Delmago Drinks Negroni Grasp
Les Bienheureux Thoreau Gold
Starward Starward Whisky Negroni Silver
Starward Starward Espresso Outdated Common Silver
Starward Starward (New) Outdated Common Silver

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