Exceptional, Alternative, Trendy and Unusual at the WSA 2020

Gin – a never-ending story

At the WSA 2020 we expected to see approximately 30 samples and producers taking part in this difficult category. We were way off – for the fourth year in a row there were about 85 samples to “deconstruct” and award points to.

So why is the hype not dying down? To put it simply: Everyone wants to make a gin that stands out, whether they are a distiller or just an individual with an affinity for gin.

The magical combination in this segment is Gin & Tonic – these two drinks get on like a house on fire. So there is a steady stream of new quality entering the market, ensuring a consistent boom.

The result is that the diversity and quality of “real” gins are holding their own against inventive products (to be precise, herb and spice spirits). Cheers! Here’s to a gin the Queen Mum would have loved.

Jagatee and stone pine gaining respect

It’s perhaps a little odd that if you think of these two products, you almost automatically think of ski huts, Christmas markets or sauna oils. However, the quality as well as the production methods have now improved enormously. The stone pine products range from spirits to liqueurs, also with juices added. Cheers to the double gold medals that were awarded in this category.

In the name of the “blossom” …

There is a new trend with liqueurs: resourceful distillers have developed a new taste experience. This year, for the first time, blossom liqueurs were submitted and evaluated. These aromatic spirits are sure to find imitators in this category, as well as many followers. Here’s a question for you: Do you know what hibiscus liqueur smells and tastes like?

Whisky, in its purest form or with additional flavour?

There have never been so many whiskies submitted and evaluated at the World Spirits Award. Unfortunately, in the manufacture of this exquisite drink, more and more barrels are being reused, which is anything but beneficial for their quality and aroma.

The more often the barrels are filled, the less the aroma is transferred into the barrel’s contents. Storage time is much longer than with new barrels, which means the optimal point of maturity can be about 15 years. Barrels that are too old can only give a spirit a rather “exhausted” aroma. Sensorially, this tone is then very dry and very herbal – similar to lovage.

There are distilleries that only use new wood and those which, for whatever reason, always work with used barrels. A whisky labelled “Single Malt with Sherry Finish” should also be recognisable as such by its taste!

Since whisky is normally stored and matured in barrels for a very long time, it is usual to distil the basic distillate so that it is a little “impure”, so that at the end of the maturing process there is as much flavour as possible in the product.

However, if this still young alcohol basis is mixed with fruit juices or cream liqueurs and sold as a stand-alone product, it can unfortunately lead to a flawed end-product. But when a pure whisky is especially produced for this purpose, the result is an absolute dream come true and offers consumers an eclectic approach to the world of whisky.

Vermouth gets dusted off

If you think of what you would associate with vermouth, you can’t help thinking of James Bond – but that’s about it. Happily, this spirit has been revitalised in recent years. Produced according to an individual concept, vermouth is an eclectic enhancement for the (house) bar. Substituting it with unsold or substandard wine should, however, be considered barbaric.

Bitter isn’t always bitter

The variety ranges from classic Boonekamp to herb and spice liqueurs. While no sugar is added to the former, a liqueur must have more than 100 grams of sugar per litre in order to be labelled as such. This applies in the EU – but not necessarily the rest of the world.

Compared to gin, there is a clear structure for the optimal evaluation when tasting a bitter. For the submitted bitters there are different groupings – each in the sectors of spirits and liqueurs: herbs, herb bitters and various herb bitters that don’t belong to a clear category or are made from a special basic ingredient, such as gentian, peppermint or ginger.

WSA curiosity cabinet

Every year, certain specialist products stand out that make tasters ask themselves: “Who would drink this?”

Limoncello with chocolate is one such specialist candidate. You could garnish an ice-cream sundae with it or it could be a novelty drink at a ski hut. Yeast distillates are a perfect accompaniment for coffee or espresso. A ginger-raspberry liqueur might find a home in health conscious circles. There is a bold blend from Chile: a fruit spirit made from apple and Williams pear, refined with fir needles. In the mountains, hay is not just used for bedding – in Tyrol, a whisky barrel might be bedded in hay and pampered with herbs. And you won’t just find blossoms in the countryside: they can now also be found in a wide range of liqueurs, from hibiscus to rose.

New Masters of World Spirits

We would like to offer a warm welcome to the international “Masters of World Spirits”:

Anna-Clarissa Schulze Rötering, Hubertus Vallendar, Ing. Florian Kuenz, Ivo Jolk, Johannes Kuenz, Laura Merkac, Manuel Reichinger, Mario Vallendar, Matthias Maass, and Thomas Egger

Rejuvenation of the World Spirits Jury

It is incredibly hard to become a WSA jury member – getting there is a long and difficult process. The WSA is the only competition worldwide that trains its tasters at its own Academy in order to ensure the extremely high quality standards of this competition. In 2019, eight young people successfully completed the “Master of World Spirits” training course and, due to their above-average sensory abilities, were placed as C-tasters in the jury team, where they did an excellent job. And so we can look forward with confidence to the changing of the guard in the next five years.

Whisky, in its purest form or with additional flavour?

There have never been so many whiskies submitted and evaluated at the World Spirits Award. Unfortunately, in the manufacture of this exquisite drink, more and more barrels are being reused, which is anything but beneficial for their quality and aroma.

In general, however, the more often a barrel is filled, the less the aroma is transferred into the barrel’s contents. Storage times of the products are much longer than with a new barrel. Thus the optimal point of maturity can be about 15 years. Barrels that are too old only give a spirit a very ‘exhausted’ aroma. Sensorially, this tone is then very dry and very green – more like lovage.

There are distilleries which only use new wood and those which, for whatever reason, always work with used ones. But it would be a help if a whisky described as “Single Malt with Sherry Finish” could also be sensorially recognised as such!

However, if this still young alcohol basis is mixed with fruit juices or cream liqueurs and sold as a stand-alone product, it can unfortunately lead to a flawed end-product. But when a pure whisky is especially produced for this purpose, the result is an absolute dream come true and offers consumers an eclectic approach to the world of whisky.

Inside World Spirits with Wolfram Ortner©

Mastermind Wolfram Ortner is already working meticulously on the implementation of the concept "World-Spirits Tasting Video" with the center stage right in the WOB distillery in the Nock-Land. TV stands for "Tasting Videos" as well as for "Television": The videos are both offered to TV stations and published on the platform YouTube as trailer. In the protected area at www.world-spirits.com registered users can watch new episodes of „Inside World Spirits© with Wolfram Ortner“ in 3-week intervals. Specials round off the programme and are also disseminated on the internet and the website. The beginning started with „How to taste spirits correctly“, a humerous and ironic instruction!

„Inside World Spirits“, a witty mixture of entertaining talk and information about the subject „Spirits of the World“, is supposed to become our flagship. Ortner’s interlocutors and highlights are a distiller, an audience representative or celebrity as well as the Swiss landscape architect and botanical specialist Patrick Altermatt respectively.

2019 the first series with 15 episodes was already shot. In the form of a relaxed conversation (15 minutes) the video will encompass knowledge on the chosen themes as well as technical information on production which will be completed with a presentation and sensory analysis of three products consistent with the theme of the programme. Of course, the producers of the individual products will be presented orally and in pictures.

Nor will music be neglected: the group „Humus“ has composed and presented live the soundtrack for six episodes consistent with the subject.

Predominantly, the language is German and the individual takes are dubbed into English or vice versa. Example: In a Gin episode, we will talk about the production of the premium spirits, discuss different styles such as London Dry Gin, New Western Style Gin or Slow Gin and then sensorially "disassemble" three products. (In addition, a botanical (herbs, spices) is presented in each episode) and analysed for its suitability in cooking or as an ingredient in a spirit.

Per episode we will invite a viewer who can answer professional questions profoundly (e.g. What is „astringency“?) Interested? You can find a form for at least five questions to the editors at www.world-spirits.com . Please fill it in and send it off with your address!

The target group for World-Spirits TV are those who are interested in spirits, distillers, journalists and all those to work in industries related to spirits and gastronomy.

The individual episodes of the World Spirits Tasting videos „Inside World Spirits with Wolfram Ortner“© can be monitored exclusively on the website of world-spirits.tv and worldspirits.tv (in the protected user area) until they are broadcasted by tv stations.

WSA Spirits Finder, in the Apple Store and Play Store: Search app for spirit lovers and professionals

The World Spirits Award is known amongst experts as being the highest quality spirits award in the world. You now have the possibility to access the results directly, all the way back to 2008, using the WSA Spirits Finder. The WSA app (in German and English) has the following functions, which are available free of charge:

  • WSA Spirits Finder
  • WSA Spirits Calculator
  • WSA Website

Detailed information on the approx. 4,000 spirits – from A for Asbach Uralt to Z for Zwack Unicum: producers around the globe, from manufacture to industry (with direct links to the websites), products ranging from absinthe, Armagnac and Moutai to tequila and plum distillates (some with photos). You can select distilleries, restrict your search to medals or WSA years, choose a special brand or a special product, and much more. This comprehensive data pool is based on the results of the professional jury at the annual World Spirits Award. The app also includes verbal descriptions of brand-name products and the exact number of points they received (maximum 100 WOB points), meaning that it offers in-depth information on the price/performance ratio.

The Spirits Calculator is primarily designed for the catering and hotel sector, but can also be used by private individuals and professionals to calculate prices. It is basically a pocket calculator with modern technology and functions, which, in just a few steps, enables you to calculate spirits per portion – at the bar, in a restaurant, in a café or wherever else you might be. It doesn't matter which country you want to calculate your spirits in – this service tool includes all the important variables. The core function is the absolute calculation and not the percentage calculation of spirits. You can also enter the net income per portion and in doing so, as well as the costs such as service charges and VAT, you can also receive a customer-friendly price, which you can also print.

In addition, as a registered user you will also have access to the protected area on the World Spirits website, where you can find information from the spirits world which is hidden from non-users.

The WSA motto is “Simply the Best in Spirits!”. And, with the new WSA app, you will become part of the community who are sure to benefit from our life's work in spirits, always a ‘spiritual’ step ahead.

The WSA Spirits Finder at world-spirits.com

The official “World Spirits” website is equipped with helpful features – one highlight, besides the Online Guide and the Spirits Calculator, is the Spirits Finder, a database with the results of all the annual WSA products that have been tasted. The tool makes searching for producers or products simple, and also shows comparisons of the results of each product at different tastings. All functions are identical to those in the app.

Coffee & cigar distillates

“World Spirits” is also known as a trendsetter and motivates the distillers of fruit brandies to produce harmonious accompaniments for coffee and cigars. Destillerie Hochstrasser has produced the perfect accompaniment for a cigar with the mature “Muskat Zigarrenbrand 2013” (Muscat Cigar Brandy) in the group of cigar distillates. With coffee, “Schlehe 2018” (Sloe) from the Austrian Alfred Legenstein Distillery is in a league of its own.

 

Information

World Spirits. Barbara Ortner
Untertscherner Weg 3. 9546 Bad Kleinkirchheim. Austria
Tel. 0043-4240-760. Fax: 0043-4240-760-50.
www.world-spirits.com, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Press contact & press texts and images for download (free of charge)

“World Spirits Press Centre”:
World Spirits. Wolfram Ortner. Untertscherner Weg 3. 9546 Bad Kleinkirchheim. Austria
Tel. 0043-4240-760. Fax 0043-4240-760-50.
www.world-spirits.com. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

At the Press Centre, journalists will find information on the participants and all results (rating and description) as well as rankings and country statistics for the 2020 Award (available from 21st March)!

 © Wolfram Ortner, World Spirits, www.world-spirits.com