18 Years World Spirits Award
Der World-Spirits Award - Simply the best in Spirits
The mission: To establish, as the world's best competition with a distillery classification, an assessment standard that sets the ultimate benchmark in the world of spirits.
The objective: As a respected reflection of quality for producers and consumers, to fairly judge spirits from all over the world, taking into account their origin and tradition.
The system: To compile reproducible results and precise verbal descriptions using the transparent, accurate 100-point WOB evaluation system.
The jury: Perfection as the driving force for ongoing further training in the members' own interests, with regular taster training sessions as the basis for product and quality definitions.
The academy: Master of World Spirits training with checks of the individual's sensory performance enhances the scope of their knowledge and is the basic criterion for selection to the jury.
The person: Former world-class sportsman Wolfram Ortner lives and breathes the World-Spirits Award and knows the factors for success - performance, quality, transparency, fairness and self-assessment.
The vision: Simply the best in spirits - the World-Spirits Award is incomparable and always ahead of its time!
Simply the best in Spirits: WORLD-SPIRITS AWARD
A. The short version for a quick overview
B. WSA: The new benchmark in the World of Spirits
C. The system of the World Spirits Award
D. Awards and classification
E. The „World Sprits Festival"
F. The „Who is Who" of the WSA
H. Preview/ Contact
B. The new benchmark in the world of spirits
18 years ago the starting signal was given for the first World Spirits Award, in short WSA: Wolfram Ortner, mastermind and organiser, started with the spirits award and fair "Destillata" after seven years of basic work and experience to create the best competition and independent quality assessment system in the spirits scene. With his unruly will for perfection, persistent consequence and consistent uncompromisingness in terms of quality, Ortner has established one of the leading competitions.The results of a participant survey confirmed that he has achieved a quantum leap forward so to speak and succeeded in the quality assessment and development leaving comparable events miles behind.
Independency, competency and transparency are basic values of the WSA and have led to the highest appreciation in the spirits trade.
Unique worldwide: "real" classifications can be found only with the WSA
When other events concentrate on awarding and award many a title on the basis of some successful samples, the WSA is in the position to provide classifications on a purely solid basis of individual products as well as distilleries - with 100% comprehensible results. "With our event we are ten years ahead of the market", Ortner sees himself confirmed. "Insiders have been speaking for a long time of the WSA as the inofficial World Championship and of the measure of all things in the world of spirits".
The world's best jury and unique valuation system make the difference
The secret of the WSA lies in the unsurpassed quality of the jury, based on their meticulous training and the unique underlying system of assessment. Furthermore, the results are provided not only as assessment in points with five valuation criteria but additionally as comprehensible verbalised facts - a most welcome help for assessment not only for the consumers but above all for the presentors themselves! And, the product is assessed only as a snapshot in its present condition - dubious forecasts are not provided.
"Even if other events are cheaper at first sight producers could have to pay dearly for their participation", Ortner explained, "Concerning valuations according to the random principle good products can also fall through and distilleries suffer serious image damage. It is high time for a change of thinking - and this process of rethinking has already begun thanks to the WSA!"
Quality rather than quantity
500 samples from 100 distilleries from all over the world was the aim when founding the WSA. More is not seriously feasible with the high requirements on the judgement of the jury and the general level of the event, as the concept of the system is quality!
This means in practice: if up to 1,600 samples are handled by 30 to 35 tasters within 2 days at other events, 7 rigorously trained tasters taste only about 50 samples per day at the WSA.
Since its foundation in 2004 the WSA has been in a state of slow but constant growth. The number of samples, products, categories, participating countries and distilleries has increased in small steps as well as the amount of awards, always benefitting the quality. At the same time the faith in the fair assessment considering tradition and origin has resulted in a global participation and corresponding expansion of categories - e.g. with China's Baijiu and Moutai. In 2012 the WSA reached a level of 400 samples from 75 distilleries.
The three sections of World Spirits:
The "World Spirits Award" - the global competition and classification
The "World Spirits Festival" - the presentation of the WSA participants at the GAST in Klagenfurt, Austria
The "World Spirits Academy" - the "mental" training centre where jury members and experts acquire their unique competency in assessing spirits from the Basic Class via the Master Class up to the "Master of World Spirits".
Why the WSA jury is probably the best in the world
WSA jury members must not only achieve an impeccable sensory performance,
they are also responsible for giving a comprehensible product assessment towards the producers.
Comprehensible results are not based on the random principle – they are the result of a meticulous training and tough checks which make the WSA jury the best in the world. The competency of this jury is unmatched worldwide and everybody without exception who wants to have a say in the WSA jury must undergo the sophisticated training programme – even professional tasters and experienced sensory assessors are trained towards the sophisticated quality standards and system of the WSA – just like pilots are trained for bigger and sophisticated aircraft.
Most of the WSA tasters have been cooperating with Wolfram Ortner for years and are sought-after judges at many other international and national tastings as well.
However, since examiners „retire" at the age of 60 – at this point of time their sensory capability begins to fade naturally, a dedicated mentoring programme was initiated.
In order to allow the comprehensive and expensive training for young junior tasters, patrons from the world of business take over individual mentorings – a clear sign of appreciation and trust which in the meantime renowned producers show the WSA Academy.
The training and valuation system
1. Taster training – the basis for transparent valuation
Within the World Spirits Academy – after completing the basic training – several one-day taster trainings concerning the individual categories are conducted in the course of one year.
The first part deals with the products: with the respective background information among other about the origin and production, they are tasted, assessed and defined, and a „World Spirits Ranking" is compiled. Beside the large categories such as Cognac, Grappa/ Marc, Rum, Whisk(e)y etc., the tasters devote themselves to the definition of products made from different types of fruit such as Apple, Pear or Cherry brandies. Due to the global charisma of the WSA more and more exotic specimens find their way into the WSA system – e.g. samples from countries such as China, Vietnam and India are also included. In this training block more than 20 products are discussed and assessed.
2. Checks: 70% hit ratio as a minimum for the jury
The second part of the training is a blind check with 40 samples. The task is to recognise spirits and their flaws, scale the intensity and typicality of a fruit or a flaw as well as recognise and value six products of the day's subject including a determination of origin.
Whereby the stakes are high for the examinees: they are only allowed to deviate three points from the collectively developed ranking. Only those who have achieved a hit ratio of more than 70% - and all this during several checks and many years of positive results in practice – is entitled to participate in the WSA jury!
3. The WSA valuation pattern – instrument for objective assessment
The valuation takes place according to Wolfram Ortner's Spirits System – a 100-point system especially tailored for spirits with five valuation criteria: from (-) flawed/ very weak, 10 points to (++) exceptional, 20 points.
The criteria value aroma and taste respectively according to typicality/ intensity and cleanliness/ flaws as well as general harmony. All valuation criteria are explained separately in written form and communicated in technically correct English or German to the presentor.
4. The tasting itself
Peace and time are important requirements for a correct assessment – one reason for the quantative restriction of samples to 500. Per day only 50 samples are tasted by 7 tasters and the sensory performance during the tasting monitored permanently.
• Each taster receives 4 covered glasses with a consistent temperature of 18°C.
• Each taster prepares his individual judgement in abbreviations and subsequent point computation without comparing the samples.
• The individual judgement is then controlled again with the empty glass and corrected if necessary.
• When preparing the group's result, deviations are dealt with and flawed products tasted again.
Each product is always valued parallel by three teams whereby one team consisting of two persons submits a joint group valuation. Thereby at least one of the team tasters is a specialist in the respective variety who can guarantee the expertise, while his team partner ensures the sensitive sensory assessment for the team's valuation.
The seventh person in the team is an assistant who assesses him/herself – this valuation has the status of a team – analyses the valuation sheets, controls the work of the jury and decides together with the organiser in cases of doubt.
5. The basis: the „Bible" of the world of spirits
The basis of all jury assessments is codified in a manual, the actual „Bible" of the WSA – and thus of the entire world of spirits. All knowledge, all definitions and experiences are entered into this manual which is constantly growing. It is alive and growing not only with each jury training but also with every single one of the numerous educational tours of Wolfram Ortner. These „Spirit Tours" guarantee that local colour and different cultures are integrated into the valuation pattern. As the brand already says, the World Spirits Award is the only global spirit award which does not stand for a certain market but which feels obliged to the entire world – the WSA's objective is to assess all spirits with due respect around the whole globe.
„Spiritual Tours" lasting weeks around Europe or to China, Latin America and South Africa are on Wolfram Ortner's programme every year. What at first sight looks attractive is in reality rock-hard work where Ortner visits at the most five distilleries per day, learns about production processes and tastes products.
All these experiences are registered and passed on to the participants and jury members at the World Spirits Academy.
On the basis of these products empirical values are discussed, defined and harmonised with the „measuring stick" of the WSA-understanding and the aspiration of treating each and every product - even an exotic one - respectfully. Whereby the ultimate aim is to become part of the manual for all WSA-tasters and WSA participants.
But Ortner also lets the public take part in his spiritual border crossings: prepared for the press or in his own media such as www.worldspirits.com anybody who is interested can participate in his experiences.
Award of the best spirits
The WSA honours on an annual basis: the best products of different varieties (Spirit of the Year with at least Double-Gold, whereby the award is geared to the number of presentations per variety), groups or variety groups respectively (World Spirits Award) and categories (World Spirits Award).
The World Spirits Award goes in each case to the producer of the product of a group with the most points (e.g. fruit brandy „Pipfruit" or fruit brandy „Stone Fruit" etc.) and to the best distillery of a category. Whereby the award always depends on the number of products or distilleries respectively.
The product of each category with the most points is awarded the title „Best in Category" – provided sufficient products were presented in the category.
The WSA distillery classification
Only the WSA determines real classifications according to a standard which has long been a tradition with wine estates e.g. in Bordeaux. Admittedly other events also award titles, this however is done on a basis which is orientated towards some successful samples and reflects little real quality.
With the WSA ALL presented products are assessed whereby the distiller has to present at least five products in three groups in one category – and of course may present products in several categories.
The WSA classifications extend from „World Class Distillery" (92-100 points) to „Recommended Distillery" (80-84 points).
The three distilleries per category with the most points receive beside the assessment according to the valuation system in points in addition the title „World Spirits Distillery of the Year" in gold, silver and bronze. This is a coveted marketing tool which is well reflected as a bottle sticker, in press releases and promotion activities and which is also launched worldwide appropriately in the media by the WSA.
As a platform to present products the festival is a real feast for all senses which is appreciated by many participants for the relaxed gathering and for its value as permanent and honest further training as well.
It takes place every year within the tourism fair GAST in Klagenfurt (Carinthia/ Austria) and offers several free presentation opportunities without any mandatory participation:
Table presentation: products can be presented with little effort to representatives of the catering industry above all from the Alps-to-Adriatic Region.
Spirit-Bar: the third bottle of the presented products is presented by the WSA on a single table within the festival.
The benefits that each participant can expect at the World Spirits Festival:
• Exchange of experience
• Initiation of business or sale respectively
• Maintenance of contacts
• And last but not least: further training
The concept of the common spirit that the festival breathes, forges the exhibitors to a congenial and open family – always in search of a common way forward to improve the culture of spirits and increase sales.
Quality leads to performance, performance has a price tag
The WSA is not cheap compared to other events. However, this event is without comparison. Nowhere else do we taste and assess with such high quality standards and with so much effort. Nobody else provides such comprehensible and serious valuations and classifications.
This high effort has its high (appropriate) price – and this is settled with the presentation of the first variety with the WSA that costs 895,00 euro. Every additional variety per distillery or brand amounts then to only 195,00 euro.
Beside the precise tasting and verbal assessment (in German and English) the participant receives an attractive marketing package which is automatically included in his participation. It includes intense and regular press relations not only within the WSA but continuously during the whole year. It also includes the preparation of a company portrait in English and German, the publication in the WSA Guide and WSA Spirits Finder, presentation and public relations within the World Spirits Festival, the right of use with the brand and much more.
The WSA Makers
No question – Wolfram Ortner is the „mastermind" behind the WSA. But without his wife Barbara the operation WSA would not be where it is today. Both live for spirits and everything that has to do with this subject. They operate a distillery in the Nock Region in Carinthia and are competent in all organisational and journalistic sectors. Ortner's background as a top athlete – he was one of the best slalom aces of his time – shaped him: he knows the success factors such as performance, quality, transparency, fairness, self-control and perseverance. If skiing was his life in earlier times, then today it is the WSA. Wolfram Ortner not only lives the WSA, he IS the WSA - with all his flesh and blood.
The participating nations: something spiritual from all over the world
Producers from all over Europe such as France, Great Britain, Ireland, naturally the organising country Austria and its neighbouring countries from Germany to Italy. Globally represented are countries such as Australia, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA, Vietnam and (island) states such as Fiji, Guadeloupe, Grenada, St. Lucia, Seychelles and Mauritius.
The participating distilleries: small or big – the common denominator is quality
The list of participants in the WSA is very close to the „Who is Who" in the world of spirits – the slogan „Simply the best in Spirits" is not without reason.
Here an extract of the participating distilleries – irrespective of name and size:
Alltech's Lexington Brewing & Distilling, Appleton Jamaica Rum, Armagnac Samalens, Arnold Dettling, Asbach, ASM, Averna, Babco, Bacardi Martini, Bodegas Osborne, Brennerei Hubertus Vallendar, Brokers Gin, Camus Cognac, Capovilla, CCU, Château du Tariquet, CLS Remy Contreau, Cognac Ferrand, Destileria Serralles, Destillerie Franz Bauer, Destillerie Hochstrasser, Destillerie Nicolini, Destillerie WOB Wolfram Ortner, Diageo Brands, Diwisa, Domaine du Coquerel, Feindestillerie Kössler, Fruchtbrennerei Tinnauer, Garagenbrenner Wöhrer, Gebhard Hämmerle Privatbrennerei, Grenada Distillers, Herman Jansen Beverages Nederland, Inner Circle Distillery, Jim Beam Brands, John Dewar & Sons, Laubade et Domaines Associés, Maass-Brand, Maker's Mark, Metaxa, Michelehof, Moutai Kweichow, Nannoni Grappe, Pap és Pap, Pitu, Pemberton Distillery, Pfanner, S. Fassbind, Semper idem Underberg, Southern Cape Vineyards, St. Lucia Distillers, Tesseron, Tamborine Mountain Distillery, United Spirits Limited, Zwack Unicum.
The feedback from participants
A statement which is representative of many positive reactions:
Toni Eberhard of Dettling Company, repeatedly awarded participant:
„We have been taking part in the WSA since the beginning in 2004. The secret of our success is the product quality and the participation in the WSA for many years.This means that we can now reap our „economic fruits" in difficult times. Continuity in participating and our own marketing are the magic words"!
On the WSA website www.world-spirits.com the video feature „Talk 1" with a sequence of statements by participants can be found on the Media-Channel.
„World Spirits" also considers itself a pr-agency which is active not only during the time of the WSA but throughout the entire year for the participants and in the broader sense for the whole spirits industry. The results and company portraits are communicated in the digital sector on the website www.world-spirits.com in the Online Guide as well as in the Spirits Finder and in the print sector „World Spirits Guide".
Permanent editorial work for the international press and media partners all over the world and press documentations on www.world-spirits.com bear witness to the quality and professionality of the communication work of the WSA.
The WSA means of communication
The official „World Spirits" website has been redesigned and and not only revised but also provided with helpful features. The highlights are the Online Guide, the Spirits Finder and the Media Channel.
The Spirits Finder is a database with the results of all taster trainings and the products tasted at the annually conducted WSA. The tool enables the easy search for producers or products and provides furthermore the comparison of results of a product at different tastings.
New domains: www.wsaward.com or www.wspirits.com or www.world-spirits.com
World Spirits Guide and Online Guide
The ultimate Print Guide with all results of the Awards 2012, tips and interesting information all about spirits can be ordered for 7,00 euro. The Online Guide with more than 15,000 addresses (with focus on distilleries, the catering industry, trade and equipment) can be booked at the annual subscription price of 22,00 euro on: www.world-spirits-guide.com
Preview, information & bookings
Throughout the year Wolfram Ortner organises taster trainings of the Master Class within the „World Spirits Academy". The „World Spirits 2014" with the „Award and Festival" will take place from 16th to 19th March at the GAST in Klagenfurt again.
World-Spirits . Barbara Ortner
Untertscherner Weg 3 . 9546 Bad Kleinkirchheim . Austria
Tel. 0043-4240-760, Fax 0043-4240-760-50
Press contact & press releases and pictures for free download respectively
World-Spirits . Wolfram Ortner . Untertscherner Weg 3 . 9546 Bad Kleinkirchheim . Austria . Tel. 0043-4240-760, Fax 0043-4240-760-50