ISW May Tasting: Aperitivos and non-alcoholic distillates 2021

Perfect drinks for the summer: ISW awards the best aperitivos, vermouths and non-alcoholic distillates / Bodega Lustau shines with vermouth / Asbach can also be an aperitif / Non-alcoholic spirits convincing  

Summer can come, because thanks to the May tasting of the renowned Meininger’s International Spirits Award ISW, you can now navigate unerringly through the world of aperitifs, vermouths and the still quite new realms of non-alcoholic distillates. Around 120 different products ended up in the glasses of the jury during the tasting, which tasted and judged the products on the basis of the tried-and-tested ISW scheme and also described them in sensory detail. 

The varied tasting confirmed trends that had already emerged in previous years: Great Vermouths and bitter aperitifs have long since ceased to be a purely southern European domain, and in the wake of the ongoing gin hype a refreshingly large number of highly aromatic, stable and varied alternatives are emerging that convincingly deliver on their non-alcoholic promise of enjoyment. The jury, consisting of spirits experts, distillers and bar professionals, therefore awarded a total of 18 gold and 18 silver medals to the products submitted, four of which also received a special award for outstanding quality in their respective categories.

Non-alcoholic distillate of the Year 2021: Laori Juniper No. 01

The full aroma of a classic juniper-oriented gin – without any alcohol at all? The gold award-winning Laori Juniper No. 01 proves how well this can go together. Gin-typical botanicals such as juniper, rosemary and cardamom, individually distilled in steam and fabulously combined here provide an alcohol-free benchmark that almost goes beyond the attribute “gin alternative”. Because: Those who perform like this stand for themselves.

Vermouth of the Year 2021: Lustau Vermut Rosé

When it comes to sherry, Bodega Lustau is a legend, and when it comes to vermouth, the Spaniards are no match for anyone else. Since 2019, they have been consistently awarded gold at the ISW – for all their qualities, by the way – and in 2021 there was no way around the Lustau Vermut Rosé. However, it prevailed only by a hair’s breadth against the red and white competition, which, however, comes from the same house. Three ISW gold medals and one Vermouth of the Year are the proud achievements of Bodega Lustau in 2021, which has thus raised the bar a little higher for the future.

Aperitif of the Year 2021 national: Hugo Asbach Aperitif Rosé

In Germany, too, the art of the cultivated aperitif is now well understood. With almost 130 years of wine and distillation experience behind it, the traditional house of Asbach is proving just how good it is by winning this special prize with its Hugo Asbach Aperitif Rosé, in addition to a gold medal. Rosé wines from the Rhine region combined with the company’s own brandies and herbs such as vermouth and elderflower extract – this is how German aperitifs are made at top international level.   

Aperitif of the Year 2021 international: Nonino Aperitivo Botanical Drink

The name Nonino stands not only for outstanding grappa from Friuli, but also for excellent fruit brandies, liqueurs and aperitifs. This is impressively demonstrated by the Aperitivo Botanical Drink, which is produced on the basis of pomace brandy and has been awarded ISW Gold. It delights with fresh, citrus-floral and slightly fruity notes as well as a balanced bitterness. 100 percent natural and just as sure to be an excellent choice for the sunny moments in life.

“Aperitif is the top trend of the hour and our tasting has again brought great things to light here. It is true that ISW showed that countries like Spain, France and Italy can always rely on their tradition and traditional knowledge. But what is growing up here in terms of vermouth and aperitif is not only stylistically exciting, but above all enormously refreshing in terms of quality,” tasting director Christian Wolf draws an enthusiastic conclusion and adds: “Sometimes it’s almost like watching children learn to walk. A good two years ago, the trial-and-error principle still applied to many non-alcoholic distillates. Now, however, we have once again seen how eager distillers can be to learn and develop, because non-alcoholic spirits have outgrown their infancy, perform stably and are extremely appealing aromatically. There’s a whole new, exciting world opening up right now.”

The next themed tasting will take place at the end of June, when for the first time in the history of ISW the jury will leave the field of spirits tasted neat and turn its attention to gin & tonic. How do different gins develop in different tonic variations and which combinations deserve the title “Perfect Match”? In June, we’ll tell you!

An overview of all medal winners of the May tasting can be found at: https://www.meininger.de/en/spirits/tastings/international-spirits-awar…

About Meininger’s International Spirits Award ISW
The international spirits competition was launched 18 years ago by Meininger Verlag. Until 2020, spirits experts from all over the world gathered once a year in Neustadt an der Weinstraße to taste and evaluate spirits of all kinds from all over the world. With the new orientation towards a monthly, theme-specific tasting format, the competition guarantees an even more detailed tasting and assessment of the submitted spirits by a proven jury of experts, now focusing specifically on special spirits categories.

Meininger’s International Spirits Award ISW is one of the most important spirits competitions in the world today. With its tasting methodology, the competition sets new standards in the field of spirits evaluation. Based on the international 100-point scheme, the spirits are not evaluated comparatively, but individually according to appearance, smell and taste by a jury of experts without knowledge of the producer. In addition, the competition describes each tasted spirit sensorially in terms of the aromas and attributes typical of the respective competition category. From this, an aroma diagram is created that is comprehensible and understandable for distillers and consumers and gives a first impression of the flavour of the spirit.

Founded in 1903 in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Meininger Verlag is one of the oldest German specialist publishers. The company specialises in particular in the wine and spirits sector. Internationally, Meininger Verlag has made a successful name for itself with the MUNDUS VINI Grand International Wine Award. In addition to well-known trade magazines, the media company organises trade fairs, industry events and trade congresses. The portfolio of Meininger Verlag also includes FINEST SPIRITS in Munich, the trade fair for premium spirits with an international festival character.

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