ISW October Tasting: grain spirits

Aroma diversity around vodka and grain at the ISW

In October, Meininger's International Spirits Award was dedicated to a long-established underdog of the spirits world. A good 80 different vodka, grain and other grain spirits were tasted blind as usual and judged according to the ISW scheme. Of these, 16 were awarded a gold medal and eleven a silver medal.

Grain and vodka showed at the ISW tasting in October that the qualities are clearly better than the unjustly sometimes existing image of the two categories would suggest.

Contrary to popular belief, the grain category presented itself with an unexpected variety of flavours and varieties. Alternative grains such as emmer, spelt and rye are increasingly overtaking wheat as a raw material, while innovative barrel storage can give a distillate a ripe, voluminous finish.

In the case of vodka, even other raw materials besides grain are permitted and promote the flavour diversity of the "little water". Small craft businesses that distil their basic alcohol themselves and in small batches can create excitement and enjoyable aromas even in crystal-clear vodka with subtle nuances.

The special awards go to two companies that produce first-class products with a lot of love and a clear approach to quality:

Vodka of the Year 2021
Cobalte Vodka Terroir Original Raisins de France French grapes, Champagne Gosset

The vodka of the year comes from France - and not just anywhere, but from Champagne. Fittingly, it is not based on grain, but on grapes as the raw material for distillation. This fine terroir vodka comes from the house of Gosset, distilled from the classic Champagne grape varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. A fivefold distillation in Alambique stills produces a mild vodka that nevertheless shows its fine fruity origin. Clear and deserved gold!

Grain of the Year 2021
DER KLEINE LORD N° 6 Spelt Grain, Ehringhausen Distillery

The Münsterland is the epicentre of grain tradition and likewise the modern distilling culture has developed here around the original German grain brandy. The Ehringhausen distillery is at the forefront of this development and has already brought several top-quality bottlings made from different types of grain onto the market with its series "Der kleine Lord" (The Little Lord). With No. 6 - a spelt grain that was allowed to mature in a Banyuls barrel for over six years - they have once again achieved a masterpiece. The rare French sweet wine provides the perfect stage for the spicy spelt; the result convinces with aromas of creamy cocoa and fully ripe cherries and is pleasantly mild despite a proud 57.4% vol. True to the distillery motto: "Grain can do more!"

The tasters and spirits experts of the ISW also draw a positive conclusion:

"The quality of the tasted samples was high across the board, and in addition to a lot of rock-solid distilling art, we were also able to get to know one or two pieces of aromatic excellence. Banyuls barrels, for example, were previously unknown to me - you only come into contact with such exciting exotics at ISW. It has nothing in common with the kippers from the supermarket," says ISW jury member and fizzz editor Tim Allgaier about his perception of the tasting.

All results can be found on the ISW site:


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.


Press contact:
Nicole Zeisset
Meininger Verlag GmbH
Maximilianstr. 7-15
67433 Neustadt/Germany
Tel.: +49 6321 89 08 94
E-Mail: [email protected]


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