The tasting year 2022 started last week with the big January tasting at Meininger's International Spirits Award ISW. A total of 562 spirits from the categories brandy, grape marc spirit, fruit brandy, fruit liqueur and liqueurs of all kinds were blindly tasted and evaluated by a jury of 30 experts over two days. In the end, the best products were awarded 7x Grand Gold, 114x Gold and 48x Silver.
The first big theme tasting of the ISW in 2022 had it all: a wide range of products and categories came into the glasses of the spirits experts and was tasted blindly and independently evaluated on the basis of the proven ISW point scheme. Not an easy task, as the quality of the submitted samples was consistently very high. In addition to some exciting new discoveries, various well-known "repeat offenders" were also able to prevail in the fight for the coveted medals.
We present you the special awards of the January tasting:
Cognac of the year 2022:
Monnet Cognac XXO
This cognac from Monnet, which is particularly old with at least 14 years of maturity, convinces with wonderfully harmonious complexity. Voluminous wood tones in combination with cherry, light tobacco and a very spicy finish characterize the Monnet XXO. The artfully designed bottle looks almost pleasantly restrained by premium cognac standards.
Brandy of the year 2022:
Domaine Tariquet Pure Folle Blanche 8 Ans
In addition to the cognac, the appellations of the (bas-)Armagnac in the spirits sector often lead a shadowy existence – wrongly as this top brandy of the Château du Tariquet proves. A varietal brandy from the Folle Blanche grape, just eight years of barrel maturation and a cask strength of only 50.5% vol. result in an unparalleled symphony of taste.
Brandy de Jerez of the Year 2022:
Carlos I 1520 Gran Reserva
Spain – especially in the sherry region around Jerez – is also home to first-class brandy and hardly anyone masters the aromatic art of a Brandy de Jerez better than Bodega Osborne with its flagship Carlos I. The Carlos I 1520, on the other hand, is a blend of several centuries-old soleras that produce an inimitable full-bodied sweetness and complexity.
Grape marc spirit of the Year 2022 International:
Destilleria Sibona – Grappa Riserva Invecchiata in Botti da Sauternes
The grappa experts of Sibona have once again cleared and secured the title for the best grappa of the year. The grape marc spirit from Moscato and Brachetto grapes gets an equally long finish in former Sauternes barrels after two years of maturation in oak wood. Sweet honey and fruit notes of the white wine are perfectly balanced with the characteristic grappa dryness.
Grape marc spirit of the Year 2022 National:
Weingut Leiss – grape marc spirit
Almost everywhere where good wine is grown, there is also first-class grape marc spirit and so landed with the Württemberg winery Leiss a deserved surprise winner at the top of the national representatives. A clear and straightforward brandy that immediately presents the full freshness of the base wine to the nose and also reverberates for a long time on the palate. More of that please!
Fruit Brandy of the Year 2022 International:
Calvados Boulard X.O.
The wonderful juicy freshness of crunchy apples, paired with the soft, sweet-spicy notes of many years of oak wood storage. Normandy understands something about this and at the head of the Calvados dynasties is the House of Boulard. The X.O., which has matured for at least six years, serves as the flagship of the French cider brand and once again shows the aromatic density that stored fruit brandies can offer.
Fruit Brandy of the Year 2022 National:
Jobelius Williams Christ Pear Brandy
One should not compare apples with pears, but in terms of enjoyment, the two fruit primusse give each other the handle in the hand. The Williams Christ pear is the inspiration for first-class fruit brandy from the German-speaking world and Jobelius masters this craft perfectly. First-class raw material quality forms the second pillar for this filigree and wonderfully fragrant brand.
Fruit Spirit of the Year 2022:
Ziegler Wild Raspberry Spirit
Hats off to those who manage to defend their title in this field of competitors. The wild raspberry spirit of the Ziegler brothers has achieved this feat, which once again illustrates the absolute top quality and distillation art of the Freudenberg manufactory. A fruit spirit does not forgive mistakes and so only the very best comes here in the spirit basket and ultimately in the distinctive bottle.
Fruit Liqueur of the Year 2022 International:
Crème de Mûre Védrenne
A whopping 500 grams of fresh blackberries are in a bottle of the Crème de Mûre by Védrenne and you can taste it! Paired with a generous portion of sugar, the result is a pure-fruity aroma of jam-like blackberry, whose fine acidity is perfectly integrated. Whether in cocktails or pure, here the full taste is at the forefront.
Fruit Liqueur of the Year 2022 National:
Lantenhammer Mirabellen Liqueur
In bright orange, the mirabelle liqueur from the Bavarian Lantenhammer distillery is already visually reminiscent of the sun-drenched fruits that serve as its origin. Pleasantly sweet, juicy-aromatic and with long-lasting fresh reverberation, the basic product is perfectly integrated here and presents the noble plum Mirabelle in its pure form.
Herbal Liqueur of the Year 2022:
Almost every country has its own style of herbal and bitter liqueurs, but this year Switzerland has the edge. The Appenzeller Alpenbitter has been convincing in the tastings for years and has now finally climbed the summit. The full freshness and aromatic range of Alpine herbs comes together here and is reminiscent of the tastiest medicine imaginable.
Eggnog of the year 2022:
POTT eggnog with real overseas rum
You love it or you hate it, but eggnog undoubtedly has a large fan base. Particularly popular are eggnogs with fine rum aromas, such as those offered by the POTT eggnog. With the quite new product, the traditional rum import house has already made many new friends. Straightforward, harmonious, pleasantly creamy and with the characteristic rum note of the real overseas rum.
Liqueur of the Year 2022:
Kornbrennerei J.J. Kemper – Chocolate Whisky Liqueur
In order to get the title "Liqueur of the Year", a product has to offer a lot of something special. Whisky liqueurs have recently stood out here, adding a note to the popular taste of the basic distillate. Strong dark chocolate and aromatic rye whiskey form a perfect aromatic harmony in the chocolate whisky liqueur of the Sauerland grain distillery Kemper, which many major competitors do not achieve.
"Our ISW jury once again achieved great things over two days and filtered out the best spirits in their respective categories with a full focus on quality. The lively discussions at the table testify to the enormous professionalism and seriousness with which our expert lawyer makes its decisions. With full conviction, we can award the best spirits of the year in their respective categories and are already looking forward to the two more tasting rounds this year."
The second major tasting round of the ISW will take place from 20 to 21 April 2022 and covers the categories Gin, Vermouth, Aperitivo, non-alcoholic distillates, among others. In addition, a new edition of the "Gin & Tonic" tasting, which was successfully launched last year, will take place.