Golden start to the year at the ISW
The January tasting of Meininger's International Spirits Award (ISW) rang in the new year with the categories of wine and pomace brandies, fruit brandies and fruit spirits, and liqueurs of all kinds. A total of 595 spirits were blind tasted by the expert jury, of which 178 were awarded a medal. 11 products received Grand Gold, 155 a Gold and 12 a Silver medal.
In addition, 14 special awards were given to the best products in their respective categories. We present these to you here.
Cognac of the Year 2023
Frapin Château Fontpinot XO Premier Cru Cognac Grande Champagne AOC
From the house of Frapin comes this exceptional Grande Champagne Cognac, which may carry the rare addition "Single Vineyard Cognac". Between 15 and 20 years, the distillate, exclusively from grapes from vineyards around Château Fontpinot, was allowed to store to develop this remarkably warm-spicy variety of aromas.
Brandy of the Year 2023
Carlos I 1520
Spanish title defense for the excellent quality from the house Osborne. The sherry and brandy experts from Jerez have with the 1520 a worthy tribute to the coronation of the Spanish King Carlos I in 1520, which has also earned this year's coronation as "Brandy of the Year" and a Grand Gold Medal: elegant, multifaceted and noble, the brandy beguiles nose and palate.
German brandy of the Year 2023
Steinhauser Besonders Alter Brandy – 12 Jahre
The best Lake Constance wines and long storage in local oak wood - these are the secret ingredients for the "Besonders Alten Brandy" from the Steinhauser distillery in Kressbronn. Voluminous-Christmas aromas of dried fruit and candied orange peel merge on the palate into full-bodied wood and caramel notes with mild tobacco. A jewel of regional distilling art!
Bas-Armagnac of the Year 2023
Domaine Tariquet Plant de Graisse 18 ans
Already last year, a product of Domaine Tariquet was awarded "Brandy of the Year" and also in 2023 the quality convinces through the bank. This time, the exquisite 18-year-old Bas-Armagnac, for which only grapes of the old grape variety "Plant de Graisse" were used, is in the lead with the Grand Gold. These are known for their oily viscosity, which also gives the Armagnac a fabulously full mouthfeel.
Pomace brandy of the Year 2023
Luigi Francoli - La Visione de Luigi Grappa Riserva
Francoli has conjured up a beguiling grappa from marcs of the Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato grape varieties. The maturity harmonizes perfectly with the freshness of the distillate and produces just the right amount of wood, vanilla and cocoa notes. The secret is the temporally separated maturation first in large oak casks followed by an extensive finish in small Limousin barrels. Great gold for great grappa enjoyment.
Fruit Brandy of the Year 2023 national
Lantenhammer Marillenbrand im Rumult Fass gereift
This is where all the expertise of the Bavarian distilling experts comes together. The intensely fruity apricot brandy is aged in rum barrels that previously housed the company's own Rumult rum. Powerful notes of almonds, apricot jam and a complex finish à la rum pot let this brandy remain in the sensory memory for a long time. Another Grand Gold Medal for the medal hunters from Schliersee.
Fruit Brandy of the Year 2023 international
Boulard Calvados V.S.O.P.
In 2022, Boulard's X.O. prevailed at this point, and now even its "younger brother" has succeeded in making it big. The aromatic cider brandy was allowed to age for four to ten years before it was released as Calvados V.S.O.P. to delight connoisseurs. Fruity freshness combines with aromas of roasted nuts, a little brioche, as well as ripe vanilla and baked apple. Calvados at its best - awarded with a Grand Gold Medal!
Fruit spirit of the Year 2023
The Roner distillery in South Tyrol is known far beyond the borders of Italy for first-class fruit brandies and you can taste that immediately in the forest raspberry spirit. Clear, fine fruity notes are immediately present on the nose and also echo on the palate for a long time. The copper distillation bubble and a storage in stainless steel tanks for one year accomplish this clean harmony.
Egg liqueur of the Year 2023
Birkenhof Eierlikör – verfeinert mit einem Hauch Himbeere
The Birkenhof distillery on the edge of the Westerwald once again surprises with a composition bordering on perfection. The velvety-creamy egg liqueur with subtle vanilla sweetness provides the optimal mouthfeel to convince rows of connoisseurs. The icing on the cake, however, is the touch of raspberry that the addition of the in-house raspberry distillate gives the liqueur. Well-deserved Grand Gold!
Spice liqueur of the Year 2023
Echter Nordhäuser Ingwerlikör
In this liqueur composition of the variety experts of Nordbrand Nordhausen simply everything is right. The pleasant spiciness of fresh ginger conveys a hint of Asian refinement, while the harmonizing sweetness resonates with hints of candied fruit and honey wafers. The golden color of the beguiling liqueur gives the excellent direction.
Herbal liqueur of the Year 2023
Gurktaler – Der milde Alpenkräuter
59 aromatic alpine herbs form the basis for this mild-tart herbal liqueur. A large part is grown directly in the Gurktaler organic herb garden of the cathedral monastery there on 8,000 m² and harvested by hand. A special feature of the Gurktaler is that fresh, sometimes rare herbs are also used to give the liqueur its intense flavor.
Fruit liqueur of the Year 2023 national
Ziegler No. 1 Wildkirschlikör
The wild cherries used here have little but very aromatic pulp. More than 7 kg are needed for a 0.35 l bottle, harvested by so-called "cone pickers" at dizzying heights and distilled to perfection in Freudenberg. The sweetness only comes to the fore in the finish; before that, the uniquely tart, fruity aroma of the wild cherry liqueur shines.
Fruit liqueur of the Year 2023 international
Limoncino Originale di Sorrento
The color shines a bit more sunny yellow, but on paper, the Big Gold stands for this value-for-money hit. The Limoncino di Sorrento is mainly produced for the discount chain Lidl, which does not diminish the quality of the lemon liqueur in the slightest. The aromatic peels of the Ovali lemons from the Sorrento region near Naples bring an inimitable freshness, coupled with restrained sweetness, to the bottle. This is what summer tastes like!
Liqueur of the Year 2023
Sibona Liquore alla Camomilla
Distilleria Sibona has been proving its skills in the competition for many years and the chamomile liqueur has already dusted off medals several times; now the Italian liqueur specialty succeeds in the really big hit: "Liqueur of the Year" can only be called who really does not miss anything in terms of quality and finesse. The essential oils of Roman chamomile provide both a heavenly fragrance and a rich, impressive mouthfeel. Grand gold with ease!
Director Degustation Christian Wolf draws a satisfied conclusion from the January tasting:
"We are glad that our three-part format is so well received also in the second year, both by the producers and the expert jury. The focus on a few categories allowed us to attract even more specifically proven experts for the jury. Fortunately, the level of the samples submitted did not disappoint the jury - on the contrary, once again an impressive cross-section of aromatic diversity was on offer. We are looking forward to seeing what the next dates in April and June will have to offer."
The next ISW tasting will take place on April 18 and 19, as well as on June 27 and 28, 2023. In April, the focus will be on gin and juniper spirits, aperitifs, vermouth, absinthe, tequila and other spirits, as well as the trend category of non-alcoholic distillates. In June, everything will then focus on whisk(e)y, rum, vodka, grain and other grain spirits. June will also include the big Gin & Tonic Tasting. Only gins that were awarded in the April tasting will be admitted to the event.