World Spirits Award 2023: light and shadow.9 x Awards, 11 x Spirits of the Year and 7 x Distilleries of the Year
In Courchevel/Méribel, skiers were fighting it out for precious metal – while at WSA 2023 the elite of the spirits scene was battling for titles, awards and medals. The superstars of the World Spirits Award can rightly feel like ‘world champions’. “We have painstakingly and consistently worked towards this position on the market over two decades – with constant fine-tuning when it comes to quality and innovation,” says mastermind Wolfram Ortner.
But where there is so much sparkle there are also shadows for the 2023 edition. For the first time in 20 years, a regrettable reduction in the number of regular participants was observed – whether global corporations or provincial stars. The general negative mood shows its effect here too – as always: “We will always offer the WSA participants the best service and ratings of a unique standard.”
The award celebration took place in Tramin an der Weinstraße in South Tyrol on 24 and 25 March at the Roner distillery. On 24 March there was a distillery tour through South Tyrol and Trentino, with visits to the Bertagnolli and Pojer e Sandri distilleries, as well as the Roner distillery on the Saturday. The highlights, alongside the detailed guided tours, were the commentated tasting events at the establishments: almost 40 fine spirits, fruit brandies, liqueurs, grappa, gins and brandies across the board with a regional connection.
The participants from many different parts of the world were simply overwhelmed by the reception and hospitality.
The perhaps most highly qualified jury in the world tasted 304 samples from 77 distilleries this year and rated them according to the tough but fair WSA definitions with a high degree of expertise. The best of the best were awarded the highly prized ‘World Spirits Awards’.
The quality of the tasting, the high standards of the jury and WSA’s own communication channels (Guide, Spirits Finder Apps with a channel at world-spirits.com and the TV format ‘Inside World Spirits’) are praised by the participants. The ‘Inside World Spirits’ clips are new – as it were the light version, the ‘Inside World Spirits Shots’.
With the classification of the distilleries, the World Spirits Award enjoys a special position among all the worldwide competitions. Apart from the overall medals, we also classify establishments according to their fields, as is customary, for example, for the world’s best Bordeaux wines. The differentiation ranges from ‘World Class’ to ‘First Class’ and is topped with ‘Distillery of the Year’.
The WSA superstars of 2023
After 20 years of the World Spirits Award, for the first time a whisky distillery was crowned a World Class Distillery and Distillery of the Year with gold as well as the award. The German shooting star, the St. Kilian distillery, was granted this award. The fascinating product portfolio ranges from classical and peated to cask strength and convinced the WSA jury.
A bastion in the fruit spirits and 100% distillate segment is the Moselle distillery Vallendar. Father Hubertus and son Mario complement each other at work, distilling amazing products and working out promising recipes for spirits and liqueurs. Grins is one of the few Austrian master distiller villages: apart from Bernhard Leitner, the dedicated distiller Alfred Legenstein has set a high quality standard.
The renaissance surrounding ‘egg liqueur’ is incredible. Cream liqueurs, refined with a wide range of flavour nuances into taste sensations, have fulminated this spirits concept to dizzying heights. The hype surrounding these top qualities is due to distilleries such as Gautier Mückstein, Zweiger and Horvath – all at home in Austria and also working with Austrian basic products. Cheers to the quality of the master distillers!
St. Kilian Distillers: Whisky made in Germany according to Scottish tradition
Born from the idea of building up the largest whisky distillery in Germany, the investment banker and owner Andreas Thümmler, the whisky legend David F. Hynes from Dublin and the master distiller Mario Rudolf converted their plan into reality in 2012. Four years later, it was established in Rüdenau near Miltenberg, based on the Scottish model, and within a short time the little village developed into the centre of German whisky. A willingness to experiment is a high priority. Alongside a wide variety of malt and yeast types, it also comprises way more than 300 types of barrel, where whisky can mature under ideal conditions near the distillery – amidst the pristine nature of the Odenwald forest in former NATO bunkers.
At St. Kilian, craftsmanship and tradition meet technology and innovation. Scottish washbacks and copper pot stills, coupled with German engineering skills, delivered the first distillate for barrel number 1 on Saint Patrick’s Day 2016. At the end of 2020, they succeeded in what was no doubt the most successful whisky launch in Germany: the combination of single malt whisky made in Germany with the cult figure Bud Spencer on the label. One year later, two whiskies followed with the film partner Terence Hill.
The World Class Distillery 2023 (Distillery of the Year 2023 – Gold & World Spirits Award) Whisky World received double gold for Handfilled - Single Cask Ex PX Sherry #1527 peated, St. Kilian Peated - Rich & Smoky (World-Spirits Award 2023 & Spirits of the Year 2023), Terence Hill - The Hero - Whisky (rauchig) (World-Spirits Award 2023 & Spirits of the Year 2023), gold for St. Kilian Mild & Fruity, Terence Hill Whisky Mild, Bud Spencer Whisky Mild, Bud Spencer Single Malt Whisky Smoky and Judas Priest 50 Heavy Metal Years, silver for Signature Edition Eleven and Ambassador’s Choice V, and bronze for Ambassador’s Choice VI.
St. Kilian Distillers
Distillery of the Year 2023 - Gold & World-Spirits Award / Whisky Worldwide and 2 x Spirit of the Year & Award 2023
Gautier Mückstein & Ellinger GmbH
Distillery of the Year 2023 - Gold & World-Spirits Award / Bitters & Liqueurs and 2 x Spirit of the Year 2023
Distillery of the Year 2023 - Gold & World-Spirits Award / 100-%-Distillates and 1 x Spirit of the Year 2023
Distillery of the Year 2023 - Silver / Bitters & Liqueurs and 1 x Spirit of the Year & Award 2023
Qualitätsbrennerei Alfred Legenstein
Distillery of the Year 2023 - Silver / 100-%-Distillates
Double Gold & Spirits of the Year as well as Awards 2023 for the group winners
The following distilleries received 6 World Spirits Awards for group wins and 11 Spirits of the Year as variety winner – in different categories:
Der Zweiger / Austria / Schoko-Kokos Cremelikör (World-Spirits Award 2023 & Spirit of the Year 2023)
Eifel-Destillerie P.J.Schütz / Germany / Schütz Boonekamp (World-Spirits Award 2023 & Spirit of the Year 2023)
Home of b.gin / Austria / b.gin traisental (World-Spirits Award 2023 & Spirit of the Year 2023)
Roner AG Brennereien / Italy / Z44 Special Edition (World-Spirits Award 2023 & Spirit of the Year 2023)
St. Kilian Distillers GmbH / Deutschland / St. Kilian Peated - Rich & Smoky World-Spirits Award 2023 & Spirits of the Year 2023), Terence Hill - The Hero - Whisky (rauchig) (World-Spirits Award 2023 & Spirits of the Year 2023)
Spirits of the Year 2023
Aura proizvodi d.o.o. / Croatia / Aura Limoncello (Spirit of the Year 2023)
Brennerei Hubertus Vallendar GmbH & Co KG / Germany / Alter Apfelbrand Barrique (Zigarrenbrand) (Spirit of the Year 2023)
Gautier Mückstein & Ellinger GmbH / Austria / ChocoLat Nougat (Spirit of the Year 2023), Haselnuss Likör (Spirit of the Year 2023)
Grenada Distillers Ltd / Grenada / Clark's Court Amaz-In Chocolate Cream Liqueur (Spirit of the Year 2023)
15 distilleries were classified in different categories (from fruit brandy, whisky and grappa to rum). 18 of them can enjoy the award “World Class Distillery” and 2 with “First Class Distillery.
Distilleries of the Year 2023
St. Kilian Distillers
(Distillery of the Year 2023 – Gold & World-Spirits Award) Whisky Worldwide
Gautier Mückstein & Ellinger GmbH
(Distillery of the Year 2023 – Gold & World-Spirits Award) Bitters & Liqueurs
(Distillery of the Year 2023 – Gold & World-Spirits Award) 100-%-Distillates
(Distillery of the Year 2023 – Silver) Bitters & Liqueurs
Qualitätsbrennerei Alfred Legenstein
(Distillery of the Year 2023 – Silver) 100-%-Distillates
Destillerie Hochstrasser GmbH & Co KG Distillery of the Year 2023 – Bronze (100-%-Distillates )
Horvath‘s Spezereyen Kontor
Distillery of the Year 2023 - Bronze / Bitters & Liqueurs
World-Class Distilleries 2023
Angostura Limited / Trinidad and Tobago / Rum
2 X Brennerei Vallendar / Germany / OBB, OBS
Der Zweiger / Austria / BILI
Destillerie Hochstrasser GmbH & Co KG / Austria / OBB
Eifel-Destillerie P.J.Schütz / Germany / BILI
Feinbrennerei Sasse / Germany / Korn
Gautier Mückstein & Ellinger GmbH / Austria / BILI
Grenada Distillers LTD / Grenada / Rum
Horvath's Spezereyen Kontor / Austria / BILI
Pirker GmbH / Austria / OBB
Qualitätsbrennerei Alfred Legenstein / Austria / OBB
St. Kilian Distillers / Germany / WHA
First-Class Distilleries 2023
Appenzeller Alpenbitter AG / Switzerland / BILI
Fairytale Distillery / Great Britain / GIWO
** OBB = 100% Distillates, OBS = Fruit Spirits, BILI = Bitters & Liqueurs, GIWO = Gin & Vodka, WHA = Whisky Worldwide (Category)
Medals & variety winners
77 participants and distilleries from 15 nations (islands) took part in the “World Spirits Award 2023”, submitting 450 spirits for consideration. With the presented products ranging from brandies to gin, rum, fruit spirits and 100% distillates. The results are based on the WOB 100-point evaluation system tailored to spirits; objective assessment is ensured by an international jury of tasters with many years of experience.
Distinctions are the reflection of the distillers’ work and an appreciation of perfect products. Based on the slogan “Simply the Best in Spirits”, only the best products are entered into the competition and receive excellent reviews from the strict jury.
301 medals were awarded – 20 double golds (11 of them Spirits of the Year), 171 golds, 102 silvers and 8 bronze medals. A peripheral detail: 3 products were considered faulty or too inadequate.
The results are based on the WOB 100-point evaluation system, which is specially tailored to the world of spirits. An experienced international jury of tasters ensured an objective assessment.
Aura proizvodi d.o.o. / Croatia / Aura Limoncello
Brennerei Hubertus Vallendar GmbH & Co KG / Germany / Alter Apfelbrand Barrique (Zigarrenbrand), Bananenbrand, Orangengeist
Brennerei Schulze Rötering / Germany / Münsterländer Doppelkorn
Der Zweiger / Austria / Schoko-Kokos Cremelikör, Steirischer Eierlikör aus Bio-Eiern
Eifel-Destillerie P.J.Schütz / Germany / Schütz Boonekamp
Feinbrennerei Sasse - Lagerkorn GmH / Germany / Nju Korn fruchtig
Gautier Mückstein & Ellinger GmbH / Austria / ChocoLat Nougat, Haselnuss Likör
Grenada Distillers Ltd / Grenada / Clark's Court Amaz-In Chocolate Cream Liqueur, Clark's Court Pure White
Home of b.gin / Austria / b.gin traisental
Pirker GmbH / Austria / Schwarze Johannisbeere
Qualitätsbrennerei Alfred Legenstein / Austria / Aroniabrand
Roner AG Brennereien / Italy / Z44 Special Edition
St. Kilian Distillers GmbH / Deutschland / St. Kilian Peated - Rich & Smoky, Handfilled - Single Cask Ex PX Sherry #1527 peated, Terence Hill - The Hero - Whisky (rauchig)
Facts and Figures 2023 (2022)
15 (31) Classifications
11 (12) World-Spirits Awards
3 (4) Distilleries of the Year – Gold
2 (1) Distilleries of the Year – Silver
2 (1) Distillery of the Year – Bronze
11 (13) Spirit of the Year
20 (23) Double-Gold
171 (222) Gold
102 (179) Silver
8 (19) Bronze
3 (7) Inadequate/Faults
304 (439) products overall
15 (31) Classifications
13 (18) World-Class Distilleries
0 (8) Master-Class Distilleries
2 (4) First-Class Distilleries
0 (1) Recommendend Distillery
Total 77 (120) Distilleries
© Wolfram Ortner, World Spirits, www.world-spirits.com
Brand-new 15-minute episodes, professional information and entertainment on a „spiritual“ base, celebrity and distiller talk, trip through the botanical gardens of the world, sensory assessment of the world’s best spirits, musical accompaniment by the band „Humus“. Exclusively at www.world-spirits.tv or www.worldspirits.tv respectively.
Just register, log in and watch >Media>Inside World Spirits