Low/no and alternative drinks judging process

Judging process

Achieving an IWSC award isn't easy, but that's what makes the medal so well respected

We run a tightly structured, rigorous tasting process. We use the ‘double-blind’ method, which means samples are tasted in pre-poured numbered glasses to ensure our experts never see a bottle. Each drink is judged by a whole panel in sync, allowing for group discussions.

Disabled due to cookie preferences

To enable all content please accept '3rd party media' cookies.

Our points of difference

1. We have our own secure cellars for storage of drinks
2. Every label is closely checked to ensure correct categorisation
3. Samples are served in numbered glasses to guarantee anonymity
4. Judging panels are made up of a balanced mix of experts from a diverse range of sectors drawn from over 30 countries
5. Our experts assess ~65 samples through the course of the day; this allows judges plenty of time to taste each drink and avoids palate fatigue
6. All gold-awarded drinks are re-tasted by a member of the independent Judging Committee to give the final seal of approval
7. In order to promote your drinks to the right audience, we ask for full details of the distribution channels of all drinks entered into the IWSC, along with their end market – on-trade, off-trade or multinational

Our experts

IWSC judges are world-renowned experts from across the global drinks trade. Many judges are also distillers/producers themselves, providing a unique opportunity for independent peer feedback.

Our independent judging committee meets once a quarter to maintain the utmost integrity, accuracy and impartiality during the judging process.

Meet our experts

Disabled due to cookie preferences

To enable all content please accept '3rd party media' cookies.

Why do we need two samples?

We want to ensure that if a drink is faulty or damaged we can serve a fresh sample to avoid any of your drinks getting an unfair score.

In addition, if your drink is put forward for a trophy, we will use one of the extra bottles in these judging sessions. We also often promote top-rated drinks at trade and consumer events throughout the year.

Low/no and alternative drinks scoring system







An excellent drink with an exceptional balance and rare and complex flavours. An example that stand out against its peers.

An accomplished drink with good balance, strong character and good complexity. A classic example of its category style.

A perfectly well-made drink which provides an enjoyable drinking experience. A good reflection of the category style.