IWSC reveals the 2024 Alternative Drinks medal results

Alternative drinks

Wed 29 May 2024

By Mila Gorchakova

Following our Alternative Drinks Judging on 23 – 24 May, we are delighted to reveal the medal results. Over 60 international judges gathered at the tasting tables, with a strong representation of industry-leading Sommeliers, Buyers, Bartenders and Communicators. The judging panels were overseen by the members of IWSC Judging Committee: Shannon Tebay was in charge of RTD, Vermouth, and Wine-based flavoured drinks panels; while Claire Warner oversaw Low & No, Lighter alcohol and Mixers panels.

IWSC 2024 Alternative Drinks highlights

  • Just shy of 800 entries have been judged by over 60 international experts – Buyers, Sommeliers, Mixologists, Bartenders and Communicators.
  • Over 700 medals have been awarded across categories, including over 50 golds.
  • The RTD category has once again proven that it is here to stay, showing high quality and diversity of entries. The RTDs received nearly 190 medals including just shy of 20 golds.
  • Low & No wine entries showed the rise in quality with over 100 medals awarded.
  • Sparkling low & no wines particularly stood out to the judges. A sparkling Shiraz was the highest scoring entry of our Alternative Drinks Judging – 98 points and a gold.
  • Vermouths shone this year with over 50 medals awarded including 8 golds.

Low & No Wine

Our judges were pleased to see that the number of entries continues to rise in this exciting category. The IWSC Judging Committee member Claire Warner, who oversaw the Low & No judging, highlighted that the category is getting closer to offering “a wine-like experience”.“What we saw in many of the wines is that they are complex enough to stand up to food - a really great shift from previous years. We’ve made a real distinction between wines that are dealcoholised and wines that are produced without fermentation, it may sound like a small technicality, but it makes a big difference in terms of the quality and experience of those liquids".

Over 100 medals were awarded to dealcoholised and alcohol-free wines and wine alternatives. The Low & No sparkling wines really shone this year. Our judges were pleased to see a lot more elegant and sophisticated flavours coming through.  

The showstopper among the low & no bubbles was Edenvale Beverages Premium Reserve Sparkling Shiraz NV. The wine earned a gold medal and a stellar 98 points from our judges who admired the “varietal typicity, nice mouthfeel and exceptional drinkability. This is the standard and as the rest of the category evolve to this level it will be very interesting indeed.”

Two more golds went to low & no sparkling wines – Lea Winery Franc Lizer Blanc De Blancs NV and Australian Vintage Not Guilty Prosecco NV.


Low & No Spirits

Our judges appreciated the breadth of entries this year and the increase of the baseline quality among the low & no spirits.

“We've seen more creativity in the way the entries have been produced and great use of techniques to produce flavours. Year-on-year, it's clear there's been an improvement. It's clear to see that we've moved beyond artificial only and the flavours being delivered are either authentic, or at least closer to the true representation of what they are, either in nature or in other distilled spirits,” said Claire Warner.

With a variety of flavours on show, choosing the standout low & no spirits was a challenging task, shared the judges, who were particularly impressed with an Amaro Alternative. Dr Zero Zero Amarno earned a strong gold and an impressive 97 points, the judges describing it as a “stunning amaro, rich, with a beautifully balanced bitterness”.


This relatively new category has once again proven that it is here to stay, impressing our judges with the quality and diversity of entries. The RTDs received nearly 190 medals including just shy of 20 golds. Our experts praised the producers’ desire to innovate and experiment.

“We had strong examples in the classic cocktail category, but I was really pleased with the improvement across the category at large, and more experimental playful combinations that were more refined than they had been in the past,” noted Shannon Tebay, our Judging Committee member who oversaw the RTD category.

One of the examples of these “playful combinations” was a boozy banana milkshake - Lacey's Banana Milkshake by Continental Wine & Food Limited. The cocktail blew our judges away earning a gold medal: “It shows in the RTD category, it’s ok to be experimental and playful and really have fun with it, that is the space for brands to do that, and if they do it well it will not go unnoticed by our judges.”

The lucky panel tasting the Strawberry Daiquiris exclaimed that they were their “top flight of the day!” One of the gold-winning standouts was Asda’s Extra Special Strawberry Daiquiri.

Margaritas also performed exceptionally well with a great variation of styles on show, proving that this is one of the fastest-growing RTD categories. Four gold medals went to Margarita RTDs, including Diageo Astral Margarita, Wonderland Cocktail Co Classic Margarita, Marks & Spencer Margarita and Mirror Margarita. The judges admired the fresh citrusy notes and the pronounced agave character of these cocktails.

Vodka-based RTDs also performed well, the judges were particularly impressed with SKYY Vodka & Soda Lime & Mint by Gruppo Campari, awarding it a gold and raving about the “lovely fresh zesty lime on the nose, mint on the finish, refreshing and bright character”.

Classic cocktails with a twist didn't fail to impress, one of them being the gold-winning Salted Caramel Espresso Martini by Melbourne Martini: “Restrained coffee with caramel coming through and finishing with the salt. Nice body and spice.”


Mixers & Cordials

Our judges praised the innovation happening in this category, noting that producers are using flavours that you wouldn’t expect to see in a mixer, adding another layer of choice for consumers at home or in bars.

Over 20 medals were awarded to mixers and cordials, including two golds. The standouts included Franklin & Sons Pineapple & Almond Soda which delighted our judges with its unusual but harmonious flavour profile, and Air Mary Bloody Mary Spice Mix by Sweet&Chilli - a perfect addition to an all-time favourite cocktail.

Non-alcoholic Beers

Non-alcoholic beers showed consistent quality across the board with no entries left without a medal this year.

“Beer continues to be a huge low/no category, and again, there’s been more improvement in this area too. We saw a lot more stouts and IPAs and so many more lagers as well; some more white beers too. There's just more choice for the consumer now which is great and shows how far the category as a whole has come in such a short time,” said Claire Warner who lead the low & no beer tasting.

One of the highlights of the judging was Nirvana Brewery Cloudy Lemon Lager that earned a high silver and 94 points from our judges who noted that lemon jumps out on the palate, slightly sweet but not overly so, a perfect example of what it is.”


Ciders also didn’t disappoint this year, earning just shy of 20 medals, including 2 golds. “The category showcased some really good products, we were especially surprised by the bottle-fermented ciders, as they offered different layers of complexity and aromas,” shared our judges.

One of the highlights of the tasting was the 100% fruit cider - Showerings Cider Mill Triple Vintage Cider. The judges were impressed with its “well-balanced palate, great apple expression, refreshing acidity with a bit of tannin at aftertaste”.

Ice ciders shone this year, with a gold awarded to the standout entry - 20 Manzanas Iced Cider 2022 by Llagares Valverán. The judges were pleased to see “a balance between sweetness and acidity with great potential to be a nice pairing to desserts, as well as enjoyed on its own after dinner”.


Vermouth is an exciting category at the IWSC, with the number and quality of entries growing year-on-year. The 2024 judging once again showcased the high standard that can be achieved within the category, with over 50 medals awarded including 8 golds.

“Really dynamic range of vermouths shown today, a lot of golds which is great to see. The gold winners were so elegant! In addition to what you are thinking about when it comes to good vermouth, with the aromatisation and the botanical blends, the best we saw today were starting with very beautifully well-made wine as the base and that makes a world of difference,” shared Shannon Tebay, who oversaw the vermouth tasting.

The red dry vermouths showed particularly well – 2 golds and 4 silver medals were awarded in this category. The absolute standout of the day was Riserva Excelsior Extra Dry NV by Cav. Pietro Bordiga. This extra dry red vermouth scored as high as 98 points and earned a gold medal, the judges admiring the “medicinal and barky aromas, with blackcurrant squash and garden herbs notes and a nice balance of bitter and sweet”.


Wine-based Flavoured Drinks and Mead

“Overall the wine-based flavoured drinks grew in quality compared to the past years, offering more value for consumers with potential into this category to be a crowd pleaser in the following years as these drinks usually come at a lower ABV,” noted our judges.

Over 20 medals were awarded to wine-based flavoured drinks, with an equal number of strong silvers and bronzes.

Another pleasant surprise of the Alternative Drinks Judging was the Mead category – “an ancient beverage that with the right tuning to more modern taste could be reborn from the ashes”.

Lyme Bay Winery Black Cherry Mead was the standout in this category, earning a gold medal having wowed our judges with its aromas of marasca cherry, honey, lovely palate with a pleasant, almondy, sweet finish and ample freshness”.

Full medal results of our 2024 Alternative Drinks Judging can be viewed here