2023 Spirits Awards - deliberations from our judges #1

Spirit news

Wed 8 Mar 2023

As we hit the mid-way mark of our first week of spirits judging, we caught up with David T Smith who was overseeing our vodka judging panels today.

“We've been tasting a whole range of vodka today from the very neutral products to the slightly more characterful products all the way through to the flavoured products.

We’ve seen a slight uptick in botanical vodkas, which are created by distilling the botanicals like you would with gin, rather than simply just adding the flavourings as is the way with flavoured vodka. This category of vodka has been gaining popularity in recent years as consumers are increasingly seeking out new and interesting flavours in their spirits and I think that's a trend that will continue. The classic flavours are still there, lots citrus and berries but beyond that there’s also coffee and herbs and spices.

What has also been particularly exciting about today is how the quality of the unflavoured category has continued to evolve and improve. We've had, I think, possibly the most Gold Outstandings we’ve ever awarded for a vodka judging. A lot of these winners are vodkas where they have the right balance between character coming through from the base material that the vodka is made from and the and the pureness and the neutrality that you would typically expect from vodka.

Overall, I think we can safely say vodka is certainly a category that's pushing the boundaries. We've had a few products where we were like “is this vodka, or is this not vodka” but it’s all exciting." 

The IWSC’s 2023 Spirits Results will be available from 27 March 2023.