From Gin And Tonic To Whisky Highball: Best Spirits And Mixers 2023

Spirit news

Mon 21 Aug 2023

By Mila Gorchakova

The drinks industry is a dynamic landscape that continually evolves with new trends and innovations. Amidst this ever-changing environment, classic cocktails made of a spirit and a mixer, be it gin and tonic or whisky highball, remain universally valued for their refined simplicity and well-balanced flavours. This year, IWSC Mixer Awards, sponsored by Franklin & Sons, once again showed a growth in the number and quality of entries. In these categories, the spirits were judged based on how well they paired with the mixer. A total of 12 gold medals were awarded to outstanding spirits which all work wonders when combined with tonic or soda. Here are the best spirits and mixers of the 2023 awards, along with our judges' tasting notes. 

Gin And Tonic Mixer Awards – Gold medal winners

With a total of 6 gold medals, this was a stellar category of this year’s Mixer Awards. "The strength of a good gin and tonic lies in its simplicity," said our judges. The crispness of gin combined with the effervescence of tonic water tickles the palate and brings a delightful symphony of flavours. When judging this category, the IWSC experts tasted the drinks composed of one part gin to three parts tonic. The drinks were tasted blindly in Riedel glasses, no ice or garnish was used.

“Fresh impressions on the nose showing aroma characteristics of coriander leaf, ground coriander, floral notes and juniper combining on the palate with Christmas spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and orange flavour characteristics. Overall a well-balanced example showing a very nice spicy edge."

“Citrus and juniper with a warm earthy undertone. Classic London dry gin style.”

"Apricot mousse displaying sappy juniper, bold citrus and pepper on an earthy, sweet spice finish."

"Aloe, almond and eucalyptus aromas with cinnamon, grapefruit and orange running through to a soft landing."

“Grassy, herbaceous, violets, earthy spices and citrus on the nose and palate with a smooth mouthfeel.”

"A zippy citrus punch is underscored by delicate chamomile and a sprinkling of white pepper."

Whisky Highball Mixer Awards – Gold medal winners

Another top-performing category, whisky highballs impressed our judges with the consistent quality of all entries. “Whiskey high balls are always a favourite of mine, and we ended up with some really outstanding finishers in the gold category,” shared Shannon Tebay, IWSC Judging Committee member who oversaw the judging. Our experts tasted whisky highballs made of one part whisky to three parts of soda water. The drinks were tasted blindly in Riedel glasses, no ice or garnish was used.

"A cacophany of green stallks, liquorice and rich meaty stew entwine with gentle peat on a rich and purple fruit infused palate." 

"Classic with an enjoyable peat infused character that crescendos on the palate into a long, sweet and peppery spiced finish." 

"A well-balanced whisky with apple, lemongrass and smoke aromas, followed by an oaky, peaty palate with layers of vanilla spice and smoke."

Rum And Tonic Mixer Awards – Gold medal winners

The marriage of rum and tonic might not be as well-known as some other classics, such as gin and tonic, but it's a combination that promises a unique and enjoyable drinking experience, said our judges, admitting that there were some great surprises in this category. At the judging, the rum and tonics were mixed in the proportion of one part rum to three parts tonic. The drinks were tasted blindly in Riedel glasses, no ice or garnish was used.

"Nutty and earthy nose with an elegant and fresh palate, oak is well integrated."

"Distinct coffee grinds come through on the nose, with a sweet, chocolatey palate to follow."

Vodka And Tonic Mixer Awards – Gold medal winners

Our judges appreciated the clean and crisp flavour profile of many of this year’s entries. "Vodka and tonic is a simple, yet elegant cocktail and when done right, it can be enjoyable and incredibly versatile," said the judges. The entries were tasted in the proportion of one part vodka to three parts tonic, in Riedel glasses, with no ice or garnish.

"Bold aromas of vanilla and caramel. Soft fruit flavours and a dry finish."