Spirits 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 spirit is judged by a whole panel in sync, allowing for group discussions.

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Our points of difference

1. Every label is closely checked to ensure correct categorisation
2. Samples are served in numbered glasses to guarantee anonymity
3. Judging panels are made up of a balanced mix of experts from a diverse range of sectors drawn from over 30 countries
4. Our experts assess ~65 samples through the course of the day; this allows judges plenty of time to taste each spirit and avoids palate fatigue
5. All gold-awarded spirits are re-tasted by a member of the independent Spirits Judging Committee to give the final seal of approval
6. In order to promote your spirits to the right audience, we ask for full details of the distribution channels of all spirits 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 spirits trade. Many judges are also distillers 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

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Why do we need two samples?

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

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

Spirits scoring system

Gold Outstanding








An outstanding spirit with a naturally exceptional balance, complexity and power. An example that immediately sets itself apart from others in the category.

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

An accomplished spirit with good balance, strong character and good complexity. A classic example of its style or variety.

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