Spirits Judges' Top Picks

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Following our awards announcements, discover our judges top scoring spirits

Throughout judging, each of our experts will individually score every spirit they sample. This means after we’ve announced our results, we can share the spirits our judges rate the highest. Discover the top picks spirits of some members of our expert judging panel….

Joel Harrison

Here we discover the entrants Joel Harrison scored highest at our 2022 spirits judging. An IWSC Judging Committee member, award-winning drinks writer and commentator, and whisky and fine spirits specialist, discover his top picks here.

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Jimmy Harris

Co-founder of Glassmates, Jimmy Harris returned for IWSC judging in 2022 to assist with our whisky judging. Discover his top picks here

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Colin Hampden-White

A whisky consultant and writer, Colin is also a presenter on The Three Drinkers on Amazon Prime, Chairman of the Circle of Wine Writers and a Keeper of the Quaich. His writing careers started at the Scotsman, he has since worked at The Times and FT, and became the founding editor of Whisky Quarterly magazine. He contributes to Club Oenologique and on top of all this, as well as being one of our judges, Colin is also a highly skilled and awarded photographer. Discover his top picks here.

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Rosie Milsom

Discover the top spirits our judges rated the highest at our recent judging...here we discover what Rosie Milsom, Head of New Product Development at Atom Brands, rated as her top picks.

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Dhavall Ghandi

Dhavall has more than a decade of experience in the alcohol sector, beginning his whisky career at single malt maker The Macallan in 2014 before joining The Lakes Distillery in 2016. Earlier this year he launched his own consultation business – Dhavall Ghandi Whisky. Discover his top picks here.

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Sam Carter

Sam Carter has been an Ambassador for Bombay Sapphire since early 2009. His role requires him to be at the coal front  of this ever-expanding drinks category. During his 25+ years within the drinks industry, Sam has developed a wealth of knowledge through his training and on hands experience, making his contribution to our judging incredibly relevant and important. Discover his top picks here.

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Tim Blake

Tim is the Co-Founder & Commercial Director of Crossip Drinks, which he founded back in 2020 on a mission to change the no and low category. Discover his top picks here.

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Bernadette Pamplin

Bernadette Pamplin is a writer with years of experience, who relatively recently took the step to specialise in what she loves most. The wonderful world of spirits. She founded her website, Under the Ginfluence back in 2015 and has been judging with the IWSC for several years. Discover her top picks here.

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Charles Maxwell

Founder of Thames Distillers, Charles’ family have been involved in the gin trade from as far back as the 1680’s. Discover his top picks here.

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Keli Rivers

Having worked in kitchens and bars across the world, Keli took up the post of Sipsmith‘s US brand ambassador in 2018 and has since been working hard to help this renowned British gin gain momentum in the US. Discover her top picks here.

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Guy Hodcroft

Guy is Spirits Buyer for luxury fine wine and spirits merchant Bordeaux Index which he joined in 2021 after four years at Master of Malt. An avid whisky lover as well as a big cricket fan, discover his top picks here.

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Veronika Karlova

Veronika Karlova is a Slovakian vodka expert based in the UK. With an extensive knowledge of the global vodka market, Veronika is the UK Brand Ambassador for Beluga Vodka. Discover her top picks here.

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Billy Abbott

Billy is a writer and educator specialising in whisky and fine spirits. Formerly a computer programmer in the finance industry, in 2011 he swapped code for actual words, rapidly becoming one of most respected voices in whisky. Discover his top picks here.

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Barry McCaughley

Barry has judged with the IWSC for over 10 years and specialises in agave and Asian spirits including Shochu. He has many strings to his bow, including as a Restaurateur, Food & Beverage Development Consultant, business owner and a restaurant and bar start up specialist. Discover his top picks here.

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Anne Jones

Anne has worked in the wine and spirits industry since 2008, when she moved into the buying team at Waitrose. She has covered all categories, and has visited, studied and enjoyed extensively - most recently with focus on rum, gin, alcohol-free and baijiu. Discover her top picks here.

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How our judges taste

Here at the IWSC our judging process is entirely blind. 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 with the whole panel in sync, allowing for group discussions. A medal is awarded based on consensus across the panel, and for any Gold or Gold Outstanding medals awarded, our spirits judging committee member will re-taste these spirits for a final endorsement.

Throughout judging, each of our experts will individually score every spirit they sample. This means after we’ve announced our results, we can share the spirits our judges rate the highest. Discover the Top 8 spirits of some members of our expert judging panel….