The International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC)

Decoding The Drinks Industry Awards This Month Rosemullion Explains The International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC)

Rosemullion are lucky enough to have been awarded numerous awards since its inaugural year in 2018. We’ve won awards from:

  • The International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC)
  • the SIP Awards
  • the World Rum Awards
  • the World Spirits Competition
  • the Great British Food Awards

and many more. But we’ve realised that many clients are not familiar with the world of awards, or what the awards actually mean? So we thought it would be helpful to give you some context.


What is the IWSC?

The international Wine & Spirit Competiion (IWSC) was founded in 1969 by an Austrian-born English-based ‘wine chemist’ called Aton Massel. An oenologist like Massel has studied the science of wine and wine making, including the arts and techniques for making wine, but will also know about viticulture, the growing, cultivating and harvesting of grapes.

What Massel wanted was to create a global spirits and wine community, championing makers from around the world who not only made the best products but who would also stand shoulder to shoulder, encouraging each other, sharing insights to help improve the products and therefore the industry as a whole.

With a more-than 50 year old history the IWSC has garnered a global reputation of being among the – if not the – highest awards obtainable in the industry. With the awards ceremonies happening every November in London, the producers pay an entry fee of £140 per category judged, with three to four bottles expected to be supplied (at least six months earlier) of each product, to ensure a standard is reached.

The IWSC awards given out include:

  • Gold outstanding
  • Gold
  • Silver outstanding
  • Silver
  • Bronze

With no limitations on how many of each award can be won, and with an extensive range of trophies to be won each year, and with such an internationally sound reputation, winning an IWSC award is surely one of the most tempting and exciting goals in the drinks industry.

The IWSC Judges

Drawing in around 250 specialist judges from around the globe the IWSC Judges must still attend a special IWSC ‘judges induction course’, presumably to ensure parity and a standardisation in quality of assessment. Many of the judges will themselves be winemakers and/or distillers. Some will be Masters of Wine, others will be trade specialists in their field, each bringing their own unique brand and flavour of critique. Whoever they are they have been deemed by the IWSC as ‘eminent spirit professionals’.

Obviously, this many experts brought together in any industry is truly awesome. What it results in is a body of judges all of whom are applying their expertise, their cultural knowledge, their personal approach to critiquing a product.  Those judges have been selected for their own industry attainments and have been trained to the IWSC’s own rigorous and impartial judging-standards. They are the top tier.

The IWSC Judging Process

The judges gather at the IWSC purpose-built premises which includes tasting rooms, regular staff and temperature-controlled cellars, in order to ensure that all attentions are concentrated on assessing the products at hand. The IWSC’s in-house team have been carefully chosen, to draw on their expert and global drinks-industry connections.

Given that this is an international competition, the judging of the thousands of entries is no mean feat, taking around half a year for the judges to assess all the products in each category. With over 1,500 categories to wade through, each needing particular and concentrated attention, and each divided into region or area, the type, style or variety, vintage or age… it takes time. Any spirits or wines that win a category are then put forwards into the national and possibly – if they’re lucky – the international levels.

What Is The Impact Of Winning An IWSC Award?

Winning an award at the IWSC is a massive boost to any brand – whether winemaker or spirit maker. The many positive testimonials on the IWSC website are testament to the power and excitement of being associated with the IWSC name. The IWSC can also help to mitigate any not-so-positive press as the awards literally speak for themselves. At Rosemullion we have been fortunate enough to win the following IWSC awards since we began our distillery in our orchard back in 2018.

Most excitingly, our Rosemullion Distillery’s Navy Gin won ‘Gold Outstanding Award’ in the Spirits category at the annual International Wine & Spirit Competition this March, gaining 98/100 points. As our press release said at the time: “We always knew our Navy Gin could be something special, so we worked so hard to make it the best it could be. But to have it acknowledged as outstanding, and as one of the best Navy Gins in the world by a competition as prestigious as the IWSC, is unbelievably exciting.

“The IWSC is a 50 year old global community of experts who really know the business, and so to have their judges not only notice Rosemullion Distillery Navy Gin but deem it worth ‘Gold Outstanding’ is hugely encouraging. Like all artisan distillers everywhere we truly love our products, we drink them, and we work hard to make them great, so my wife and I – and all the Rosemullion Distillery team – are over the moon about receiving these awards.”

IWSC judges said of our Rosemullion Navy Gin (57% ABV): “Crisp pine on the nose alongside briny, almost pungent seaweed. The palate is an explosion of layered flavours. An initial burst of kaffir lime sweetness slowly reveals powerful, warming coriander, hints of finger limes and background cumin seed. Astounding complexity”.

Rosemullion Distillery Navy Rum also flexed its championship muscles, winning IWSC’s Spirit Silver Award 2023. Judges declared the Navy Rum has, “A herbal nose with light floral tones and lovely balance and poise on the palate with assertive oak and sweet fudge flavours giving a well-balanced and integrated spirit”.

We hope that this article has explained a little more why the IWSC Awards are one of the best gongs the industry can hand out. My wife and I are looking forward to heading to London for this year’s IWSC` Awards and we’ll keep you posted on our progress. Wish us luck!

Til then, all the best

Liz & Andy Bradbury

Rosemullion Co-Founder

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