Alternative drinks 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 drink 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 ~60 samples through the course of the day; this allows judges plenty of time to taste each drink and avoids palate fatigue
5. All gold-awarded drinks are re-tasted by a member of the independent Judging Committee to give the final seal of approval

Our experts

IWSC judges are world-renowned experts from across the global drinks trade. Many judges are also distillers/producers 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 four samples?

We want to ensure that if a wine is faulty or damaged we can serve a fresh sample to avoid any of your wines getting an unfair score. In addition, if your wine wins a gold medal it will be put forward for our trophy judging, where we will use a bottle in these judging sessions. Spare bottles are used for promotional activities throughout the year.

Please note: if you are sending cans, we will require six samples.

Alternative drinks scoring system







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

An accomplished drink with good balance, strong character and good complexity. A classic example of its category style.

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