Updated on 30 June 2020
Over the last couple of months here at the IWSC, we’ve been actively adjusting our plans to put our customers, experts and team first. Our goal, nonetheless, remains to find a way to once more showcase your spirits – and your stories – once normal service resumes.
We are lucky in that the format of our tasting sessions – small groups, high frequency – gives us a welcome degree of flexibility. And as lockdown restrictions in the UK begin to ease over the coming weeks, we’re thrilled to confirm that this year’s spirits judging is set to begin at IWSC’s headquarters from Monday 13 July.
The sessions will be run over three weeks, with two – rather than the usual three – panels per day to ensure that social distancing can be maintained. The results from these judging sessions will be announced in early August, enabling producers to market these results by the time – hopefully – the market returns to some sort of normality in autumn.
The Scotch whisky judging sessions, meanwhile, will be held a little later, and in Scotland this year, with IWSC staff travelling up in early September to host the tastings. As a result, the delivery deadline for the Scotch whisky category has been extended to August, and all whisky results will be announced in mid-September (including the non-Scotch whiskies, which will be judged with the other spirits at our July sessions).
We’re excited to be welcoming back some of the industry’s biggest names this year, including the likes of Charles Maxwell, David T Smith and Joel Harrison, who will all be judging gin. Master of Malt head buyer Guy Hodcroft will also be back on the panels for a few categories this year. New judges for 2020 include rum expert Ian Burrell and Aidy Smith of The Three Drinkers.
In order to ensure our tastings are COVID-secure, we will be operating with fewer staff members, providing all judges and staff with PPE (including hand sanitiser, gloves and masks), and ensuring everyone is able to follow the social distancing guidelines.
Entry deadline: 8 June 2020 (August for Scotch whisky)
Delivery deadline: 15 June 2020 (7 August for Scotch whisky)
Spirits judging: From 13 July (early-September for Scotch whisky)
Results release: Early August (mid-September for all whiskies)