Ten award-winning hard seltzers
The hard seltzer movement isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, and our Hard Seltzer Masters 2022 tasting showed the category still has its pedal to the metal.
According to analysis firm Grand View Research, the global hard seltzer market is expected to be worth US$49.4 billion by 2028, driven by demand for lower-ABV drinks.
We gathered a panel of expert judges to see what was on offer in the category, and if producers are living up to the hype.
After a day of blind tastings, our judges gave out no fewer than 39 Silver medals, 45 Gold medals, and 12 Masters medals – confirming that the hype is very much being lived up to.
Read on to find out which 10 winners left a lasting impression.
Long Shot Raspberry and Blackcurrant
The Long Shot Drinks brand managed to deliver a double dose of Master winners in our blind tasting competition, with the “lovely berry notes with sparkling water” and “excellent alcohol integration” capturing the attention of one judge.
The 4% ABV can, which has recently been released in a 440ml offering, is a nostalgic combination of raspberry juice, blackcurrant juice, grain alcohol and carbonated mineral water. A refreshing addition to any picnic.
High Water Mango & Peach
The High Water brand took home a couple of silver medal winners in this years Hard Seltzers Masters tastings, but it was the Mango & Peach flavour that brought home the coveted Master medal for its “juicy, bold, mango aroma” with “tinned peaches”.
Judge and chair of The Global Spirits Masters Melita Kiely noted the “good carbonation and lovely juicy mango and peach flavours”, saying it had the potential to be “a real crowd-pleaser”. The perfect can for your next BBQ.
The Fellr Passionfruit hard seltzer really stood out from the crowd in the Brewed expressions category – so much so that it was deemed a deserving recipient of a Master award.
Tasting notes included “lovely passionfruit with some tannic tea notes” making it “very inviting”.
The 4% ABV can contains one gram of sugar and 83 calories, while also being vegan-friendly and gluten-free.
Young Heart – Green Tea and Muscat Grape
This canned expression was the big winner of the Hard Seltzer Masters competition this year, not only taking home a Master medal, but also the title of Taste Master for its presentation of “tannins from the green tea and some meadow florals” on the nose, leading to “hints of sweetness from the grape” when sipped.
The brand entered four expressions into the competition this year, seeing it take away Silver medals for the Plum & Cedar Wood and Elderflower & Basil expressions, plus a Gold medal for the Pink Grapefruit & Orange Blossom.
Two Brooks Lime Cooler
The UK brand Two Brooks snapped up two Master awards in the Fermented category, with the producer’s Lime Cooler being praised for “doing exactly what it says”, with “a lovely zesty lime palate that lingers” and “good carbonation”. The perfect summer serve.
Stablemate Two Brooks Mango Hi-Ball also bagged a Master for its “tropical and refreshing” qualities, with “forward and well-balanced mango”.
Bear Back Mango & Passionfruit
Bear Back was the only brand featured in the Spirit Based – Flavoured category, and it unsurprisingly cleaned up, taking home two Gold and two Silver medals for its entries.
The Gold awards went to Bear Back Hard Seltzer – Mango & Passionfruit, with its “nice round flavour and delicious puréed sweetness”, and Bear Back Hard Seltzer – Black Cherry, described as “generous, with lovely big, round flavour”.
Lot 42 Gooseberry and Green Apple
In the Flavoured – Berry heat, Lot 42 Gooseberry and Green Apple joined the Gold ranks, thanks to the “bright, refreshing and very nice” overall flavour, according to Smith, with “tartness and then green apple” on the palate.
The premium hard seltzer brand is about a ‘pursuit of a better place’ and seeks to be a ‘beacon for logging off’, so if you’re looking for a can to accompany you on an off-grid adventure, this Master winner is the one.
White Claw Watermelon
The “fresh, light, not overly sweet” White Claw Watermelon took home a Gold medal this year, as did three other White Claw expressions entered in for judging. The brand has gone from strength to strength in the last year, having invested in several marketing campaigns to continue its growth trajectory.
After a £4 million (US$5m) partnership with 40 UK festivals this year, chances are if you’re hitting one of the big shows this summer, you’ll be able to take in the music with one of these Gold medal winners in hand.
Natz Ginger Crush
In this year’s Infused hard seltzers category, Natz Ginger Crush, which clocks in at 5% ABV and comes served in a bottle rather than a can, was awarded Gold for its “dry and very gingery” profile.
The French brand claims to be leading the infusion revolution, and we reckon they’re probably right – it was the only brand that featured in the category.
Féfé Cucumber and Eucalyptus
If you’re looking for a beverage “really refreshing and tasty”, Féfé Cucumber and Eucalyptus is the can to reach for. The French hard seltzer had a “fresh, vibrant aroma” with “punchy flavours on the palate – cucumber is fresh and the eucalyptus balances well”.
As is the ethos of the brand, which has been created by the team behind acclaimed Parisian speakeasy, Le Syndicat, the hard seltzer champions French spirits.
The can features vodka distilled in Cognac, and presents aromas from the oldest perfume house in Grasse. Hailing from a cocktail bar, the team recommends adding it to a dash of elderflower liqueur or 3ml of Get 27 for something beyond the hard seltzer.