The DB & SB Autumn Blind Tasting 2022 results
In autumn, consumers tend to move away from lighter summer drinks and try different expressions. With that in mind, our round-up of what’s on offer will help them find the best of the bunch.
Record-breaking summer temperatures have tapered off to make way for crisp mornings and cosy knits. Supermarket shelves boast a muddled mix of Halloween costumes and Christmas treats – confirming the prompt arrival of autumn.
Consumers’ drinking preferences can change as frequently as the seasons. As the temperature drops for those in the Northern Hemisphere, The DB & SB Autumn Blind Tasting provides the perfect opportunity for brands to highlight their award-worthy products during the cooler seasons.
To critique the level of entries this year, two panels of expert judges gathered at Macellaio in London.
Forming the first panel were: Dimple Athavia, founder of All Things Drinks; Marie Cheong Thong, wine and spirits judge, and Wine and Spirit Education Trust educator; and Tobias Gorn, co-founder and senior partner of International Drinks Specialists. Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business, and chair of The Global Spirits Masters, led the team.
The second panel comprised: David T Smith, spirits consultant, writer and co-founder of the Craft Distilling Expo, who chaired the group; Sarah Miller, founder of the Gin A Ding Ding blog; Evan Prousaefs, bar manager at Sexy Fish in London; Sara Jane Eichler, founder of the Negroni Club UK; and Bernadette Pamplin, founder of the Under the Ginfluence blog.
A solid opening flight of vodkas presented a plethora of Gold medals. Six Gold medallists were celebrated in this round, including Bold Vodka, which delivered notes of “lemon sherbet and sweet Palma Violets”. Dutch Barn Orchard Vodka also secured a Gold medal for its “clean” nose with some “gentle lychee”. The palate presented some “cracked black pepper spice, bitter lemon peel and a hint of sweetness to balance”.
Royal Mash Vintage Vodka 2020 also secured a Gold medal for its “creamy texture and mouthfeel”. Gorn said about the flight: “This was a solid set of vodkas overall.”
As the competition moved to a flight of Gin, the first Master medal of the day was discovered. Diageo collected the top award for Gordon’s Travellers Edition. Smith noted: “Good texture and lots of juniper, some citrus and spice. Excellent classic, crisp gin – good all rounder.”
Four Gold medals were bestowed upon: “spicy, oily” Broken Hill Distillery Far West Gin; “green, resinous” Broken Hill Distillery Outback Strength Gin; “bright, citrusy, slightly floral” Professor Jorvik’s Y-Gin; and Tiger Gin, with its “lovely texture” and “slightly savoury finish”.
Additionally, a trio of Silver medals were awarded to Gordon’s Sicilian Lemon, Gordon’s Passionfruit, and Gordon’s Mediterranean Orange.
Eichler was very impressed with the flight: “Lovely to see so much brightness in very different gins.”
Prousaefs agreed, adding: “A quite diverse flight. The category showed both traditional and non-traditional aspects – the bar was set very high.”
A small but strong flight of Brandy came next. A Master medal was awarded after the judges enjoyed sampling St-Rémy Signature. Athavia said: “There was complexity and balance, but also a sweetness like a beautiful ripeness.” Gold-winning St-Rémy XO offered “light unripe banana” aromas, and was “fruity and fresh” on the palate.
From there, the tasting progressed to a selection of Scotch Whisky. Balcomie collected one of two Gold medals in this round. In it, Prousaefs found flavours of “sweet honey with peppery notes” on the palate, after enjoying aromas of “honey and flowers”.
Coachbuilt Whisky also collected a Gold medal in the Scotch Whisky flight, enjoyed for its “touch of smoke, some vanilla sweetness, woody spice and a long length”.
Nc’nean Organic Quiet Rebels: Lorna secured a Silver medal, enjoyed for its notes of “spice and jasmine”.
Pamplin commented on the flight: “I loved some of the gentle character of these Scotch whiskies.”
Depth and richness
The American Whiskey contingent delivered a strong set of medals – including three Masters. Each one was collected by Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey. The producer picked up the top award for Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey, found to have a “lovely depth and richness mid-palate, very long finish with nice woody notes”.
Uncle Nearest Uncut & Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey also took home a Master medal. The whiskey was described as having “very rich cocoa notes” with “pear, caramel and flower notes”.
Master medallist Uncle Nearest Master Blender Edition Batch 012 was celebrated for its “big sweet and smoke” aromas, leading to “fruitiness and wood character” on the palate. Gold-winning Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey was liked for its “sweet palate with a long and luscious finish”.
Smith enthused: “The whiskeys were a tour de force – sublime with great complexity.”
Eichler agreed, and added: “A fantastic flight; absolutely scrumptious, a massive bomb of flavour and complexity.”
The Craft Irish Whiskey Co also impressed in the following flight, collecting three medals. The Taoscán was awarded a Master medal for aromas of “raisins and icing sugar”, leading to “leathery, tannins, rich dried fruits and baking spices, with some Sherry on the finish”. A Gold medal was given to The Brollach, which impressed with its “nice texture, good balance and fruitiness”.
Meanwhile, The Devil’s Keep was awarded a Silver medal for its “hint of smoke and Sherry sweetness”.
The judges then swapped Irish whiskey for Rum, and found a Master medallist in Diamond Rock. The rum had “sweet vegetal, green mango” notes and a “sweet, spicy, slightly salty palate”. The judges thoroughly enjoyed its “complexity and a touch of coconut on the finish”.
Three Gold medals were also awarded in this flight. One was handed to Ron Reserva Barrica 80 Don Sulbaran, which had “caramel sweetness, warming spice, and some orange peel citrus”.
Ron Añejo Barrica 40 Don Sulbaran also collected a Gold medal for its “apple fruitiness” on the nose, and “nice sweetness and balance” on the palate.
Takamaka Grankaz also secured a Gold award. The rum presented “honey sweetness, oak spice and dryness towards the finish”.
Makai Spiced Rum collected a Silver medal in this flight.
Overall, the judges noted how the rums impressed with their balanced sweetness and added complexity.
In the Liqueurs heat, a Master medal was awarded to Tobago Gold Chocolate Rum Cream.
The nose offered “nougat and malt, plenty of cocoa powder and a hint of nuttiness”. The palate was “thick and creamy, with a lovely level of chocolate and a hint of cinnamon spice”.
In addition, Scarlett’s Cherry Liqueur collected a Silver medal.
In the Pre-Mixed flight, a Gold medal was awarded to Myatt’s Fields Cocktails Vesper Martini. The judges liked that this cocktail had “lots of character” while being “nicely balanced and quite smooth”.
Standout products for autumn
Two standout products were hailed in the Low & No Alcohol round. The first of two Master medals in this heat went to Everleaf Mountain. Tasting notes included “aromatic nose, incense – so much flavour. Nice fruity sweetness with some bitter backbone. This could be sipped neat or mixed.”
Rebels 0.0% Spritz Alternative also impressed the judges enough to win a Master award. They enthused about “ripe stone fruits and chilli heat. Very flavoursome, the flavour holds up fantastically with no alcohol – bravo.”
Everleaf Forest picked up a Gold medal with notes of “delicate orange blossom and nuttiness on the finish”. Rebels 0.0% Amaretto Alternative was awarded a Silver medal.
Gorn said: “The Master medals in particular had great composition and nice delivery of flavour. If you’re not drinking alcohol for whatever reason, these are great options for flavour.”
The final flight of the day in the autumn tasting was Tonics & Mixers, which concluded the day’s proceedings with a Silver medal for Oceans Spirit Indian Tonic Water. Athavia said the tonic water had “lovely flavour, lots of gentian and floral notes”.
The vast assortment of products sampled across the day left the judges excited about the range of spirits on the market this autumn.
Athavia concluded: “We tasted a really broad range of products today, and there were some fantastic medal winners. I’m looking forward to trying more of them, and I think consumers will also be excited to see what’s out there.”
|Montbel Vins et Spiritueux||Bold Vodka||Gold|
|Ellers Farm Distillery||Dutch Barn Orchard Vodka||Gold|
|Monk Isidore Spirits||Monk Isidore Russian Vodka||Gold|
|The Spirit Of One||One Vodka||Gold|
|Cotswold Blacklion||Blacklion Vodka||Gold|
|Royal Mash||Royal Mash Vintage Vodka 2020||Gold|
|Diageo||Gordon’s Travellers Edition||Master|
|Broken Hill Distillery||Broken Hill Distillery Far West Gin||Gold|
|Broken Hill Distillery||Broken Hill Distillery Outback Strength Gin||Gold|
|Ellers Farm Distillery||Professor Jorvik’s Y‐Gin||Gold|
|Tiger Gin||Tiger Gin||Gold|
|Diageo||Gordon’s Sicilian Lemon||Silver|
|Diageo||Gordon’s Mediterranean Orange||Silver|
|Rémy Cointreau||St‐Rémy Signature||Master|
|Rémy Cointreau||St‐Rémy XO||Gold|
|Coachbuilt Whisky||Coachbuilt Whisky||Gold|
|Nc’nean||Nc’nean Organic Quiet Rebels: Lorna||Silver|
|Uncle Nearest Premium
|Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey||Master|
|Uncle Nearest Premium
|Uncle Nearest Uncut & Unfiltered Straight
|Uncle Nearest Premium
|Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition Batch 012||Master|
|Uncle Nearest Premium
|Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey||Gold|
|The Craft Irish Whiskey Co||The Taoscán||Master|
|The Craft Irish Whiskey Co||The Brollach||Gold|
|The Craft Irish Whiskey Co||The Devil’s Keep||Silver|
|Distillerie Rhum A1710||Diamond Rock||Master|
|Central de Licores Unidos
|Ron Reserva Barrica 80 Don Sulbaran||Gold|
|Central de Licores Unidos
|Ron Añejo Barrica 40 Don Sulbaran||Gold|
|KBE Drinks||Makai Spiced Rum||Silver|
|Tobago Gold Europe||Tobago Gold Chocolate Rum Cream||Master|
|Ellers Farm Distillery||Scarlett’s Cherry Liqueur||Silver|
|Myatt’s Fields Cocktails||Myatt’s Fields Cocktails Vesper Martini||Gold|
Low & No
|Everleaf Drinks||Everleaf Mountain||Master|
|Freespirited Drinks||Rebels 0.0% Spritz Alternative||Master|
|Everleaf Drinks||Everleaf Forest||Gold|
|Freespirited Drinks||Rebels 0.0% Amaretto Alternative||Silver|
Tonics & Mixers
|Oceans Spirit||Oceans Spirit Indian Tonic Water||Silver|