Almost every ingredient you’ve ever heard of has made it into a liqueur at some point – whether it’s a fruit, a spice, or something more outlandish. This diversity is due to the drink’s long history. For centuries, strong spirits have been tempered with the addition of roots, herbs and flowers, as well as some sugar to make them easier to drink. Just think of the classics, from Grand Marnier (invented in 1870), to Luxardo Maraschino (1821) and Chartreuse (created as far back as 1084).
But liqueurs are still hugely popular today, thanks in part to social media. These bold, brightly coloured drinks look fantastic when photographed and are guaranteed to bump up those likes and shares. But they’re also versatile, forming an essential building block in cocktails such as the Kir Royale and the Cosmopolitan, as well as current favourite, the Aperol Spritz. Cream liqueurs are an after-dinner treat – and sometimes a replacement for dessert itself – and whisky liqueurs are a mainstay of hip flasks and hot toddies in the colder months.
The IWSC’s 2022 winners show off that versatility, too. Top of the shop was Malamatina Winery’s Stichion Premium Mastiha Spirit, which scored 98 points. The IWSC judges were hugely impressed with its long flavours of menthol and liquorice that develop into many dimensions.
Other Gold winners were Pelinkovac Orange from Croatia, which scored well thanks to its expressive and complex style and earthy undertones, with coffee notes and hints of coconut. And on the zestier side, Limoncello from Chiesanuova impressed for its fabulously zesty nose and plenty of classic citrus notes.
All were judged blind by an expert panel, featuring spirits buyer Ivan Dixon, renowned bartender Luca Missaglia and co-founder of Maverick Drinks Michael Vachon.
The world of liqueurs is a fascinating one to explore, given the variety and diversity on offer – so get going with this list of 12 of the best from the IWSC 2022.
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE SPIRITS?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE SPIRITS?
Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE
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