Standing out from the crowd

David Longfield sums up the results of Drinks International's inaugural Latin spirits tasting
27 August, 2008
Page 26 
In the unenlightened past there was a tendency to lump together all spirits produced in the Latin American region , simply as mixers to go with lime and perhaps soda in some kind of cocktail.

While it's true that tequila, pisco and cachaça all have traditional drinking rituals involving lime, we're actually talking about three very distinct categories of drink with their own identities: tequila, the unique product of the Weber blue agave; pisco, a grape brandy made either from Quebranta, an unassuming black grape imported from Spain, or from a number of aromatic varieties such as Moscatel or Albilla (and skipping over the argument between Peru and Chile over which invented it); and cachaça, Brazil's signature sugar cane spirit.

The judges at the DI Latin American Challenge certainly relished the opportunity to taste the three categories side by side. "I was surprised by the variety in the cachaças in particular," said Paul Matthew. "There were some very different styles from a bartender's point of view. It makes a nice change from the sweetness of rum with its grassy, savoury character."

With five Golds and two Trophies, the strongest performer was tequila, not unexpectedly. Said Matthew: "Drinkers seem open to trying new tequilas. It's not just the bartenders' choice." The cachaças put in a solid performance though, clocking up seven Silvers among both white and gold styles, but the rising star of the day was pisco Mistral Nobel from Companhia Pisquera de Chile. The judges were so impressed that they awarded it a Trophy.

In all, six Golds, 15 Silvers and nine Bronze medals out of 41 entrants reflected the strength of the field on the day.

----=== Packaging Design Awards ===Judged concurrently with the Latin American and Caribbean Rum Challenge tastings, no gold medal was awarded for product design among the competing piscos, cachaças, tequilas and rums, but it was rum that performed best with two awards out of the three given.

Silver - Cockspur 12 Year Old Rum

Bronze - Cazadores Añejo Tequila

Highly Commended - Toz Gold Rum

The Caribbean Rum Challenge results will be published in February 's Drinks International

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