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Award-winning wines & spirits

Find out what makes an award winner
at the UK's top competitions
Award winning wines
UK wine & spirit awarding bodies

Benchmark wines & spirits, chosen by the experts

There are four main wines and spirits awarding bodies in the UK, who all use rigorous tasting procedures to ensure quality and fairness. The competitions are judged by top experts and experienced professionals from the world of wine and spirits, including many Masters of Wine.

These awarding bodies help to guide and inform customers on the quality of wine from around the world. Each awarding body will categorise entries by colour, country and region and some will categorise by price.

Waitrose Cellar stock more than 500 award winning bottles, more than 50 of which are Waitrose own label wines and spirits.

International Wine Challenge (IWC)

International Wine Challenge (IWC)

The IWC has been running for more than 30 years and is one of the largest blind tastings in the world. The competition calls on the skills of more than 300 judges, including 39 Masters of Wine, to taste more than 12,500 wines from 51 countries and more than 430 varieties. These judges are over-seen by six chairmen, each of them leaders in their field. Between them they taste every single medal-winning wine, ensuring that only the best succeed.


To achieve an IWC gold medal, the wine is tasted up to six times and the results verified by one of the six IWC chairmen. In 2013, 515 gold medals were awarded across all categories of the competition.

Decanter world wine awards (DWWA)

Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)

The Decanter World Wine Awards launched in 2004 with just over 4,000 wines, and is now celebrating a glorious tradition as the world’s leading wine competition. Last year, 219 wine experts from 27 countries, including 75 Masters of Wine and 13 Master Sommeliers, gathered in London to taste 14,362 wine entries from around the world.

Each region is categorised by price, from under £7 to over £60. A total of 9,873 wines were awarded a Decanter medal at their last event.

International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC)

International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC)

Now in its 44th year, the IWSC is the longest running competition of its kind in the world. It aims to promote the quality and excellence of the world’s best wines, spirits and liqueurs.

All IWSC entries attaining a certain level of success undergo comprehensive technical analysis to ensure they meet all relevant technical and legal requirements. This adds to the credibility of an IWSC award and the value that they convey to winning products.

The IWSC boasts an extensive list of judges. These judges encompass every aspect of the trade including Masters of Wine, drinks writers, educators, distillers, wine makers and buyers.

A total of 5,554 products were awarded an IWSC medal last year.

The International Spirits Challenge (ISC)

The International Spirits Challenge (ISC)

The International Spirits Challenge is now in its 18th year and is the most authoritative, respected and influential spirits competition in the world.

The ISC receive more than 1,000 entries from nearly 70 countries worldwide making the ISC a truly global competition. The judging process is held over seven days of intense blind tasting by panels of more than 50 respected and experienced industry professionals. Each judge assesses products according to their age, region and variety. The spirits are blind tasted and awarded a score out of 100 for their aroma, appearance and taste.

Drinks retailing Awards

Drinks Retailing Awards

A much sought after and respected awarding body, the Drinks Retailing Awards strive to promote high standards across the industry as a whole. The judging process is rigorous and detailed, including lengthy interviews and in-depth analysis of retail service, range and value.

This year Waitrose was named wine retailer of the year, spirits retailer of the year and supermarket of the year by the Drinks Retailing Awards.