And the winner is: Antipodes Spring Water from New Zealand is a double winner: Gold Medal Winner for Best Carbonated Water and a People’s Choice Award for Best Bottle Design.
The Olympics of Water
The World’s Best Bottled Waters Compete For The Gold
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia is not the most likely place to hold an international water tasting. Yet, now in its sixth year, the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, positioned as the Olympics of Water, is the centerpiece of the Winter Festival of Waters, a three-month series of special activities produced by Travel Berkeley Springs to heighten winter tourism business in Morgan County, West Virginia. Its perennial water master is Arthur von Wiesenberger, founder of BottledWaterWeb.com.
Each year, waters from all over the world—this year more than 70 waters representing a dozen countries and 22 states—compete for medals in four categories:
The first four categories are judged by a panel of eleven media judges based on taste. The waters are rated for each attribute including appearance (it should be clear, or slightly opaque for glacial waters), aroma (there should be none), taste (it should taste clean), mouth feel (it should feel light), aftertaste (it should leave you thirsty for more). Waters were tasted in four separate flights over two days. The People’s Choice award is judged by attendees based purely on package design; the waters are not tasted.
Unlike the real Olympics, the event doesn’t draw a huge crowd—watching judges drink glasses of water is not as compelling as skating or ski jumping—but more than 200 people attended.
The Municipal Water Category
- Gold Medal Winner: Montpelier, Ohio
- Silver Medal Winner: Kent, Ohio
- Bronze Medal Winner: Sparwood, B.C., Canada
- 4th Place: MHOG Water Plant, Howell, Michigan
- 5th Place: Rice Lake, Wisconsin
The Non-Carbonated Bottled Water Category
- Gold Medal Winner: Great Glacier, Oxford, Wisconsin
- Silver Medal Winner: Ontario Gold Beverage, Barrie, Ontario, Canada
- Bronze Medal Winner: Tie: Virginia’s Best, Edinburg, Virginia; Llanllyr SOURCE, United Kingdom
- 4th Place: LeSage Natural Wells, Lesage, West Virginia
- 5th Place: Amaro, Montreal, Canada
The Purified Drinking Water Category
- Gold Medal Winner: Claire Baie, Oak Creek, Wisconsin
- Silver Medal Winner: StoneClear Springs Natural, Vanleer, Tennessee
- Bronze Medal Winner: Water Boyz, Santa Fe, New Mexico
- 4th Place: Chill, Mechanicsville, Virginia
- 5th Place: Daytona Beach, Florida
The Carbonated Bottled Water Category
- Gold Medal Winner: Antipodes, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand (read our full
review of Antipodes Spring Water)
- Silver Medal Winner: Dobra Voda Sparkling, Republic of Macedonia
- Bronze Medal Winners: Celvik Tesanj, Bosnia
- 4th Place: Pian della Mussa, Balme, Italy
- 5th Place: Tie: Dobra Voda Medium, Republic of Macedonia; Tesanjski Dijamant, Tesanj, Bosnia
The People’s Choice for Package Design Category
- Gold Medal Winner: Waiwera Infinity Artesian Water, New Zealand
(photo at right)
- Silver Medal Winner: Icelandic Glacial Bottled Water, Thorlakshosn,
Iceland (read our full review of Icelandic Spring Water)
- Bronze Medal Winner: FLO, First Liquid Obsession, Vanleer, Tennessee
- 4th Place: StoneClear Springs Bottling Company, Vanleer, Tennessee
- 5th Place: Antipodes, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand (read our full
review of Antipodes Spring Water)
Most, if not all, of the winning names are unfamiliar to the spring water purchaser who buys water at the supermarket. That’s because most of the several hundred brands of water available in America are regional brands. Second, most markets carry only a dozen or so brands—and those are the large names that control most of the market—brands like Poland Spring, Deer Park, Arrowhead, Evian, Fiji and Volvic in the Non-Carbonated Bottled Water Category; Dasani and AquaFina in the Purified Drinking Water Category; Apollinaris, Lurisia, Gerolsteiner, Perrier Ty Nant and San Pellegrino in the Carbonated Bottled Water Category.
So, what do the “Water Olympics” represent? A chance for small, international brands to get recognition and earn a “medal” for their label, which will help them get distribution and, once available, will induce you, the consumer, to try them instead of another brand. Most of the waters winning the top prizes in 2006 had placed in the top five in previous years, and the “name brands” were not represented.
The 7th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting is scheduled for Saturday, February 24, 2007. Click here for more information.