The 33rd annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting recently gave out awards to waters from four continents. Five continents had waters among the nearly 100 entered. The municipal water category saw three former Gold medalists in the top five. Gold went to Clearbrook, BC, Canada. Silver medal was won by first-time entry North Muskoka, ON, Canada. Bronze medal was won by St. Paris, Ohio, making them the best in the United States. There was a tie for fourth place, between former Gold medalist Emporia, Kansas and first time entry K-Water (Miryang-si), Gyeongsangnam-do, Republic of Korea. In fifth place, just one single point behind, was former Gold medalist Eldorado Springs, Colorado.
“The consistency in winners from year to year with different panels of judges validates the choices,” remarked esteemed watermaster, Arthur von Wiesenberger. “It also speaks to the impressively high caliber of the waters entered.”
Smeraldina Natural Artesian Water, Monti di Deu, Sardina, Italy was the Gold Medal winner in the Non-Carbonated Water category. They’ve previously won Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Adding to their former Bronze Medal, Hope Natural Spring Water, Halifax County, Virginia took home Silver this year. Bronze Medal went to Jano, Village-Blanchard, NB, Canada. Fourth was Floridian Spring Water, Ocala, Florida, who were present to accept the award, and fifth went to last year’s Silver Medalist, Vortex Energy, Meriden, Connecticut.
“It was another wonderful year for the largest and longest running water tasting in the world; Berkeley Springs is the Academy Awards of water.”–Arthur von Wiesenberger
The event, produced by Travel Berkeley Springs and held at The Country Inn, proves valuable for bottled waters both carbonated and still. Waters use a win in Berkeley Springs for bragging rights and often redesign their labels to include the Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal. Over a dozen entrants in the 2023 contest sported a medal-decorated label.
Water from Around the World
Nine media judges spent hours tasting and selecting from waters sourced in 18 states, three Canadian provinces, and 14 foreign countries. “There were municipal entries from Canada, Australia, and the Republic of Korea this year, with representatives–and even a costumed water drop–from K (Korea) Water in attendance. The total of countries over the life of the event is 59, including waters from Tasmania, Turkey, Bosnia, Greece, and New Zealand,” said Jill Klein Rone, event producer.
The Sparkling Water winners came from three continents.The Gold Medal went to Dijamant Carbonated Mineral Water, Tešanj, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Silver went to multi-medalist, Antipodes Water, Otakiri, Whakatane, New Zealand. Bronze was a new entry, Cedea Sparkling Mineral Water, Dolomites, Italy. Boston Clear Sparkling Water, Lynnfield, Massachusetts (2022 Gold Medalist) placed fourth this year, and multi medalist Theoni Natural Mineral Water, Karditsa, Greece came in fifth.
It was a Taiwanese sweep at the top of the Purified Water category. All first time entries, Taifer Group 100% Deep Ocean Water, Hualien City, Taiwan and Taiwan Yes Alkaline Minerals Deep Ocean Water, Hualien City, Taiwan tied for the Gold Medal, with Atomy 100% Deep Ocean Water, Hualien City, Taiwan taking Silver. Bronze went to VIBRANT WTR®, Hamilton, Ohio. Fourth place went to Mountain Springs, St. Kitts and Nevis, West Indies and fifth to former Gold Medalist Lesage Natural Water, Lesage, West Virginia.
“It was another wonderful year for the largest and longest running water tasting in the world,” said von Wiesenberger. “Berkeley Springs is the Academy Awards of water.” He also praised the selection of the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Robert A. Smith, owner and CEO of Grand Springs Water and welcomed participation of the award sponsorship by Tesanjski kiseljak and company Zema d.o.o from Tesanj, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Online voting for the People’s Choice package design was initiated in 2021. The packaging category had nine entrants competing for most alluring. The clear rounded bottle from Antipodes, Otakiri, Whakatane, New Zealand earned the Gold Medal for best package design. Amamizu Water, Fukui City, Japan won the Silver, and the Bronze went to Clearly Canadian, Marchand, Manitoba, Canada.
The Grand Finale
Conclusion of the daylong water tasting is the famed “water rush” where the audience is invited to take home hundreds of bottles of water sent as part of the judging. While it takes hours to arrange the bottles, the crowd spent less than 10 minutes making it all disappear. “We were pleased to see our favorite couple from Brooklyn in the rush. Peter and Cynthia Lloyd come every year especially for the water tasting–and the rush,” said Klein Rone.
The nine media judges selected by Klein Rone included representatives from ABC7-TV, Washington, DC and Insider’s Guide to Spas, as well as various regional and national media including newspapers, websites, and online and print magazines. They were trained by von Wiesenberger to look, sniff, and taste each water under guidelines similar to those in a wine tasting.
The waters were 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). The judges’ job is crucial and so is their training. All judges are presented with a diploma designating them as a Certified Water Taster.
Several highlights distinguished this year’s event from previous years. As the room filled in the evening, with attendees gathering for the awards ceremony, BlackCat Village Band enthralled the audience with their rich repertoire of multi-cultural songs. All day long people snapped photos with the big blue water drop, part of K (Korea) Water’s exhibit, and many engaged with Project WET’s educational activities.
Best Municipal Water 2023
Gold: Clearbrook, BC, Canada
Silver: North Muskoka, ON, Canada
Bronze: St Paris, Ohio
4th Place Tie: K-Water (Miryang-si), Republic of Korea
4th Place Tie: Emporia, Kansas
5th Place: Eldorado Springs, Colorado
Best Non-carbonated Water 2023
Gold: Smeraldina Natural Artesian Water, Monti di Deu, Sardina, Italy
Silver: Hope Natural Spring Water, Halifax County, Virginia
Bronze: Jano, Village-Blanchard, NB, Canada
4th Place: Floridian Spring Water, Ocala, Florida
5th Place: Vortex Energy, Meriden, Connecticut
Best Sparkling Water 2023
Gold: Dijamant Carbonated Mineral Water, Tešanj, Bosnia & Herzegowina
Silvr: Antipodes Water, Otakiri, Whakatane, New Zealand
Bronze: Cedea Sparkling Mineral Water, Dolomites, Italy
4th Place: Boston Clear Water, Lynnfield, Massachusetts
5th Place: Theoni Natural Mineral Water, Karditsa, Greece
Best Purified Drinking Water 2023
Gold Tie: Taifer Group 100% Deep Ocean Water, Hualien City, Taiwan
Gold Tie: Taiwan Yes Alkaline Minerals Deep Ocean Water, Hualien City, Taiwan
Silver: Atomy 100% Deep Ocean Water, Hualien City, Taiwan
Bronze: VIBRANT WTR®, Hamilton, Ohio
4th Place: Mountain Springs, St Kitts and Nevis, West Indies
5th Place: Lesage Natural, Lesage, West Virginia
People’s Choice Package Design 2023
Gold: Antipodes Water, Otakiri, Whakatane, New Zealand
Silver: Amamizu Water, Fukui City, Japan
Bronze: Clearly Canadian, Marchand, Manitoba, Canada