The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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twenty-five producers from around the world including China, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Bosnia and Italy have sent their best waters to be judged in America. Can water be all that important? For starters, in the U.S. alone, bottled water sales hover at about $15 billion annually. In 1991, the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting F Judge Michael Cervin examines the clarity of the water. was first organized to create a comprehensive water competi- tion much like those for wine and spirits. It is the oldest and longest-running water competition of its kind and celebrated its 20th anniversary in February. Entries are judged in five cat- egories: bottled water, sparkling water, purified water, munici- pal water and people’s choice of packaging design. or two decades, the tiny hamlet of Berkeley Springs, in the panhandle of West Virginia, has hosted the waters of the world in an annual water taste-off. One hundred The 12 judges are predominately media, but also people in the water industry, including myself, a frequent judge at wine competitions in California. Berkeley Springs is, in reality, a logical choice to host a water competition since it was George Washington who laid out the town and aggressively promoted the natural spring water that still flows to the surface at 74 degrees. People have come to this spot for hundreds of years to drink, bathe and “take the waters.” As bottled water sales and status increase, more companies are looking to tap into an already flooded market. As evidence of this, there were more first-time entries into the competition this year. Kunlan Mountain Mineral Water from China entered its premium water, the first for any Chinese water company. “We know that Berkeley Springs is very famous and the most well-respected water competition in the world,” says Carol Liu of Beijing’s Shunya Profuture PR, who brought the Kunlun water to Berkeley Springs. Their water, dripping from mountain glaciers in the Kunlun Mountains, will be released in China in April. Family-owned brand Waiwera Artesian Water from New Zealand did not enter this year’s competition, but has entered and won in the past. Their water is sourced from a geothermal aquifer believed to be several miles deep and has a april 2010 / the tasting panel / 109

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