Gone is the quick shot at the end of the night; now, drinking clear spirits is all about sipping the most carefully distilled, refined and infused choices on the market.
The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) predicts that in 2014, premium aged tequila and mezcal will become popular and people will request the brands they want by name, rather than generic gin or vodka.
With this in mind, here are some of the spirits awarded an IWSC medal (the premier contest of its kind in the world).
QuiQuiRiQui means cock-a-doodle-doo in Spanish, and is the brand behind QuiQuiRiQui San Juan Del Rio Mezcal Espadin Joven (£38.75, 70cl, 48 percent abv, www.thewhiskyexchange.com). Made from Espadin agave, it is roasted in earthen pits and this terroir driven, young (joven) mezcal has a smoky, almost whisky like flavour with floral notes and a fruity, nutty essence on the rich mouthfeel.
In contrast, mezcal’s Mexican cousin tequila is made from blue Weber agave and slowly baked in steam ovens. It comes in three different styles - blanco, reposado and anejo. Blanco (aka silver) is clear, and a fine example is IWSC Gold medal winner Sierra Milenario Tequila Blanco (£49.99, 70cl, 41.5pc abv, www.drinkshop.com). Smooth and clean with a spicy bite on the second sip, it can be enjoyed straight up over ice.
IWSC silver medal winner St Nicholas Abbey White Rum (£40, 70cl, 40pc abv, www.masterofmalt.com) is from Barbados. Punchy yet smooth, with vanilla and exotic spices punctuated with tropical fruits, its warm, Caribbean charm and complex profile single it out for rum-based cocktails when you need a certain calibre of flavour.