BERKELEY SPRINGS, WV ----- For the first time since 2004, the top five tap water winners at the annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting were towns and cities in the United States. Daytona Beach, FL was indisputably rated the best tasting water in the world, a title they also won in 2005. A pair of California waters – Desert Hot Springs and Santa Ana – won second and third respectively. Desert Hot Springs has won two golds in the past. Oxford, MI and Kent, Ohio round out the list.
Rain water was the big surprise entry and two rain waters won first and fifth in the purified water category. Texan Independence Water from League City, TX won best purified for their harvested rain water; their sister water, Virginia Natural from Charlottesville, won fifth. Bonnie from Pittsburgh was delighted at the win. “It’s the best water I’ve ever tasted,” she said. “It is clean and has none of that after taste that most waters have.” Another Texas water, Rain Fresh won second; it is not harvested rainwater in spite of the name. Mothers Finest of North Carolina was third and Berkeley Springs Purified was fourth.
Bottled water came literally from all over the globe to compete including Argentina, Japan, Tasmania and Switzerland. Selected as best bottled water in the world was perennial entrant but first time winner, Muskoka Springs, Jarratt, ON, Canada. Second place was Pristine Springs from nearby Clear Springs, MD while third was captured by first-time entrant, Highbridge Springs, Wilmore, KY. Almost Heaven, Manassas,VA bottling Berkeley Springs water placed fourth and former gold medalist, English Mountain Springs Water, Dandridge, TN was fifth. A total of 42 bottled waters were tasted.
A special award was presented this year to the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting by the American Water Works Association. Event officials Jeanne Mozier and Jill Klein Rone were recognized for their enduring efforts to preserve and protect drinking water through the water tasting over the past two decades.
More than 150 people watched at the Country Inn in Berkeley Springs on Saturday night as a dozen media judges spent hours tasting 99 waters from 23 states and ten foreign countries. There were 35 municipal waters from 13 states and Canada. "We have six former gold medalists entered this year,” said Klein Rone.
Winning sparkling waters included two Bosnian waters in first and third place, both from Tesanj. The best sparkling water in the world this year is Esparanza with Mountain Valley Springs Water from Hot Springs, AR in second place. Third is Tesanjski Dijament, fourth is Antipodes from New Zealand and fifth is Arctica of Marchand, MB, Canada. “Often the sparklings are all international,” said Klein Rone. “It’s good to see an American water in the line up.” Klein Rone was also pleased at the Bosnian wins. “They’ve been coming to the tasting for years,” she said. Thirteen sparkling waters entered.
Michael Cervin, author and senior editor of BottledWaterWeb.com served as acting watermaster, standing in for perennial watermaster Arthur von Wiesenberger who was unable to attend for only the third time in 21 years. "This is the longest running and largest water tasting in the world," he said. "The granddaddy of them all." Klein Rone was delighted at the crowd and the array of water officials who came from as far away as South Korea and British Columbia to attend the event.
The crowd was interested in the peoples' choice packaging competition where it was their votes that chose which of the 14 entrants was the most alluring. Rainwater scored again when Tasmanian Rain, Tasmania won first. Antipodes of New Zealand with a pleasing rounded shape glass bottle was second. Canadian Gold of Marchand, MB was third and the glamorous gold bottle of Bling H2O from Los Angeles was fourth. Hawaiian Springs rounded out the list in fifth place. Designer John Wilson coached the crowd on various attributes of good packaging. The votes reflected his belief that the winning sleek, tall glass bottle shows a public view of water as a modern product.
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. "I spent about six hours arranging all the waters in a display," said Mozier. "The crowd spent less than ten minutes making it all disappear. It's like a Tibetan sand mandala," she laughed. Most popular among “rushers” this year was the Tasmanian Rain in an elegant tinted glass bottle plus a pair of colorful Hawaiian waters. The champions of the rush were a couple who travel from New York City every year especially for the water tasting.
The dozen media judges selected by Klein Rone from print, radio and the Web were instructed by Cervin to look, sniff and taste each water under guidelines like 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). Waters were tasted in four separate flights over two days.
The 22nd annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting is scheduled for Saturday, February 25, 2012. For more information on Berkeley Springs or its water tasting, call 1-800-447-8797 or check online at www.berkeleysprings.com.
Best Municipal Water 2011
Best in the World – Daytona Beach, FL ( gold in 2005)
Silver –Desert Springs, CA
Bronze – Santa Ana, CA
4th – Oxford, MI
5th – Kent, OH
Best Bottled Water 2011
Gold – Muskoka Springs, Jarratt, Ontario, Canada
Silver – Pristine Springs, Clear Springs, MD
Bronze – Highbridge Springs, Wilmore, KY
4th – Almost Heaven, Manassas,VA bottling Berkeley Springs water
5th – English Mountain Springs Water, Dandridge, TN
Best Sparkling -- 2011
Gold – Esparanza, Tesanj, Bosnia
Silver – Mountain Valley Springs Water, Hot Springs, AR
Bronze – Tesanjski Dijament, Tesanj, Bosnia
4th – Antipodes, Whakatane, New Zealand
5th – Arctica, Marchand, MB, Canada
Best Packaging -- 2011
Gold – Tasmanian Rain, Tasmania
Silver – Antipodes, Whakatane, New Zealand
Bronze – Canadian Gold, Marchand, MB, Canada
4th – Bling H20, Los Angeles, CA
5th – Hawaiian Springs Young Natural Artisan Water, Kea’au, Hawaii
Best Purified Drinking Water – 2011
Gold – Texan Independence Water - League City, TX
Silver– Rain Fresh Oxygen Rich Purified Water - Garland, TX
Bronze – Mothers Finest – Reidsville, NC
4th – Berkeley Springs Purified Water - Berkeley Springs, WV
5th – Virginia Natural Water – Charlottesville, VA