Courtesy of Travel Berkley Springs. Photo by Misty Higgins.
There are several annual occasions whose name is synomous with excellence: the Oscars, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting.
Yes! For those in the bottled water industry, this competition in nearby Berkeley Springs, WV is a must do event. For 22-years, Travel Berkeley Springs has gathered hundreds of water samples from around the world all in the quest to find the best.
For me, this is the sixth time I’ve been asked to serve on the panel of judges. In the world of wine there are connoisseurs and then there are wineos. So, I wonder whether I am indeed a water expert or simply a functioning aquaholic.
First, let me say that, having grown up in Baltimore, I am fully convinced that Charm City has the best municipal water in the world. But, the Berkeley Springs Water Tasting is a blind test and judges are not told which water they’ve given the highest score. So, I cannot say with confidence as to whether I’ve actually given Maryland waters a significant nod of approval in the taste testing process.
The “Master of the Waters,” Arthur Von Wiesenberger instructs judges on the manner in which the water is to be evaluated. First you look, then you sniff, then you taste. It’s pretty easy for judges to get the idea as Von Wiesenberger tutors the judges with water samples. Judges are asked to rate the H2O on clarity, odor, flavor, mouth feel, after taste and overall impression.
Now, before you conclude that all water is created equal, let me assure you there are major differences, particularly in the smell and taste of municipal waters. These have strong odors resembling a swimming pool, bleach, rotting leaves, or a wet dog. Some of the bottled waters smell like plastic and taste like it, too.
After the tasting, scores from the 11 judges are tabulated. Winners are awarded trophies and bragging rights that their water is considered the best in their category.
The envelope please! This year’s winners are:
Greenwood, BC, Canada for Municipal Water
Claire Baie, Oak Creek, WI for Purified Water
Esperanza, Tesanj, Bosnia for Carbonated Bottled
Jackson Springs Natural Premium Spring Water, MB, Canada for Non-Carbonated Bottled.
Congratulations to the winners. Better luck next year, Maryland.
Mark Kraham is the News Director at WHAG TV in Hagerstown. For more about this unique event, visit http://www.berkeleysprings.com/water/about.htm.