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Water, an essential element, is known to have a huge impact on how we look and feel. But great-tasting water, at least to experts that participate in the annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, is an art form.
In late February, a panel of 10 judges gathered in front of a crowd of water enthusiasts from around the world to determine the world's best water. The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, an annual event held in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, has been ranking water by "appearance, aroma, taste, mouth feel and aftertaste," since 1991.
This year, waters were selected from 14 U.S. states, 11 foreign countries and five Canadian provinces. The 2019 categories included Best Municipal Water (aka tap water), Best Bottled Water, Best Sparkling, Best Purified Drinking Water, Best Flavored Essence Sparkling and a People's Choice category for Best Packaging.
For those looking to ditch bottled water and enjoy water that's clear and crisp straight from the faucet, the panel awarded the best municipal tap water in the U.S to Eldorado, Colorado, which was a first-time municipal winner. The bronze went to a returning champion, Independence, Missouri, and fourth place went to a repeat winner, Desert Hot Springs, California. For the first time ever, the water-tasting convention host, Berkeley Springs, received fifth place.
The panel's perennial water master Arthur von Wiesenberger noted that many of the winners receive medals multiple times: “The consistency in winners from year to year with different panels of judges validates the choices. It also speaks to the impressively high caliber of the waters entered.”
The best bottled water in the U.S. went to Grand Springs from Alton, Virginia, which placed second to a bottler in Sardinia, Italy. The best sparkling water in the world, Mountain Valley Spring Water Sparkling, hails from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Mountain Valley also received first place in flavored essence sparkling water for its Blackberry Pomegranate. Berkeley Springs Purified Water from Berkeley Springs, West Virginia also placed first in the world.
The only category where the U.S. didn't bring home a gold or silver for best in show, was for best packaging. But maybe Florida-based La Croix can figure out a new way to earn design points next year.
“It was another wonderful year for the longest running and largest water tasting in the world,” said von Wiesenberger. “Berkeley Springs is the Academy Awards of water.”