SAN FRANCISCO, California – The San Francisco World Spirits Competition hosted its 14th annual competition on March 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th at the elegant Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco. Continuing its tradition of record-breaking entries annually, this year the number of submissions totaled 1,474 from 41 states, 64 countries covering 89 classifications. Many categories of spirits experienced a marked increase this year most notably American Craft Whiskey, Gin and Single Malt Scotch. Also of note this year was the increased entries of the Chinese spirit, Baijiu. Often a harbinger of trends in the marketplace, the competition is considered to be the rite of passage for top quality spirits as it has 39 of the world’s top professional palates serving as judges.
Anthony Dias Blue, Executive Director of the competition states, “Every year with this event we see the emerging trends in the spirits category, often our event is a launchpad for a burgeoning trend to be taken seriously. Prior to our event, smaller categories such as Pisco, Calvados, Cachaça and Mezcal were little known in this country, now bartenders and journalists worldwide turn their attention to our results to gauge the marketplace. Of particular note this year were the growing number of American distilled products, I’m particularly excited about the rise in quality American Whiskey,” stated Blue.
Best in Show Awards, which are the top five awards of the event, went to WAQAR Pisco ($36) from Pisquera Tulahuen in Chile, Best in Show Un-Aged White Spirit out of a 577 submissions. Best in Show Aged White Spirit went to Bounty Over Proof (58% ABV) Rum ($47) from Lautoka, Fiji out of 179 submissions. Best in Show Whisky went to Glencadam Highland Single Malt Aged 21 Years ($120) from Angus Dundee Distillers in the Highlands of Scotland out of 245 whisky submissions. Best in Show Brandy was awarded to LeCompte 25 Year Old Calvados ($279) from the Calvados LeCompte Pays d’Auge in France out of 123 brandy submissions and finally Best in Show Liqueur went to Grand Marnier’s Cuvee du Centennaire, 100th Anniversary Liqueur ($200) out of 170 entries. Of special note this year was a first time category, specialty cocktail mixers, which was won by Ballast Point Mai Tai Mix ($6) for Best Cocktail Mixer.
Awarded annually, this year’s Tasting Panel Magazine Distillery of the Year went to Midleton Distillery of Ireland with both their Midleton Irish Whiskey and Redbreast Irish Whiskey receiving a total of 3 Double Gold Medals and 3 Gold Medals including Best Irish Whiskey for their Redbreast 15 Year Old. Importer of the Year went to Pernod Ricard USA of New York, NY for the 2nd year in a row, and the Director’s Award of excellence went to Campari America, headquartered in San Francisco for its excellent portfolio of spirits.
A complete list of awards categorically will be posted to the San Francisco World Spirits Competition website on April 9th, please visit http://sfspiritscomp.com/ at that time for more information.
Thirty-nine international judges gathered this year with five new judges joining including: Erik Adkins, Beverage Director Slanted Door Group, San Francisco; Brian Bowden, VP Spirits, Beer, Tobacco, Beverages for BevMo!; Sean Bucalo Craft Spirits Specialist, Young’s Market Co; Tony Devencenzi, Director Beverage Academy, Bourbon & Branch, San Francisco; and Max Solano, Mixologist and Beverage Manager Emeril’s Restaurants, Las Vegas. Tony Abou-Ganim, aka the Modern Mixologist has directed the judging now for his 5th year and says of the event, “I’m flattered and humbled to be a part of a competition with some of the best palates in the world. I look forward to it all year and it is a great way for an established or unknown spirit to gain credibility in this business. The winners feel the impact of the competition’s results in significant ways and use the results to help build both their sales and reputations globally.” For more information about the judges, please visit http://sfspiritscomp.com/about/judges.
About the Competition
Founded in the new millennium year of 2000 by noted wine & spirits critic and competition director Anthony Dias Blue, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition has gained a reputation as the leading gauge for spirits trends and top quality products in the country. Noted journalists, distillers, beverage directors, mixologists, restaurateurs, Master Sommeliers, hoteliers, consultants, educators comprise the august body of judges. The continued double-digit growth of entries annually points to an undeniable love affair with distillate products in the United States.
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