Along with new spring cocktail menus, the season brings the results of the two major all-around spirits competitions, so this time, I’ll turn this page over to the well-deserved winners. (Full disclosure: I judged at this year's Ultimate Spirits Challenge.)
At the San Francisco World Spirits Competition: Best in Show - Unaged White Spirit and Best Gin went to Sloane's Gin (Netherlands), while Best in Show - Aged White Spirit and Mescal went to Sinai Reposado. Best in Show Whiskey and Rye went to Thomas H. Handy's Kentucky Straight Rye. Cognac Ferrand's Landy Cognac XO captured Best in Show Brandy and Cognac, while Best in Show Liqueur/Other Spirit went to Mozart Dry Chocolate Spirit (Austria).
Other winners: Best Vodka, Pure (Canada); Best Flavored Vodka, Finlandia Grapefruit Fusion (Finland); Best White Rum, Toz White Gold (St. Lucia); and Best Extra-Aged Rum, Pusser's 15 Year Old (British Virgin Islands). Best Shochu was awarded to Kai Young Coconut Shochu/Soju (Vietnam) and Best Cachaca was given to Leblon (Brazil). Best Silver Tequila, Espolon; Best Reposado Tequila, Excellia; Best Anejo Tequila, El Tesoro; and Best Extra-Aged Anejo Tequila and Tequila overall was given to Don Julio Extra-Aged Anejo Real.
Whisky winners: Best Bourbon, George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon; Best Irish Whiskey, Michael Collins 10 Year Old Single Malt Irish; Best Blended Scotch, Kingdom 17 Year Old Scotch; Best Single Malt Whisky, Caol Ila Distillers Edition; and Best Other Whisky, Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky, Aged 18 Years (Japan). Best Armagnac, Chateau de LaBaude Armagnac 1981; Best Calvados, Christian Drouin Calvados Pays d'Auge 1990; Best Pisco, ORO Pisco Italia Mosto Verde (Peru); Best Fruit Liqueur, Ventura Orangecello Blood Orange Liqueur (California); Best Herbal/Botanical Liqueur, Luxardo Sambuca (Italy); and Best Cream Liqueur, Gold Chocolate Cream Liqueur (Austria). Full results at www.sfspiritscomp.com.
In New York, the Ultimate Spirits Challenge Chairman’s trophy went to Finlandia for Best Vodka, Ketel One Citroen for Best Flavored Vodka, Beefeater London Dry for Best Gin and Dos Maderas PX 5 + 5 Rum for Best Rum/Cachaca. In the tequila group, the Best Blanco Tequila trophy went to Olmeca Plata, the Best Reposado Tequila trophy went to Cabo Wabo Reposado, the Best Anejo trophy went to Calle 23 Anejo, and the Best Extra Anejo Tequila trophy went to Grand Mayan Extra Anejo. The Best Mezcal trophy went to El Tinieblo Joven. The Best Blended Irish Whiskey trophy went to Michael Collins Blended Irish, while the Best Single Malt Irish Whiskey trophy went to Tyrconnell Madeira Finish 10 Year Old Single Malt.
As in San Francisco, George T. Stagg 17 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon took top honors for American Kentucky Straight Bourbon, while the Best American Rye Whiskey trophy went to Sazerac 18 Year Old. Other whiskey winners: Best Canadian Whisky to Canadian Mist Black Diamond Blended; Best Blended Scotch to Dewar's 18 Year Old Blended; Best Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Islay to Lagavulin Distiller's Edition; Best Single Malt, Speyside to the Balvenie Peated 17 Year Old; Best Scotch Whisky, Islands to Highland Park 18 Year Old; and the Best Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Cask Strength to Aberlour a'bunadh. Best Armagnac, Delord 25 Year Old Bas-Armagnac; Best Calvados, Boulard Grand Solage VSOP Pays d'Auge; Best Cognac, Martell XO; Best World Brandy, Unaged to Remy Martin V Grape Spirits; and Best World Brandy, Aged to Cardenal Mendoza Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez. Stroh Jagertee Liqueur and Merlet Creme de Cassis took top honors among liqueurs, while Lillet Rosé won for Best Aperitif. Total results viewable at www.ultimate-beverage.com/usc2011results.
But award season isn’t over: The Spirits International Prestige (SIP) Awards takes a different approach, with judging done solely by consumers instead of industry professionals. Consumers are invited to submit their credentials at the awards Website, where you also can view previous winners - click here to get involved. Competition to be held in June.