The SIP Awards are attempting to take spirits awards programs in a new direction — by giving consumers a voice. Scheduled for Nov. 14 in Los Angeles, the SIP Awards will be comprised of a judging panel of 100 consumers to blind-taste-test old and new spirits based strictly on aroma, taste and finish.
Consumers applied to be a judge after seeing information in local print and online media outlets, explains Paul Wright, operations manager for SIP Awards. Each application then went through a screening process, including an evaluation of personal profiles, drinking history, preferences and age to ensure a diverse but accurate audience. “All potential judges must exhibit a strong, responsible affinity for spirits and the spirit lifestyle [and be] self-proclaimed yet raw, untrained, unbiased connoisseurs of fine spirits,” Wright says.
The consumer panel differentiates itself from other major spirits competitions, where well-known and much-lauded industry experts sit on judging panels. The aim of the SIP Awards is to eliminate “layers of elaborate marketing, brand recognition, price point disparity and, most critically, the bias of established judges,” according to a statement from show organizers. To further preserve fairness, the awards will not accept sponsorships from spirit companies, affiliates, partners, importers or distributors.
The winning spirits in each category will earn a bronze, silver, gold or platinum ranking, as well as usage rights to the appropriate award.
Entry into the SIP Awards consists of a $300 entry fee, a one-page application and two 750 ml bottles of the spirit supplied for consideration. Early registration (with price break incentives) ends Sept. 4. The final deadline for entries is Oct. 30. For more information, visit www.sipawards.com.