At the first-ever London Spirits Competition, 20 spirits from all over the world were awarded the prestigious Gold medal. The top-scoring spirit, The Irishman Single Malt from Walsh Whiskey Distillery, was named the Spirit of the Year.
Spirits were judged on the basis of three primary criteria – quality, value, and packaging – and then scored on a 100-point scale. Spirits that scored 90+ points were awarded Gold medals, while spirits that scored 76 to 89 points were awarded Silver medals.
The primary reason for using three criteria rather than just one was to focus on the overall drinkability of each spirit. As a result, the judging panel ranked spirits not just by how they taste, but also their overall presentation and appearance in the bottle. In addition, judges assessed spirits on their relative value in relation to their peers, as determined by retail pricing.
The breakout star of the event was The Irishman Single Malt from Walsh Whiskey Distillery in Carlow, Ireland. In addition to winning Spirit of the Year, this whiskey also won Best in Show and Whiskey of the Year. Several UK spirits scored high enough to be awarded a Gold medal, including Dewar’s 18 Year Old The Vintage from John Dewar & Sons Ltd, The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey from the Dublin Liberties Whiskey Company, and Tomintoul 16 Years Old Single Malt and Glencadam 19 Years Old Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish Single Malt from Angus Dundee Distillers.
Other notable winners included Nemiroff Honey Pepper Vodka as Vodka of the Year, Ratu Spice Rum as Rum of the Year, High Spirits Gin as Gin of the Year and Angus Dundee Distillers as Distillery of the Year. Also, since winners at the London Spirits Competition were ranked according to quality, value, and packaging, the event recognised those entrants that scored the highest in each of the categories. Slane Irish Whiskey from Brown Forman was the highest-scoring spirit according to value.
The London Spirits Competition was launched in late 2017 by Beverage Trade Network, which organises alcohol beverage industry events all over the world. The goal of the event was to judge spirits the way consumers judge them. In contrast to other spirits competitions, where technical expertise sometimes receives primary consideration at the expense of drinkability, the goal of the London Spirits Competition was to award and celebrate the spirits that spirits drinkers actually want to buy, whether at a retail liquor store or ordering off the menu at a London restaurant.
Sid Patel, chief executive of Beverage Trade Network, said: “At all the major competitions, spirits are judged solely on the quality of what’s in the bottle. We wanted to take a different approach, by asking our judges to look at spirits the way spirits drinkers do, adding appearance and value for money into the mix.
“The best-tasting spirits in the world won’t attract the attention of consumers unless the packaging design and price point appeal to spirits drinkers. People buy products with their eyes first, and that puts a real premium on spirits that are able to offer an attractive presentation, everything from the label to the brand perception.
“Including all three factors into the judging process produces results that are closer to the reality of the way consumers purchase spirits and gives distillers better feedback on how their spirits are perceived by spirits drinkers.”
At the judging session on March 8 and 9, judges tasted and scored spirits on a blind basis before seeing bottles and marking them for on-shelf appeal as well as value for money. This enabled them to come up with an overall score that reflects their overall drinkability.
Sid said: “Launching a new competition is exciting but also daunting, especially when it fundamentally changes the way spirits are judged. We’re delighted with the first-ever London Spirits Competition, which attracted entries from award-winning distilleries from all over Europe, in addition to Australia and the United States.”
Based on the initial success of this year’s London Spirits Competition, Beverage Trade Network plans to run the competition again in 2019 and will be opening up entries towards the end of 2018.
For more information on the London Spirits Competition, visit www.londonspiritscompetition.com.
Spirit of the Year
The Irishman Single Malt – Walsh Whiskey Distillery
Vodka of the Year
Nemiroff Honey Pepper vodka – LVN Limited
Rum of the Year
Ratu Spice Rum – Rum Co Fiji
Gin of the Year
High Spirits Gin – High Spirits Distillery
Whiskey of the Year
The Irishman Single Malt – Walsh Whiskey Distillery
Distillery of the Year
Angus Dundee Distillers, Great Britain
Best in Show (By Country)
Netherlands – Organic Old Gin – BioSpirits BV
Australia – High Spirits Gin – High Spirits Distillery
Denmark – Rum Edition, batch 01 – Fary Lochan Destilleri
France – Puranique Vodka – Global Spirits LLC
Great Britain – Dewar’s 18 Year Old The Vintage – John Dewar & Sons Ltd
Ireland – The Irishman Single Malt – Walsh Whiskey Distillery
United States – Hop Vodka – Drinklab Inc
Gold medal winners
Walsh Whiskey Distillery – The Irishman Single Malt
High Spirits Distillery – High Spirits Gin
John Dewar & Sons Ltd – Dewar’s 18 Year Old The Vintage
Casoni Fabbricazione Liquori – Bitter del Ciclista
The Dublin Liberties Whiskey Company – The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey
Poetic License – Northern Dry Gin
Brimmers Limited – Brimmers Bitters
LVN Limited (Brand – Nemiroff) – Nemiroff Honey Pepper
Poetic License Distillery – Sarsaparilla Gin Liqueur
Piperita Srl – Liquore delle Sirene
Copperhead NV – Copperhead Black Batch
Angus Dundee Distillers – Tomintoul 16 Years Old Single Malt
Angus Dundee Distillers – Glencadam 19 years Old Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish Single Malt
Conker Spirit Ltd – Conker Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
Isle of Skye Distillers LTD – Misty Isle Gin
Quintessential Brands – Opihr Gin
Applewood Distillery – Økar Amaro
Drinklab Inc – Hop Vodka
City of London distillery – Square Mile
Torino Distillati – VII Hills Italian Dry Gin
Silver medal winners
Brown Forman – Slane Irish Whiskey
Northumberland Spirit Company Ltd – Alnwick Gin
L Psenner GmbH – Grappa Barrique Riserva
Dà Mhìle Distillery – Botanical Gin
John Dewar & Sons Ltd – Dewar’s 12 The Ancestor
John Dewar & Sons Ltd – Dewar’s 15 The Monarch
John Dewar & Sons Ltd – Dewar’s 25 The Signature
Naya & Blazquez Associats – Licor de Marialluïsa
Casoni Fabbricazione Liquori – Nocino di Modena
The Oxford Artisan Distillery (TOAD) – Oxford Dry Gin
Orkney Gin Company – Orkney Gin Company Johnsmas
Global Spirits LLC – Puranique Vodka
The Walled Garden Trading Company Ltd – Gordon Castle Scotland Distilled Gin
Angus Dundee Distillers – Tomintoul Tlath Single Malt
Angus Dundee Distillers – Old Ballantruan 15 Years Old
Ben Nevis Distillery – 12 Years Old Deluxe Blend
Alpine Distilling – Preserve Liqueur
Sacred Spirits – English Whisky Liqueur
Bepi Tosolini – Gin T
John Dewar & Sons Ltd – Dewar’s White Label
Spirit Of Harrogate Ltd – Slingsby Navy Strength Gin
The Gower Gin Company Ltd – GWYR – Gower Gin
Applewood Distillery – Espressocello
Lignell & Piispanen – Gustav Dill Vodka
The Dublin Liberties Whiskey Company, part of Quintessential Brands Group – The Dubliner 10 Year Old Irish Whiskey
Rum Co Fiji – Ratu Spice Rum
Rum Co Fiji – Ratu Signature Liqueur
Vodquila LLC – Vodquila
Angus Dundee Distillers – Glencadam Origin Single Malt
Angus Dundee Distillers – Glencadam 13 Years Old Single Malt
For a full list of the Silver Medal and Bronze Medal winners, visit www.londonspiritscompetition.com.