Alcohol Brands Embrace the Spirit of Competition


Never heard of Delaware Phoenix Distillery? The New York International Spirits Competition wants to make sure that you do.

Delaware Phoenix, a tiny operation in upstate New York producing absinthe and whiskey, was named Distillery of the Year in the first year of the competition, which compared 187 different spirits from around the world.

It’s the first major international spirits competition to be judged by members of the liquor trade, including buyers, bar owners and bartenders, distributors and importers.[more]

The new event, held recently at the Brandy Library in New York City, divides entrants by liquor type and price range. Spirits are judged as Double Gold, Gold, Silver, or Bronze, although not every bottle entered receives a medal.  A Bronze medal indicates a spirit a judge would consider carrying; Silver spirits are ones the judges really like; Gold spirits are ones the judging panel believe are worth promoting to their customers. Gold award winners are re-tasted to establish which brands are eligible for Double Gold status.

Winners in the competition ranged from Gold for Laphroaig 10-year in the category for single malts under  10 years and less than $40 to Silver for Finlandia Vodka among unflavored vodkas selling for less than $25.

Only one spirit was named Double Gold this year: Vizcaya VXOP dark rum ($26-$40 category).

A well-designed and reputable contest such as this is great for brands, and the NYISC knows it. Marketers love independent ratings and competitions; just look at what ratings systems have done for wine.

The fact that the debut round of the event was sparing in its superlative awards is a good sign that this can be a credible tool to help members of the trade and consumers to make decisions about which brands to buy.

It’s also a good sign that plenty of small craft and artisinal brands were represented right along with huge international brands. The NYISC should be one to watch in coming years. Cheers!