The San Francisco World Spirits Competition hosted its 15th annual competition at Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco. Continuing its tradition of record-breaking entries annually, this year the number of submissions totaled 1580 (up 7% from the year before) from 41 states, 66 countries covering 90 classifications. Many categories of spirits experienced a marked increase this year most notably Gin (nearly triple the entries in 3 years), Bourbon, Rye Whiskey and Single Malt Scotch.
Always a harbinger of trends in the marketplace, the competition is considered to be the rite of passage for top quality spirits as it has 41 of the world’s top professional palates serving as judges.
The competition has mirrored, and spurred, the spirits industry’s explosive growth over the last 15 years. The inaugural 2000 World Spirits Competition welcomed 12 judges and 292 entries in 59 categories.
“Over the last 15 years as we’ve witnessed this explosive growth in spirits, we also note that the further sub-categorization of aging and types of spirits is proliferating,” said competition director and spirits guru Anthony Dias Blue.
In addition to ace palates, glassware is as paramount to the high performance outcome of competition as the liquid it holds. For the first time in its 15-year run, the competition featured exclusively the NEAT glass. The new industry standard for spirits tasting, with a patented design, NEAT glasses are scientifically engineered with a compressed lip and flared rim to enhance the judging experience.
- 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition – 2015 Top Awards:
Leading winners from the sweepstakes included Best in Show Un-Aged White Spirit went to Kappa Pisco ($35), Elqui Valley, Chile out of 603 submissions.
- Best in Show Aged White Spirit was awarded to Parce 12 Year Old Rum ($60) from Columbia out of 169 submissions.
- Best in Show Whisky went to Craigellachie Single Malt Aged 23 Years ($297) from Speyside, Scotland out of 497 whisky submissions (last year there were 297.)
- Best in Show Brandy was awarded to Gautier Tradition Rare Cognac ($165) from Charente, France out of 118 brandy submissions
- and finally Best in Show Liqueur went to Croizet Liqueur d’Orange au Cognac ($179) out of 154 entries.
- Other highlights included Best Gin, which went to Master’s Dry Gin ($39), Barcelona, Spain out of 134 entries,
- Best Bourbon which went to Kentucky’s Knob Creek 9 Year Old Small Batch Bourbon ($31) out of 95 Bourbons,
- Best Tequila went to Villa Lobos Reposado Tequila ($47) from Jalisco, Mexico;
- and Best Vodka went to Colorado’s Woody Creek Single Potato Vodka ($32) out of 168 entries.
Awarded annually, this year’s Tasting Panel Magazine Distillery of the Year went to Kavalan Distillery of Taiwan. Importer of the Year went to Diageo North America, and the Director’s Award of Excellence went to Beam Suntory Inc., headquartered in Deerfield, IL for its portfolio of spirits. Additionally, in the Packaging Competition this year there were 22 Double Gold medals awarded, the most ever. There were 143 entries presided over by 3 judges.