The sniffing, spitting and sipping for the People’s Choice Spirits Awards judging sessions have all been done and we can now reveal the finalists for the 2022 event. Here Janet Harrison, founder of the People’s Choice Drinks Awards, explains how she is looking forward to holding the first standalone spirits awards in January, and the plans for the wine awards that are now open for entries.
To find out who is made it through to be a finalist in the People’s Choice Spirits Awards then click here. To catch up on the People’s Choice Wine awards – and take advantage of early bird pricing before December 12 click here.
The People’s Choice Drinks Awards stand out from other competitions as it actually includes the end consumer in its judging process. It means any product that wins a medal or trophy can justifiably claim to be a people’s favourite.
Every year the judging is split into two rounds. The first is where drinks enthusiasts are invited to enter from which a panel of judges – namely consumers – are selected to take part in determining which products go through to the second round, with the help and guidance of drinks professionals.
Janet Harrison, founder of the People’s Choice Drinks Awards says the “aim is to find a panel that represents the diversity of the UK drinks buying public”.
For the spirits awards it is hoped the results “will provide a valuable message to producers and suppliers of spirits in the UK and also help others make better choices when buying spirits,” says Harrison. The key is to find genuine spirits’ lovers who are able to “share their views with others”.
Here Harrison explains in more detail what was involved.
How did the entries and judging pan out for the spirits awards?
We were so chuffed to receive three times the number of entries this year. We’ve had submissions from small artisan producers through to large importers and pretty much everything in between – it has been hard work but great. We also carried out judging sessions in Edinburgh, Manchester and London with over 90 people taking part, including consumers and professionals.
We decided to invite the wider hospitality trade to join our core Round 2 professional panel – which was brilliant. As well as the judging sessions being a lot of fun, it was a great way for distillers, brand ambassadors and bar owners to network with each other, as well as tasting an amazing range of spirits.
What trends did you see from the products entered into the spirits awards?
As well as our ever-popular gin and spiced rum categories, we received a lot of low/no alcohol and canned cocktail (RTD) entries. This goes to prove the rising popularity of both categories.
We’ve also had the nominations in from all the professional judges for our Best Retailer categories as well as the coveted Best Independent Bar Award, sponsored by Master of Malt. I’m sure they’ll be delighted to appear on the list. Each of the shortlisted retailers and bars will receive a social media graphic to share on their channels to encourage votes – literally those with the most votes will win. The results will be announced at the awards ceremony on January 17 at Stoller Hall in Manchester.
Highlights from the retailer awards shortlist include:
Best Online Spirits Retailer
The Whisky Exchange
Master of Malt
Best Spirits Supermarket
Best Independent Spirits Retailer
The Spirit Specialist, Howden
Berry Brothers & Rudd, London
Best Independent Bar
Trailer Happiness, London
The Pineapple Club, Birmingham
Below Stairs, Leeds
Sponsor: Master of Malt
What can we look forward to at the People’s Choice Spirits Awards 2022 in Manchester?
Despite now being a Britain’s Got Talent finalist and enjoying a more global audience, we are still fortunate to have our friend, the hilarious Steve Royle, as the MC for our event (expect juggling). Now being hosted in the Oglesby Atrium within The Stoller Hall, just opposite Victoria Train Station in Manchester. We also took the decision to limit numbers to a maximum of 150 attending, in a space which can accommodate 400 people – it seems sensible under the circumstance.
Aidy Smith and Helena Nicklin, from The Three Drinkers will be presenting the awards to each of the winners. Cartoonist Tony Husband has been busy creating additional limited-edition cartoons for our new categories. As usual, the vibe at the event will be fun and informal with comedy, great food and drink and live music too.
Tickets are £65pp and we’ve created a ticket link here: https://peopleschoicedrinksawards.com/product/buy-tickets-for-2022-spirits-awards/
Can you tell us about any changes to the People’s Choice Wine Awards that are now open for entry?
We’ve already had a good number of entries through to our new Drink Fairtrade category, sponsored by Fairtrade Foundation. As the news has kindly been distributed by Wines of South Africa, we’ve also had their producers entering other categories too – we are anticipating a bumper year for South African submissions.
We are also thrilled to have lots of canned wine entries – taking advantage of our bursary to reduce the cost of submitting by £30. The specific link to apply for a bursary is here. There is a maximum of three bursaries available per producer or supplier.
We are also really pleased to be working with The Buyer as sponsor of our special video categories both the spirits and wine awards. Here we are looking for drinks businesses to send in a video submission that explains what their company and brands are all about. It is free to enter and we require a two minute video which demonstrates the story behind the brand – showcasing the sheer hard work and passion which goes to produce the drinks we love. We’ll show the four shortlisted films during the presentation at the ceremony and will collect audience votes on the night.
How about the entry process for the People’s Choice Wine Awards?
The overall early bird price of £80 will come to an end on December 12 and then the entry fee will be £120. The deadline is online entries is February 20 and February 28 for delivery.
We’ve also appointed Sensible Wine Services to consolidate and co-ordinate the deliveries and distribution to judging sites for 2022. We are a very small team and as the competitions have grown so much, we need their expertise in this area. This also makes for a more sustainable business model, for the future.
Judging (Round 1 and Round 2) for the wine awards will take place in March – in Manchester and London – the latter being at the WSET school in Bermondsey Street.
- To read the full list of People’s Choice Wine Awards’ categories click here.
- To see the finalists for the People’s Choice Spirits Awards click here.
- The Buyer is media partner to both the People’s Choice Wine and Spirits awards.