With so many spirits brands competing for space any premium back bar how do you choose one vodka, or gin, or whisky, or mezcal over another. Well the medal winner in the second London Spirits Competition could be the place to look for not only is it judged by leading bar tenders and managers, but it judges products for their quality, what they look like and, vitally, for their value for money. Here are all the highlights from the 415 medals awarded in the 2019 competition.
The medal winners for the 2019 London Spirits Competition have been announced which show both a marked increase in the number of entries and medals awarded for what is the second year of this breakthrough international spirits awards event.
What makes the London Spirits Competition different from its peers is that it does not just taste the spirits blind and base its decisions and medals on that, but goes two steps further. First it takes off the cover to reveal the spirit’s label, design and packaging and asks its judges to base a proportion of its scores on what spirits look like, and how successful it is in the story it is trying to tell, and then equally crucially from a consumer’s point of view how does the brand’s look, feel, taste and quality match up to its price point. Does it offer the consumer true value for money?
That’s why the London Spirits Competition can lay claim to the fact it is a competition that puts the interests of the consumers first as it is through their eyes the judges are tasked with making their decisions.
The overall medal scores are given as follows:
- Quality score: marked out of 50
- Value score: marked out of 25
- Packaging score: marked out of 25
To win a Gold you need to score 90 points or more. For a Silver it is 76-89 and Bronze it is 65-75.
As there was such a big uplift in entires for this year’s competition it is therefore not surprising to see a proportionate rise in the number of medals awarded – with a total of 415 medals, broken down as 26 Golds, 133 Silvers and 253 Bronzes.
Spirit of the Year
The best performing brand overall with a score of 96 went to Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey from the United States. Followed by gin from South Africa, the Deep South Cape Dry, from the Deep South Distillery that was awarded 93 points.
There was a raft of products with 92 points including:
- Harahorn Small Batch Gin, from Det Norske Brenneri in Norway
- Lark Distillery Single Malt Whisky from Australia
- OX44 gin from Bob Clark Chalgrove Artisan Distillery in the UK
- IBA 40, Mezcales El Viejo Manuelon from Mexico
- DG Exclusive American Single Malt from the Deep South Distillery in South Africa
- Tequila Huizache Origen whisky from Heaven’s Door LLC in the US.
Other standout awards include:
Vodka of the Year: Vural Vodka from Josef Farthofer in Austria
Rum of the Year: Virago Four-Port Rum Finished In Ruby Port Casks, Virago Spirits, US.
Tequila of the Year: Tequila Huizache Origen, Excelencia Tequilera de Jalisco, Mexico.
Gin of the Year: Deep South Cape Dry, Deep South Distillery, South Africa
Whisky of the Year: Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey, Heaven’s Door LLC, US
Distillery of the Year: Excelencia Tequilera de Jalisco. Mexico
Best Spirit by Quality: Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey, Heaven’s Door LLC, US.
Best Spirit By Value: Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey, Heaven’s Door LLC, US
Best Spirit by Package: Palma Gin. Mallorca Distillery, Spain.
The judging panel was a who’s who from the bar and spirits community featuring a host of well known bartenders, bar owners and innovators across spirits and mixology. They included:
- Dan Panzanaro, head bartender The Waldorf Hilton, London
- Tiago Mira head bartender, head creative mixologist at Annabel’s Club in Berkeley Square
- Luke Ridge, head bartender, Rumpus Room, Mondrian Hotel, London
- Luca Rapetti, head bartender at Brown’s Hotel
- Michele Reina European Brand Ambassador at Luxco, Inc
- Stefano Tatti, head bartender/mixologist, Craft London
- Rui Tavares, head bartender, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
- Aurelie Montana, bartender in the Corinthia Hotel, London
- Georgia Billing, bar manager at Din Tai Fung.
You can see the full list of judges here.
- To find out more about the London Spirits Competition and how it is organised and the details for next year’s competition then go to its website here. The competition is part of a series of “London” awards run by the Beverage Trade Network including Wines and Beers. The results from which will be released shortly.