Manchester’s Stoller Hall was the venue last night for the inaugural standalone People’s Choice Spirits Awards and the chance to bring together leading lights from across the world of spirits to recognise some of the best producers, brands and distilleries in an event attended by a room full of the spirits, bar and cocktail industries’ brightest stars. From premium whiskies and sipping tequilas, to spirits retailers and independent bars, here are the stars of 2022.
Millie Milliken, an award-winning drinks writer in her own right, looks back on the results of the People’s Choice Spirits Awards and highlights the main winners from a fun-packed evening.
A Monday night in February wouldn’t usually be a hot night in the drinks calendar, but when it comes to the People’s Choice Drinks Awards, it’s a no-brainer. And last night proved just that as the great and the good descended on the award-winning music venue, Stoller Hall, from all across the country to celebrate some of the best spirits, bar and retail companies in the UK right now.
Bartenders, brand owners, marketeers, producers and journalists – and more – gathered in the Manchester venue to find out who had taken the titles in each of the categories as well as take advantage of the awards being the first opportunity this year to see and celebrate industry friends. There was also the chance to vote for The Story Behind The Label Video Challenge (sponsored by The Buyer) award, which tasked brands with creating a two-minute video about the making and shaping of their spirits. All videos will be available to view on the People’s Choice Drinks Awards Youtube channel.
Presented by The Three Drinkers presenters Helena Nicklin and Aidy Smith (with some comic interludes from Britain’s Got Talent finalist Steve Royle), this year’s awards was a first for the The People’s Choice. 2022 marked the first time that co-organisers Janet Harrison and Judy Kendrick have run a competition entirely dedicated to the spirits industry.
It came after 2021 saw the duo add eight spirits categories to the already popular People’s Choice Wine Awards – now, 19 categories represent the industry. It was clearly a clever move – submissions for the 2022 awards tripled from 2021 and companies who entered ranged from heavy weights like Emporia Brands, Brown Forman and William Grant & Sons, to smaller, independent brands like AB Rum, Whitebox Drinks and everything in between.
Indeed, for spirits brands these awards offer some pretty big rewards (on top of the chance to be a proud owner of one of its trophies or medals).
One is that every single finalist will be listed on the awards’ website’s soon-to-launch Drinks Finder which will focus on six key drinking occasions (including Aperitivo, Celebration and Cosy Night In), making it even easier for consumers to get their hands on some of the best products on the market. Another is that, just like the wine awards, entries have been judged first by consumers, and second by key players in the drinks on-trade, from buyers and importers to journalists. We can’t think of another awards that gets product into the hands of captive buyers at so many touchpoints.
This year’s entries were also an exciting reflection of the trends driving the spirits and cocktail market in 2022. Mindful Drinking was a particularly popular category this year, reflecting the exponential growth – and upping in quality – of the no and low movement; as was The Great Outdoors category which showcases ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails and mixed drinks, from Bloody Mary’s to hard seltzers. Oh and, of course, plenty of gin.
And the winners are…
WINNER: Everleaf Mountain, submitted by: Everleaf
GOLD: Three Spirit – Livener, submitted by: Beyond Alcohol Ltd.
SILVER: New Dawn, submitted by: The Devant Drinks Company
WINNER: Bloody Classic, submitted by: Bloody Drinks
GOLD: Pocket Negroni, submitted by: Whitebox
SILVER: Sipsmith Zesty Orange Gin & Tonic, submitted by: Sipsmith
Rum: On The Rocks
WINNER: AB Gold Rum, submitted by: AB Gold Rum
GOLD: Decorrum Spiced, submitted by: Decorrum Ltd
SILVER: Brass Neck, submitted by: Brass Neck Rum Ltd
Rum: Spice Up Your Life
WINNER: Discarded Banana Peel Rum, submitted by: William Grant And Sons Ltd
GOLD: Sly Dog Spiced Rum, submitted by: The SLY Group Ltd
SILVER: Dead Man’s Fingers Spiced Rum, submitted by: Halewood Artisanal Spirits
Rum: Easy Weekday
WINNER: Beach Bum Silver, submitted by: Beach Bum Beverages Ltd
GOLD: Salford Honey Rum, submitted by: The Salford Rum Company
SILVER: AB Gold Rum, submitted by: AB Gold Rum
Gin: The Classic G&T
WINNER: Tobermory Limited Edition Hebridean Mountain Gin, submitted by: Distell International
GOLD: Sky Garden Gin, submitted by: Dark Art Gin Ltd t/a Dark Art Distillery
SILVER: Whitley Neill London Dry Gin, submitted by: Halewood Artisanal Spirits
Gin: Gin Fusion
WINNER: Atlas Love Cake Gin, submitted by: Atlas Spirits Ltd
GOLD: Kingdom’s Ginger Spiced Gin, submitted by: Kingdom Recommends Ltd
SILVER: Thai Inspired, submitted by: Foxtail Distillery
Gin: The Contemporary G&T
WINNER: Byron’s Gin – Bird Cherry, submitted by: Speyside Distillers Company Ltd
GOLD: Foghouse, submitted by: Foghouse Spirits
SILVER: G’Vine Floraison Gin, submitted by: Maison Villevert
WINNER: El Tequileño Reposado Gran Reserva, submitted by: Jorge Salles Cuervo y Sucs S.A de C.V
GOLD: El Tequileño Añejo Gran Reserva, submitted by: Jorge Salles Cuervo y Sucs S.A de C.V
WINNER: Finlandia Grapefruit, submitted by: Brown Forman
GOLD: JJ Whitley Vanilla Vodka, submitted by: Halewood Artisanal Spirits
Vodka: Small Batch Vodka
WINNER: Broken Clock Vodka, submitted by: Broken Clock Vodka (The Hidgate Ltd)
GOLD: Royal Mash Vintage Vodka 2020, submitted by: Royal Mash Limited
SILVER: Kingdom’s Vodka, submitted by: Kingdom Recommends Ltd
Whisky/Whiskey: Easy Weekday
WINNER: Daddy Rack Tennessee Straight Small Batch Whiskey, submitted by: Emporia Brands Ltd.
GOLD: Woven, Experience N.1, submitted by: wonderhouse
SILVER: The Gauldrons, submitted by: Douglas Laing & Co
Whisky/Whiskey: Treat Yourself
WINNER: Bunnahabhain 12yo Single Malt Scotch Whisky, submitted by: Distell International
GOLD: Spey Chairman’s Choice, submitted by: Speyside Distillers Company Ltd
SILVER: Black Bull 21yo, submitted by: Duncan Taylor Scotch Whiskies Ltd.
Liqueurs: Short & Sweet (Fruit)
WINNER: Gabriel Boudier Crème de Cassis de Dijon, submitted by: Emporia Brands Ltd.
Liqueurs: Short & Sweet (cream)
WINNER: Amarula Cream Liqueur, submitted by: Distell International
GOLD: The Norfolk PX, submitted by: Mangrove Global Ltd
Best Online Spirits Retailer 2022
WINNER: Distillers Direct
Best Spirits Supermarket 2022
Best Independent Spirits Retailer 2022
WINNER: The Spirit Specialist, Howden
Best Independent Bar 2022 (sponsored by Master of Malt Trade)
WINNER: Below Stairs, Leeds
The Story Behind The Label Video Challenge (sponsored by The Buyer)
- To find our more about the awards go to the People’s Choice Spirits Awards website here.