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Fresh off its highly-acclaimed debut earlier this year, the USA Spirits Ratings competition will be returning for a second year in San Francisco on July 21, 2019. Entries are now open for domestic spirits producers. For domestic distilleries looking to gain wider recognition within the U.S. marketplace, the USA Spirits Ratings event is a fantastic opportunity to get in front of the industry’s most influential tastemakers.
Image: Spirits Judge examining and tasting various spirits drinks at 2018 USA Spirits Ratings
The USA Spirits Ratings is particularly noteworthy for being the only competition of its kind in the U.S. that rates spirits according to three key variables: Quality, Value and Package. This is in sharp contrast to other international spirits competitions, in which taste is the only variable that matters. The Value criterion takes into account the relative cost of a bottle vis-à-vis its peers. This is important from the perspective of consumers, who are looking for the biggest bang for their buck. In addition, the Package criterion takes into account the overall presentation of the bottle and how well the spirit appeals to a specific customer demographic.
Beverage Trade Network, the organizers of the event, first pioneered this approach to judging spirits at the London Spirits Competition earlier this year. “Our revolutionary approach to judging spirits seems to have really struck a chord with both commercial buyers and consumers,” says Sid Patel, CEO and Founder of Beverage Trade Network. “Clearly, something has changed in the way people buy and sell spirits today, and we are trying to capture that new approach with our new judging system.”
Image: Man Pouring Coppercraft Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey in a glass
At the 2018 event, the Spirit of the Year was Coppercraft Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which received a total of 95 points, making it the highest-scoring entrant at the competition. Coppercraft Distillery also won a Gold Medal for its Coppercraft Distillery Blend of Straight Bourbon. Other Gold Medal-winning spirits at the 2018 USA Spirits Ratings scoring 90+ points included Belaruska Wheat (Belarus), Forest Raspberry Spirit (Germany), The Dubliner Master Distillers Reserve (Ireland), Skeptic Gin (United States), No. 4 Rye Whiskey (United States), Fusion Single Malt (India), and Skyline Amsterdam Organic (Netherlands).
This year’s USA Spirits Ratings event saw a number of notable international distilleries and overseas producers represented in the competition, including the UK’s John Dewar & Sons, which took home the Distillery of the Year award. Other overseas winners in the competition included Lautergold Paul Schubert GmbH from Germany, BioSpirits from the Netherlands and Amrut from India. “Overall, we were very impressed by the number and quality of these overseas distilleries,” says Sid Patel of Beverage Trade Network. “We’ve reached a real tipping point in the spirits industry, where world-class whiskey, vodka and rum is being produced literally all over the world.”
To showcase the depth of international competition, the USA Spirits Ratings event will continue to award “Best in Show by Country” to the very best spirits from around the world. For example, at the 2018 show, “Best in Show by Country” recognition was awarded to producers from Belarus, Germany, Ireland, the United States, India and the Netherlands.
The list of awards to be handed out at the July 2019 show in San Francisco includes the following:
In addition to the new judging system that awards points to spirits on the basis of Quality, Value and Package, the USA Spirits Ratings event is noteworthy for its selection of judges. All judges are required to have commercial buying expertise, as well as significant experience in evaluating spirits from a consumer-centric perspective. The goal, quite simply, is to find the types of spirits that consumers are going to buy. Award-winning spirits at the USA Spirits Ratings event come with an implicit promise that they are high-quality, commercially viable spirits that will perform well in the U.S. marketplace.
To ensure that Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winners achieve success in the U.S. market, the USA Spirits Ratings event provides a range of marketing and promotion support. This includes TTB label approval support to send samples to the competition. As part of the marketing and promotion of all spirits, USA Spirits Ratings provides USA Spirits Ratings stickers for bottles, certificates and labels, online and social media support, and hosting of offline events where USA Spirits Ratings will promote the winning brands.
“Looking ahead to 2019, we’re really very excited about the USA Spirits Ratings event. In just one year, we’ve already helped to change the conversation about how to judge and evaluate spirits,” says Patel of Beverage Trade Network. “At a time when consumers view spirits brands the same way they view other supermarket and retail brands, the USA Spirits Ratings event is really at the forefront of what’s happening in the global spirits industry.”
Domestic Registration : Closed
International Registration : Closed
Warehouse closed for samples: July 10, 2019
Judging: July 21, 2019
Winners announced: August 19, 2019
Beverage Trade Network (BTN) is a global media and B2B networking platform servicing suppliers, buyers and beverage professionals in the global beverage industry. BTN also owns BevRoute, a magazine for importers and distributors, and runs a lineup of trade shows around the world, including USA Trade Tasting in New York, IBWSS UK in London, IBWSS USA in San Francisco, ABID Conference in New York, the London Wine Competition, the London Beer Competition and the London Spirits Competition.