When it comes to choosing a spirit, we are spoiled for choice. With the abundance of spirits brands in front of us, the question that often arises is ‘how do I know which one is the best?’ Most of the time, we tap away on our screens and look for reviews from others. But how do we know if those reviews are trustworthy? What if we told you that the next time you pick your spirits, you can do it with a recommendation from some of the best bartenders and spirits experts in the country.
Hosted and organized by Beverage Trade Network, the USA Spirits Ratings brings to life an array of spirits from across oceans that await your attention.
They judge based on what we drink
The USA Spirits Ratings aims to appreciate those spirits that we, the drinkers enjoy, and sets a benchmark for buyers all around the country. Spirits are entered from all over the world, creating a wider market for you to choose from.
The judging process sets itself apart from others, judging spirits on the basis of three main parameters; Quality, Value, and Packaging. Like all other competitions, the focal point is quality, but the USA Spirits Ratings also takes into consideration how we pick what spirits we want to drink, therefore introducing the value and packaging factor.
Here, the quality accounts for those spirits that are well balanced, where their acidity, tannins, and alcohol levels all work seamlessly together. The judges make sure that these spirits are both enjoyable and easy to drink. The value part of the judging process highlights the price point of the bottle, highlighting those spirits that are priced according to their quality. Not all expensive spirits are great, and not all affordable spirits are bad.
Lastly, the USA Spirits Ratings focuses on the packaging of the bottle. This is arguably the most important part for a spirits brand - as we, the drinkers, first meet with the bottle before the spirits inside it.
The USA Spirits Ratings rewards those brands that show that they understand their customers, and the price category they are operating in, and have produced a design and package with the right personality to attract and keep their attention.
Medals are awarded to spirits that excel in all three categories, handing them the staple Gold, Silver, or Bronze. The USA Spirits Ratings also awards special category awards like ‘Gin of the Year’, ‘Spirits of the Year’, ‘Vodka of the Year’, and ‘Whiskey of the Year’ to name but a few.
Each year, the competition sees entries from all over the world, from well-known spirits regions like Germany, Australia, the UK, USA, to lesser-known spirits producing regions like Jamaica and South Africa.
Barr Hill Gin by Caledonia Spirits triumphed across the 2020 USA Spirits Ratings, earning a very rare 100 points to its name. The gin was also awarded the titles of ‘Spirit of the Year’, ‘Gin of the Year’, ‘Best in Show by Country’, and ‘Best Spirit by Quality’.
Spirits from countries like Jamaica were also thrown under the spotlight, with the Rhumb Runner Monymusk by 359 Spirits taking home the title of ‘Rum of the Year’. Other winners included Mexico’s Suave Reposado (Tequila of the Year), Ireland’s Bushmills Black Bush (Whiskey of the Year), UK’s Highclere Castle Gin (Best in Show by Country) to name but a few.
The USA Spirits Ratings also focuses on other spirits like Absinthe, ready-to-drink, liqueurs, vermouth, and more. Amidst many, the La Reve Molecular Absinthe grabbed 93 points, while Rockwell’s Extra Dry Vermouth took home a whopping 95.
Why trust the USA Spirits Ratings?
Even with a rigorous judging process, some might wonder, why should we trust the USA Spirits Ratings? The answer is simple - the judging panel. While the judging process is a strong one, the judges that back it are even stronger.
The USA Spirits Ratings judging panel brings together spirits buyers, mixologists, and industry experts who are directly involved in the buying and selling of spirits. These experts have been in the business for a long time, and know exactly how well a spirit will do on the shelves of a retail store or on a bar’s drinks menu.
The 2021 judging panel includes names like Mark Berge -Liquor Buyer at Superior Grocers, Los Angeles, California; Jeff Feist - Category Lead at Spirits & More at BevMo; Shirley Brooks - Bartender at Madrone Art Bar; David Rowe - Lead Bartender at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and many more.
This year, the judging will take place on July 25, where all judges will come together under one roof, safety protocols in place, and taste, judge, and award the best spirits of 2021.