Whenever we’re looking to find a great spirit to try, be it gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, or any other spirit - we tend to gravitate towards online reviews from fellow drinkers. While those recommendations are great, at times, they don’t really hit the mark. But what if we told you that the next time you try a new spirit, it wouldn’t be a hit or miss, rather, it would be just a hit.
We are talking about a list of award-winning spirits tasted, judged, and recommended by some of the UK’s best bartenders, mixologists, and spirits buyers.
Each year, the London Spirits Competition rewards those spirits brands that deserve a space on the retailer’s shelf, behind the bar, and in our personal collection as well. For a consecutive five years, the London Spirits Competition has successfully shone the spotlight on a lot of brands that have since proven to be some of the best spirits in the market.
Judging such a big-scale competition requires sheer knowledge and experience in the industry. The judges at the London Spirits Competition are extremely knowledgeable and have extensive experience in the drinks industry. Some of the country’s best connoisseurs, spirits buyers, restaurant managers, bar directors, and mixologists are amongst the judging panel.
This year’s judging panel comprises some of the world’s best experts, including Julien Casanova (Director of Bars at Shangri-La Group), Diana Aladzic (Bartender at Soho House & Co), Giorgio Bargiani (Head Mixologist at The Connaught Bar, the world’s best bar), Salvatore Calabrese (Cocktail Maestro, Bar Owner, Consultant to the Bar Industry, Published Author, Collector of Rare and Vintage Spirits and Barware), and many other top-notch personalities from a various premium institution like Taj Hotels, JW Marriott, and more.
2022 London Spirits Competition Judges
Just like every year, 2021 saw some great spirits take the top awards at the competitions. Ramsbury Distillery’s Single Estate Vodka was crowned Spirit of the Year, Vodka of the Year, Best in Show by Country, and Best Spirit by Quality. Muyu Vetiver Gris by De Kuyper Distillers was crowned Liqueur of the Year, and the distillery was crowned Distillery of the Year. Meanwhile, the Dingle Distillery Fourth Single Pot Still Release was crowned Whiskey of the Year. These are the best of the best spirits out there.
The Judging Process
Winning an award at the London Spirits Competition is no mean feat. Any spirits brand will have to go above and beyond to get the gold, silver, and bronze medals.
With an aim to find great options for drinkers, the judging criteria is based completely on a consumer’s point of view. What would we like to drink at home? What would we order at the bar? Would we pick this spirit off a shelf? Points are allocated on the basis of a spirit’s quality (of course), its price (what value for money they offer), and its packaging and design (what it looks like).
The quality takes on five elements: appearance, aroma, body, taste, and aftertaste. Value is a measure of how the spirit’s price compares to its quality, and appearance assesses the packaging, taking in factors like label design and information, closure, and overall look. All the above factors are taken into account by the judges of the London Spirits Competition, after which they allocate points out of 100 on these judging criteria.
Top winners at the 2021 London Spirits Competition
A spirit must score 90 points or more out of a possible 100 to win a gold medal. This score is made up of the above three different factors, with the quality portion receiving double the weighting. Silver medalists receive between 76 and 89 points, while bronze medalists receive between 65 and 75 points. Although the Gold medalists are unquestionably the greatest in the competition, any spirit that receives an award is taste-worthy.
At the competition, a rigorous process ensures that only the best spirits at the event win the top awards. At the initial stage, spirits are blind-tasted by the judges to determine quality and drinkability. At the next stage, the judges are told the spirits’ price which allows them to make a decision on what value they offer for the money. And, at the last stage judges see the packaging, which allows them to assess in detail the design, label, and packaging and helps them determine how well it complements the spirit.
We all enjoy spirits just as much as we enjoy cocktails. The newest edition to the London Spirits Competition is all about cocktails. The London Spirits Competition will now welcome cocktail submissions for each of the items they enter in this prestigious competition.
For a variety of reasons, this feature is a game-changer. For starters, it will allow customers to assess the drink's adaptability by demonstrating how it may be used to enrich existing drinks or expose them to new ones. Second, when bartenders and mixologists stock up their bars with the winning spirits from the 2022 London Spirits Competition, it will provide inspiration and ready-to-use creations. This component will also serve as a comprehensive introduction to the spirit, and it may serve as a link between the judge's ratings and the preferences of the public.
The winning spirits' cocktails will be featured on the 2022 London Spirits Competition results website in April 2022. In addition to the London Spirits Competition Portal, the Beverage Trade Network's London Drinks Guide will pick cocktails from the winners' list and feature them on the London Drinks Guide and Bartenders Business portals. BTN's other worldwide consumer drinks guides, such as Los Angeles Drinks Guide, Chicago Drinks Guide, New York Drinks Guide, and San Francisco Drinks Guide, will feature the cocktails.
So this way you know that a spirit is good, and makes a killer cocktail too. So the next time you’re looking for a stellar spirit to try, the London Spirits Competition winners list is THE PLACE to look at. The best spirits of 2022 will be announced in April.
If you’re a spirits brand looking to grow your brand, then don’t forget to enter your spirits in the London Spirits Competition now.