What to Drink

The best spirits of 2021 recommended by bartenders

From American gin to Mexican rum, these are the best spirits of 2021, deserving a spot on your at-home bar shelf.

Whether it’s a simple vodka soda or going above and beyond to create a cocktail we probably saw online, at some point in the past year and a half, we’ve all indulged in the art of cocktail making in one way or another. Many of us are still learning more and more every day, following bartenders online, and mimicking their delicious drinks. Since we’re already whipping up many recipes by bartenders, why not stock up on the spirits they recommend? 


USA Spirits Ratings judging 

The 2021 USA Spirits Ratings results are now out, listing the best spirits that the world has to offer. This year, the competition saw spirits come in from over 49 countries, making it the most diverse lot of spirits for the competition so far. The majority of spirits came from the United States, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

The competition focuses on recognizing and awarding those spirits that would make a great addition to retail shelves and definitely our own shelves as well. 

Just like every year, the spirits were tasted by the top-notch judging panel and judged on the basis of their quality, value, and packaging. Here, quality refers to those spirits that are not only enjoyable and easy to drink but those that you won’t think twice before grabbing another bottle of - with every aspect of the spirit working seamlessly together. The value determines if the quality of the spirit is worth the money. Lastly, the competition focuses on the packaging of the spirits. While quality is the most important aspect of the spirit,  the packaging is our first interaction with a spirit and one that will make or break a buying decision. 

Apart from its non-traditional judging process, what really sets the USA Spirits Ratings apart from other competitions is the elite judging panel. The USA Spirits Ratings’ judging panel brings together some of the best retail chain buyers, bartenders, bar directors, bar managers, and other experts with decades of experience in the industry. These experts are well versed in our likes, dislikes, and the top trends in the industry.

This year, the top winning categories were whiskey, tequila, gin, vodka, and rum. The overall winning spirit was Caledonia Spirits’ Barr Hill Gin. The gin not only impressed judges at the USA Spirits Ratings, but has also been making a mark amongst bartenders across the country - who have been using the gin abundantly for many of their cocktails.  The gin earned 98 points and the titles of Spirit of the Year, Gin of the Year, Best in Show by Country, and Best Spirit by Quality. This is a double nod for this gin that astoundingly scored 100 points at the Bartender Spirits Awards 2021 and won the Gin of the Year award earlier this year. 


Barr Hill Gin, Spirit of the Year 

Judges at the competition were uber-impressed with Barr Hill Gin and its potential. In the words of the judges, “there are so many places Barr Hill gin can travel, and it lends itself beautifully to be sipped on its own or to be made into a cocktail”.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Teremana Tequila Reposado also topped the list, grabbing the Tequila of the Year award with 93 points. The brand, in its first year, is already on track to sell 300,000 cases and ship 400,000 cases. Not just another celebrity brand, this tequila is committed to quality. It’s safe to say that we’re adding this one to our next tequila cocktail. 


[From left to right] Uncle Nearest 1820 Single Barrel Whiskey, Hangar 1 Buddha's Hand Citron Vodka, Teremana Tequila Reposado

Uncle Nearest’s 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey, with its rich heritage and richer taste won the Whiskey of the Year, while Hangar 1 Buddha's Hand Citron grabbed the Vodka of the Year title. 

Top winners at the USA Spirits Ratings 

Spirit of the Year - Barr Hill Gin
Vodka of the Year - Hangar 1 Buddha's Hand Citron
Rum of the Year - Puerto Angel Anejo
Tequila of the Year - Teremana Tequila Reposado
Gin of the Year - Barr Hill Gin
Whiskey of the Year - Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel Whiskey
Absinthe of the Year - La Fée Parisienne Absinthe Supérieure
Cognac of the Year - Cognac Maxime Trijol XO Grande Champagne
Brandy of the Year - Brandy Sainte Louise
Liqueur of the Year - Muyu Vetiver Gris
Distillery of the Year - Caledonia Spirits 
Best Spirit by Quality - Barr Hill Gin
Best Spirit by Value - Emperor Heritage
Best Spirit by Package - The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Best Spirits by Country

United States - Barr Hill Gin
France - Brandy Sainte Louise
The United Kingdom - The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
Mexico - Puerto Angel Anejo
Netherlands - Muyu Vetiver Gris
Ireland - Bushmills Black Bush
Canada - Gin Pamplemousse Romarin/Gin Grapefruit Rosemary
Australia - Wolf Lane Distillery Tropical Gin

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