The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), the nation’s only national registered nonprofit trade association representing the U.S. craft spirits industry, announced the medalists and Best in Show honoree of its 9th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits, who were honored during an in-person awards dinner and banquet during its Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show. Medalists were hand-selected among a pool just shy of 450 entrants.
During the event, ACSA proudly bestowed the evening’s ultimate honor, the Best in Show award, to Starlight Winery & Distillery of Borden, Indiana, for its Carl T. Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey. Jeff Wuslich (Cardinal Spirits), an ACSA Judging Committee Co-Chair, gave a warm welcome with an optimistic toast to the future of the industry.
This year, entries were submitted from 37 states and Washington, D.C., in seven main categories: brandy, distilled specialty spirits, gin, ready to drink (RTD), rum, vodka and grain spirits, and whiskey. In addition to Best in Show, Best of Class, and Innovation distinctions, the judging panel awarded 15 gold, 104 silver, and 159 bronze medals.
The 2022 Best of Class distinctions, the highest honor in each of the seven judging categories, were awarded to a mix of both established, award-winning distilleries and younger newcomers. Winning distilleries also receive hand-carved barrel heads courtesy of Thousand Oaks Barrel Co.
Best of Class Winners in Each Category Included:
Brandy: Wigle Peach Brandy, Wigle Whiskey (PA)
Distilled Specialty Spirits: Wigle Amaro Vermut, Wigle Whiskey (PA)
Gin: Jaggerbush, Lawrenceville Distilling Co. (PA)
RTD: Astoria Mary, Pilot House Distilling (OR)
Rum: White Rum, Three Roll Estate (LA)
Vodka and Grain Spirits: Sweet Blend Vodka, Delta Dirt Distillery (AR)
Whiskey: Carl T. Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey, Starlight Distillery (IN)
Innovation: Sorel, JackfromBrooklyn (NY)
The complete list of winners is available on the ACSA website.
ACSA would like to thank its judging competition sponsor, Glencairn.
CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, ACSA’s bi-monthly digital publication, will showcase the top medalists in an upcoming issue.
About the Judging
The 9th Annual American Craft Spirits Competition was judged on April 5-6 at High Wire Distilling Co. in Charleston, South Carolina. Colton Weinstein and Jeff Wuslich served as Judging Co-Chairs.
Spirits were judged by a panel of 30 judges, including Alexander Kong, Amy Zavatto, Caley Shoemaker, Chris Schmid, Dwayne Bershaw, Eboni Major, Gary Spedding, Jackie Summers, Jake Tennenbaum, Jason Zeno, Jeanetta McCarthy, Joel Soucy, Johnny Caldwell, Jose Chao, Kristen Wemer, Lisa Laird Dunn, Liz Rhoades, Margarett Waterbury, Miguel Buencamino, Monica Wolf, Monique Houston, Nicole E. Shriner, Phillip Morgan, Neal Bodenheimer, Roderick Groetzinger, Serge P Lozach, Stinson Carter, Taneka Reaves, Tiffanie Barriere, and Will Hoekenga.
ACSA works rigorously to develop and fine-tune its methodology in order to ensure it continues to be one of the most valuable judging competitions in the industry. ACSA works to create a scoring card that generates meaningful, detailed feedback for entrants. Spirits were scored on appearance, aroma intensity, aroma complexity, palate concentration, palate complexity, body, character and nature of alcohol, texture, and finish. Finally, each judge was asked if they would pour the spirit for a peer. Prior to the tasting panels, judges participated in a palate calibration seminar led by Weinstein and Wuslich, to bring a more narrowed focus to the tasting approach. This calibration seminar helped to ensure that scores across all judges and panels fell close to one another.
Scoring and Medal Criteria
The scoring of spirits was based on a 100-point system, with spirits judged on the overall, cohesive impression of the spirit. Spirits were then assigned a medal based on the average score determined by the following benchmarks: 70-79 = Bronze; 80-89 = Silver; 90-100 = Gold.
Best of Class / Best in Show
The top awarded spirits were selected based upon their numerical score with the highest scores earning Best of Class / Best in Show distinction.