For the past 10 years, American Distilling Institute’s (ADI) Annual Judging of Craft Spirits competition has taken place around the country. The competition includes craft spirits makers both in the U.S. and from around the world. Spirits are tasted blind and evaluated by a panel of judges made up of distillers, journalists, bar owners, bartenders, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and importers.
Who Can Compete?
ADI accepts entries in all classes and categories of craft spirits from small, independently owned distillers, blenders, bitters makers, and producers of aperitif & fortified wines. All participants will receive written tasting notes and be considered for awards both for the spirits in the bottle as well as the packaging on the bottle.
The Judging Process
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Once all of the entries are received (deadlines are listed below), they are sorted by class (whiskey, gin, etc.) and category (bourbon, old Tom gin, etc.). Spirits are then organized into flights by stewards based on proof, maturation or flavoring. Once the stewards finish flighting the spirits, lead steward David T. Smith schedules the flights so that unaged or lighter spirits go out first, preceding aged or strongly flavored spirits. This schedule is split into a morning session and an afternoon session, giving some stronger spirits to the judges before lunch, after which a meal and an hour break allows their palates to rest and reset for the afternoon session. Special menus are arranged for breakfast and lunch that forgo strong flavors (such as garlic or peppers), which might linger and obscure a judge’s full sense of smell and taste. All of this is done to help the judges fully taste and evaluate each spirit.
Deadlines for the 2017 Competition
- January 13, 2017 for international spirit entries
- January 27, 2017 for U.S. spirit entries
- All spirits must be received by February 2, 2017
You can learn more about the competition and how to enter by visiting the American Distilling Institute website here.
Awards for the competition will be announced at the ADI Conference and Vendor Expo April 3-6, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland.