American Craft Spirits Association - 2018 Craft Spirits Judging Award Winners

The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) announced the winners of its Fifth Annual Judging of Craft Spirits, who were honored during the awards dinner at the ACSA Craft Distillers Convention and Vendor Trade Show. This year’s show was attended by close to 1,000 spirits producers and suppliers in the City of 446 Bridges, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Winners were hand-selected among more than 500 entrants from 38 states and the District of Columbia in six main categories. Maggie Campbell of Privateer Rum emceed this year’s event, having served as the Judging Chair. The 2018 Best in Class distinctions, the highest honor in each of the six judging categories, were awarded by ACSA Board of Directors to a mix of both established, award-winning distilleries and younger newcomers. The six categories include whiskey, gin, rum, vodka and grain spirits, brandy and specialty spirits.

How are the Spirits Judged

ACSA conducts its professional judging program in accordance with a series of detailed protocols. 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.

Prior to the tasting panels, judges participated in a palate calibration seminar led by Campbell, 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.

ACSA uses a scoring card that generates meaningful, detailed feedback for entrants. Spirits are scored on appearance, aroma intensity, aroma complexity, palate concentration, palate complexity, body, character and nature of alcohol, texture, and finish. Finally, each judge is asked if they would pour the spirit for a peer.

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.

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To view the entire list of entries including Bronze, Silver, Gold, Best in Class and Best in Show winners please go to our related story, “The Complete List: American Craft Spirits Association 2018 Award Winners

Best in Class and Best in Show

The top awarded spirits were then judged a final time in consideration of a Best in Class / Best in Show distinction. The judging chairs collected votes from each panel member for their favorite spirits. If the results were conclusive on the first vote, the results were then recorded. If the results were inconclusive, the judges used a ranked scoring, allowing three points for first place, two points for second place and one point for third place. The spirit that received the highest score in each category was then named Best in Class.


And the 2018 American Craft Spirits Association Best in Show is…


Arizona Craft Beverage’s Elgin Distillery, Regalo de Vida Rum, Arizona


2018 Best in Class Winner in Each Category is…


Best in Class Whiskey 

Still 630 – 5 Year RallyPoint, Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey, Missouri
Still 630 - Indomitable Spirits, 5 Year Old Rally Point Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

Best in Class Gin

Pittsburgh Distilling Company, Wigle Organic Ginever, Pittsburgh

Best in Class Rum

Arizona Craft Beverage’s Elgin Distillery, Regalo de Vida Rum, Arizona

Best in Class Vodka & Grain Spirits

Fainting Goat Spirits, Tiny Cat Vodka, North Carolina

Best in Class Brandy

Huber’s Starlight Distillery, Starlight Distillery Reserve Brandy, Indiana

Best in Class Specialty Spirits

Distilled Specialty Spirits: Tattersall Distilling, Tattersall Bitter Orange Liqueur, Minnesota
Tattersall Distillery - Bitter Orange Liqueur

From all the entries, the judging panel awarded 16 Gold, 84 Silver, and 209 Bronze medals plus the Best of Class and the coveted Best of Show.

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And the Winner is… American Craft Spirits Association Announces 2017 Award Winners
The Complete List: American Craft Spirits Association 2017 Award Winners

The 2018 Judges

The judges represented a diverse range of spirits experts within the industry, including retailers, bar industry leaders, wholesalers, educators, and journalists. The judging took place November 7 and 8, 2017, at District Distilling in Washington, DC.  Maggie Campbell, Privateer Rum (MA), served as Spirits Judging Chair. Spirits were judged by a panel of 41 judges, including Amy Zavatto, Anna Archibald, Antony Moss, Caley Shoemaker, Cappie Peete, Catherine Rabb, Chris Chamberlain, Christian Butzke, Christopher Carlsson, Clay Risen , Clyde Davis Jr., Dan Farber, Dave Scheurich, Duane Sylvestre, Dwayne Bershaw, Gary Spedding, Heather Greene, J.P. Fetherston, Jackie Summers, Jake Emen, Johnny Caldwell, Kendra Scott, Lauren Friel, Lew Bryson, Lisa Wicker, Luc Theirs, Martin Cate, Matt Pietrek, Matt Strickland, Misha Kwasniewski, Nicholas King, Paul Clarke, Paul Hughes, Reid Mitenbuler, Riannon Walsh, Richard Wolf, Ryan Lotz, Steve Bashore, Steve Beal, Taneka Reaves, and Wayne Curtis.

Congratulations to all the 2018 award winners!

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