Submission Guidelines

How to Enter   –   Protocols   –   Judges   –   Sponsors   –   FAQ   –   Award Winners

 The purpose of this judging is to help promote the craft spirits industry and the people who are  producing the finest quality artisan spirits, bitters, aperitif and fortified wines and to give participants valuable, unbiased, third-party feedback on the quality and process of their spirits.

Who Can Enter?

ADI accepts entries in all classes and categories of craft spirits from US and International distillers, blenders, bitters makers, and producers of aperitif & fortified wines who are:

  • Independently Owned: Less than 25% of the producer is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by alcoholic beverage industry members who are not themselves a craft distiller, blender, bitters maker, or producer of aperitif & fortified wines.
  • Small-Scale: Producer has maximum annual sales of 100,000 proof gallons (about 473,000 liters/52,500 9-liter cases).

What do I get for entering?

Double-gold, gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded with certificates for spirits judged worthy of recognition. All entrants will receive tasting notes with comments from the spirits judges. All entrants will also be considered for our Packaging Awards and be evaluated to see if they if they meet the standards for ADI’s Certification of Craft Spirits at no additional cost or paperwork. Award winners will receive a physical awards as well as a digital renderings of all applicable medals, awards and certifications. Judges reserve the right to not award medals when, in their opinion, no spirits in that category merit an award.

Medals and Packaging Awards will be announced at the American Distilling Institute’s Annual Conference & Vendor Expo, April 3-6, 2016 in Baltimore, MD.

New for 2017

Entrants can choose to submit one or more spirits for testing and receive a certificate of chemical analysis which is valid for all major retailers, most countries import/export and tender purposes. A $700 value offered to judging entrants for $150 per spirit. For more details check out our submission guidelines. Download and example certificate here to get an idea of what information is included.


Deadline for International Spirits Registration: January 13, 2017
Deadline for US Spirits Registration: January 27, 2017
Deadline for Receiving Entries: February 2, 2017

Discount for Affiliate Associations

Members of the following Affiliate Associations:
The Gin Guild
Ontario Distillers Association
Australian Distillers Association

may enter their spirits at the ADI Member price even if they are not current members of ADI.

Entry Fees:

ADI Members
$250 per spirit for US entries
$300 per spirit for international entries
Bulk discount for members who enter more than 10 spirits

$350 per spirit for US entries
$400 per spirit for international entries

Spirits Classes & Categories

Spirits should be entered in the class and category in which the registrant intends it to be judges. While ADI reserves to right to reclassify a spirit it will only do so if there is a compelling reason. Spirits incorrectly classified during registration may receive lower marks. The prospective categories for entry are:

White Whiskey
Blended Whiskey
Corn Whiskey
Malt Whiskey
Rye Whiskey
Wheat Whiskey
Flavored Whiskey
Hopped Whiskey
Non-typical Whiskey (mixed/other grains)
Smoked Whiskey
Irish Blended Whiskey^
Irish Grain Whiskey^
Irish Single Malt Whiskey^
Irish Single Pot-Still Whiskey^
Blended Scotch^
Scotch Grain Whisky^
Single Malt Scotch^

Aged Moonshine
Flavored Moonshine

Unaged Rum
Aged Rum
Flavored Rum
Navy-Style Rum
Overproof Rum
Spiced Rum

Citrus Liqueur
Coffee Liqueur
Cream Liqueur
Fruit Liqueur
Herbal/Botanical/Spiced Liqueur
Nut Liqueur
Other Liqueur

Flavored vodka
Vodka (unflavored)

Aged Gin
Classic Gin
Contemporary Gin (including New Western and American Dry)
Compound Gin
Cordial Gin
Navy-Strength Gin
Old Tom Gin

Apple Brandy
Pear Eau de Vie
Eau de Vie Other Fruit
Aged Fruit Brandy (Other than grape or apple)
Grappa/Pomace/Marc Brandy
Unaged Grape Brandy
Aged Grape Brandy

Aged Agave Spirits
Unaged Agave Spirit
Aged Mezcal^
Unaged Mezcal^
Aged Tequila^
Unaged Tequila^

Bier Schnapps
Aperitif Wine
Fortified Wine
Ready-to-Drink Cocktails
Non-potable Bitters

Moonshine will loosely be defined as spirits marketed as moonshine. ADI will accept spirits distilled from sugar or grain (or hybrids of either) that the TTB has designated as Distilled Spirits Specialty. Also, any clear whiskey or whiskey, on which the words moon or shine, or which contains clear references toward moonshine on the label, will be allowed in this category provided it is designated at the time of registration.If and international distillery so chooses, they may submit a grain spirit to be judged as a whiskey, as defined in the US Standards of Identity, even if the spirit cannot be labeled whiskey in its country of origin. However, ADI will not judge international grain spirits as a bourbon or Tennessee whisky.^Must comply with US, EU or other relevant international regulation.

Information needed for Registration

This is a list of information that might be helpful to collect before beginning the online registration. This is not an exhaustive list but covers some of the basic. If you are not sure where to find some of this information, check our online FAQ. Please be aware that you cannot save and return to an incomplete registration. You must complete the registration and pay for at least one spirit before you can return and add more spirits. Download a copy of this list here: Registration Check List

  • DSP#: DSP followed by State abbreviation and a number i.e. DSP-ST-12345. For bitters and vermouth producers who do not have a DSP or for International distillers, you will enter 0000.
  • Spirit Brand Name: What is the name of your spirit as you would like it to appear in print. This is not the legal fanciful name. ex. Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey.
  • 14-digit TTB ID#: This is a unique number for each approved COLA. It can be found through the TTBs Public COLA Registry or in Box 1 of your printed COLA. If you do not have a COLA you will enter 0000.
  • 3-digit TTB Class/Type#: These three digit numbers correspond to the class and type of spirit. It can be found through the TTBs Public COLA Registry or in Box 1 of your printed COLA. If you do not have a COLA you will enter 0000.
  • Production Statement: You will need the production statement as it is listed on you TTB approved label (e.g. distilled, produced, bottled etc.) If you do not have a COLA pick the statement the best applies.
  • Spirit ABV: What is the percentage of alcohol per unit of volume? Please do not list proof.



Please review the terms & conditions as some have changed from 2016.

For All Spirits Entered:

  • Samples must be received at HPS Epicurean by Thursday, February 2nd 2017
  • Payment by check must be received by ADI prior to commencement of judging, February 13, 2017.
  • All spirits must have received a COLA or a COLA waiver by February 13, 2017 or they will disqualified from receiving any awards and will be ineligible for a refund.
  • If your membership is expired and you answered “Yes” to “Are you a current ADI Member in good standing?” a $500 full member renewal fee will be charged to the card on file to bring your membership up to date.
  • You agree to follow all of the applicable shipping instructions.
  • Products not properly packed or arriving with broken content will be charged a $25 repacking fee per case.
  • Boxes without all required information (registration, COLA waivers etc.) in an external shipping pouch will need to be opened and charged a $20 repacking fee per case.
  • All samples submitted for judging will be considered property of ADI. ADI Reserves the right to photograph and publish photographs of all entries.

Additional Terms & Conditions for International Spirits:

  • International spirits without a COLA must download and email the completed COLA waiver form to Anne Chantegros of HPS Epicurean at
  • COLA waivers must be received before the spirits are shipped.
  • Depending on the Distiller’s choice of forwarding agent they will need to complete a prior notice form. Here are links for DHL and UPS. Once the Distillery is registered they can also fill out the form online through the FDA Prior Notice Interface System.
  • Entrants must fill out the paperwork on the FDA Web Site for prior notice and to have their plant registered. The carrier may fill this out, but it is the Entrant’s responsibility to ensure this is complete. Instruction for Prior Notice for Food Articles sent by International mail.
  • International entrants are responsible for all shipping and custom fees.


For All Spirits Entered:

Address box to:
HPS Epicurean
Attn: ADI Judging
432 Maple Street, Ste #4
Ramona, CA 92065

  • Samples must be received at HPS Epicurean by Thursday, February 2nd 2017

  • Send two (2) 750ml bottles (or the equivalent) for all spirits entered.

  • Send between 140-200ml for each Non-potable bitters and tinctures entered.

  • Do not send entries by the US Postal Service! We recommend FedEx, UPS, or DHL for shipping spirits.


    • All bottles must be packaged in such a way that they will absolutely not break.

    • All boxes must be identified on the outside of the box with the Name of the Distillery.

    • All boxes must be marked on the outside “SAMPLES FOR LAB USE ONLY – NOT FOR SALE”

    • All boxes must have an exterior shipping pouch that includes a printed copy of your registration as a packing slip. If shipping multiple boxes, each shipping pouch needs to indicate on the registration page/packing slip which spirits are in each box.

    • If shipping multiple boxes, mark the outside of each box with the number of the box out of the total number shipped (1 of 3, 4 of 6 etc.)


Additional Shipping Instructions for International Spirits:

  • International spirits must have their COLA waiver processed before the spirits are shipped.

  • The exterior shipping pouch must include the registration/packing slip, FDA prior Notice and COLA waiver.

  • International entrants are responsible for all shipping and custom fees.


For the first time, ADI is partnering with Spirit of Hven Backafallsbyn, a professional lab based in Sweden, to offer all registrants of ADI’s 2017 Judging of Craft Spirits the opportunity to submit one or more of their spirits for testing and receive a Certificate of Chemical Analysis (download and example here). These certificates are valid for all major retailers, most countries import/export and tender purposes.

Each certificate usually cost $700 but we are offering them to Judging registrants for $150 per spirit, a $550 savings! Because the lab is in Sweden, please be aware that international shipping rates are more expensive than domestic rates. The analysis fee does not include any shipping or customs fees. All associated fees in submitting samples for testing are the responsibility of the sender.

Shipping Requirements:

  • Package a bottle of each spirit you are submitting for chemical analysis in such a way that they will absolutely not break.

  • Each spirit sample must be at least 200ml, ideally 700/750ml.

  • Shipment must be marked on the outside with:

    • Name of the distillery


    • In an exterior shipping pouch, include a packing slip that lists the contents of the box.

Shipping Address:

Street Address:           NORREBORGSVAGEN 55
Postal Code & City:     26013 SANKT IBB
Country:                       SWEDEN

Shipments originating from the US can use common carriers such as UPS, FedEx, DHL etc. Distillers cannot legally ship alcohol via the Unites States Postal Service.