No achievement of note has come without work or struggle, and the same can also be said of world-class distilled spirits. Year after year, the craft-spirits industry continues to grow both as a global community and in the number of products in the marketplace. ADI’s 2017 Judging of Craft Spirits has reflected both of these trends with 805 entries from around the world. Our 11th annual judging also marked the second year that ADI has opened up its competition to international entries (and more than 70 spirits from 28 international craft distilleries participated). Of these, Australian distilleries did very well, taking home three of the four international Best of Class trophies awarded.

ADI’s judging returned to Northern California, and all the spirits were judged in just two and a half days. This was made possible by the incredibly talented, dedicated and efficient group of stewards and judges. Our stewards arrived four days in advance of the judging to unpack, catalog, photograph, sort and flight 13 pallets of spirits. During the competition the stewards and judges worked in tandem like fine-tuned gears, which allowed eight panels of four judges each to taste and give specific feedback on approximately 50 spirits a day. And thanks to the generous supply of copita nosing glasses from Glencairn, the staff were able to keep pace with demand for more than 200 glasses an hour. Because of the intense focus of all involved, we were able to reserve the last day of three judging for reviews and our grand panel, which determined the best of class winners. In the end, ADI awarded 9 Double Gold, 47 Gold, 208 Silver and 298 Bronze Medals.

Once again, Heritage Distilling Company, of Gig Harbor, WA, earned the most medals with 47 total! Second place was tied at 12 medals for both Tattersall Distilling Company and Cutwater Spirits. Heathermeade Distilling, Henry Farms Prairie Spirits, Sagamore Spirit, StilL 630 Distillery and Old Young’s (from Australia) each received two Gold medals, of which no distillery earned more than two.

The Excellence in Packaging Awards expanded beyond simply Bronze, Silver and Gold. Two new categories were created to recognize the separate aesthetics incorporated in designing packages that can stand out on a retail shelf versus those on a backbar. In addition to individual packaging, judges awarded Brand Identity medals to three distilleries that have pleasing, strong cohesions across a line of spirits.

We congratulate all the winners from the 2017 Judging of Craft Spirits and we are honored to play our part in supporting, promoting and recognizing excellence within the industry and to the wider public.

Click here for a first-hand experience of first-time judge Jake Emen.

Click here for a list of 2017 award-winners.