After a year of planning, four days of bottle sorting and three marathon days of tasting spirits, the mood coming out of the 2016 Judging of Craft Spirits was that this was our best judging ever… until next year.

A total of 645 spirits were entered, more than ever before. The sorting and cataloguing of bottles went with barely a hitch. Years of working with a solid corps of judges paid off as all the panels got down to business quickly. New glassware provided by Glenncairn performed beyond expectations, helping the judges to easily and accurately discern aromas and flavors.  The backroom staff functioned like a well-oiled machine. And the venue provided a welcome island away from the rest of the world, with comfortable environs, clean air, ample space and good light. But most importantly, the variety and level of spirits was nonpareil.

Distillers earned 13 double-gold, 48 gold, 111 silver and 110 bronze medals. The most-awarded distillery was Heritage Distilling Company, of Gig Harbor, WA, who brought in 20 awards, including two best of class, six best of category and seven gold medals.

For the first time, ADI opened the judging to international entries from any continent. Spirits came in from countries as varied as Finland and South Africa. One Italian entry, Turin Vermouth, tied with Minnesota’s Tattersall Distilling for second most awards, with eight.

At the awards gala in San Diego, the hometown distillery, Ballast Point Brewing and Distilling garnered six awards and another hometown distillery, Malahat Spirits, walked away with the best of class rum. Two James Spirits, Tamworth Distilling, Still 630 and New Holland Spirits all earned five awards.

Only 43.7% of the spirits received medals, one of the lowest percentages of any spirits judging. ADI is proud that our judges are discerning and any medals awarded designate exceptional spirits to be proud of. What follows is a list of 282 exceptional spirits to be proud of… and enjoyed.

Click here for a list of award-winners.

Click here for Bios of the Summer 2016 Judges.