Kicking off this year’s Tales of the Cocktail is the announcement of the winners for the 2023 New Orleans Spirits Competition’s Spirits of the Year. This is the second year of the competition, which aims to spotlight world-class distillers and their spirits to the global beverage community.
Back in June, for two days a judging panel of some of the industry’s most esteemed bartenders, distillers, and writers, including Imbibe editor Paul Clarke and Imbibe 75er Tiffanie Barriere, blind-tasted nearly 500 entries. They decided on medals for categories, such as “Specialty Spirit of the Year” and “No/Low Elixir of the Year.” But on Monday, July 24, at Tales of the Cocktail, the tasting panels determined the winners for Spirits of the Year. Given the high quality of the entrants, nearly one in 10 spirits won a gold or double gold medal.
“The gap in quality is clearly narrowing, and the longtime producers are releasing more and more interesting limited expressions to be in the conversation. It’s a treat to be able to taste this evolution.” —Wayne Curtis
“I was impressed by the quality of spirits this year overall,” says head judge (and Imbibe columnist) Wayne Curtis. “Our competition is open to legacy producers who’ve been making spirits for more than a century, as well as craft producers around for less than a decade. But the gap in quality is clearly narrowing, and the longtime producers are releasing more and more interesting limited expressions to be in the conversation. It’s a treat to be able to taste this evolution.”
“The rise of certain categories of spirit is fun to watch,” adds managing partner Andrew Faulkner. “Rye whiskey, Irish whiskey, and American single malt have risen from a handful of brands a few years ago to take many of the top whisky awards. Mezcal, which was an exotic spirit only a decade ago, eclipsed tequila in number of awards.”
The “best of class” winners will be highlighted in Imbibe‘s September/October issue.
Spirits of the Year
Whisky of the Year
Balcones Distilling Texas 1 Single Malt
Agave Spirit of the Year
Samson & Surrey Mezcal Vago Ensamble en Barro
Gin of the Year
Highclere Castle Spirits Highclere Castle Gin
Rum of the Year
Rolling Fork Spirits The Lost Cask Collection Barbados 17 Year
Vodka of the Year
Safe House Distilling Co. Teller Genuine Vodka
Brandy of the Year
Maison Ferrand Ferrand S.D.A Sélection des Anges
Liqueur of the Year
Allegheny Distilling LLC Maggie’s Farm Falernum
Specialty Spirit of the Year
Sanwa Shurui iichiko Shochu Saiten
Ready to Drink Cocktail of the Year
Heaven Hill Brands Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka + Soda
No/Low Elixir of the Year
Bark & Bitter Novara Aperitivo
For a complete list of the 2023 New Orleans Spirits Competition winners, click here.