Bringing Home the Hardware!
We just completed a whirlwind tour, including the American Distilling Institute’s Craft Spirit Expo in Baltimore, where our unique Bourbons competed against over 800 spirit entries in hopes of winning some coveted medals. We realize that many of you might not know what these competitions are about. We would love to share with you what we know.
Why do we go to Whiskey Competitions?
While the competition part of it is fun, the real reason most distillers enter competitions is to get unbiased third-party feedback regarding both the quality and process of creating our spirits. Most of the competitions have a goal of promoting excellence in various categories. As an example, whiskeys are typically judged against each other, in their own category and, depending on the event, their price point is also taken into account.
How is the Competition Kept Unbiased?
The secret to an unbiased competition is the blind tasting, and an important aspect of the blind tasting is to use experienced judges. These judges are provided no information on what they are drinking and they judge solely based upon what’s in the glass. In many events, the whiskey they are tasting is only in competition with itself, it isn’t an A versus B – at least not yet.
Judges are usually provided all the tools they need: scoresheets, pencils, water, something with which to cleanse their palate between tastings, etc. Also, whiskeys are typically served in flights with the lowest to highest proof. That way, one whiskey in the flight doesn’t overpower the next.
What are the Medals all About?
Medals indicate exceptional quality and craftsmanship. It is important to note that not all entries in these competitions earn medals. Nobody gets participation awards! Because whiskeys are not yet competing against each other, it is not unusual for an entire flight of whiskeys in one sitting to have no medal winners, and, conversely, it is also not uncommon for an entire flight to win medals.
Each whiskey is given the same chance to score between 0 and 100 points. The points then provide the following results:
• No medal is awarded to a whiskey that scores below 70 points.
• Bronze medals are awarded to whiskeys scoring 70 to 79 points. A Bronze medal suggests a well-crafted spirit that is commercially sound, modestly attractive and free of significant flaws and is the better example of a whiskey in its category.
• Silver medals are awarded to whiskeys scoring 80 to 89 points. A Silver medal suggests an outstanding spirit that shows refinement, finesse, and complexity. It is among the best examples in its category.
• Gold medals are awarded to whiskeys scoring 90 to 100 points. It is an exceptional spirit that is near its pinnacle of achievement and sets the standard for the entire category.
Some competitions also award Double Gold medals. Double Golds only get awarded when all the judges agree that a whiskey has earned Gold. There are very few Double Gold medal winners in a competition and not all competitions award them.
You may wonder if there’s anything more exciting than Double Gold, and the answer is a definite “Yes!”
At the ADI last week all Gold medal winners move to a premium round where they finally compete against each other. While different shows have their own unique number of premium awards, the typical event has at least two:
• Best in Class demonstrates it is the very best Double Gold or Gold winner in a single category.
• Best in Show is the highest honor of the competition. All of the Best in Class winners are lined up against each other, and only one is chosen.
So, did J. Henry & Sons Win any Awards at the American Distilling Institute?
We sure did! Patton Road Reserve won Gold, and Bellefontaine Reserve won Gold as well. If that wasn’t praise enough, Patton Road Reserve also won Best of Category, which is a top award for the show!
Has J. Henry & Sons Won any Other Awards?
Our recently released Bellefontaine Reserve won 94 points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, Excellent, Highly Recommended from its first competition. This was a huge honor!
2017 is just ramping up, but in 2016, we competed at several and won the following:
San Francisco World Spirits Competition
• J. Henry & Sons Small Batch Bourbon won Bronze
• Patton Road Reserve won Double Gold
New York World Wine & Spirits Competition
• J. Henry & Sons Small Batch Bourbon won Silver
• Patton Road Reserve won Double Gold
• Patton Road Reserve won Best Small Batch Bourbon
- Patton Road Reserve won Best Bourbon
Beverage Tasting Institute
• Bellefontaine Reserve earned 93 points and was awarded Gold, Exceptional
• Patton Road Reserve earned 89 points Silver
• J. Henry & Sons Small Batch rated 89 points and Silver too!
In the End, What’s it all Mean?
Winning awards shows you, the consumer, how to be a more discerning shopper and how we stack up against industry standards, what the tasting professionals think of our products. In the great wide world of whiskey, you can differentiate medal winners from those who may not have won anything. But in the end, what matters most is what you prefer, what your tastes find pleasing and how you choose to #RewardYourself by #DrinkingBetterNotMore.
We are so grateful for each of you and your continued support. Cheers!