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2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition Announces Top Honors

Submitted by Tim Brice on April 6, 2011 – 12:51 pmNo Comment

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition just released the results of their 2011 judging.  Held over the weekend of March 19, 19 and 20, 2011 at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, over 1,100 spirits were sniffed, sipped, spat and discussed.


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San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Anthony Dias Blue, one of the  world’s most renown wine, spirits and lifestyle personalities and the events Executive Director and co-Founder was impressed at the growth in the event and the quality of the spirits submitted.


“This is the largest pure spirits competition in the world.  Over 1,100 bottles sent in to be judged.  In 2000, our first year, we only had 10 gins submitted for judging.  This year we have 52.  The overall character of the spirits presented is just superior, truly the best in the world.”

When asked what stood out to him as most notable his gaze turned to Kentucky.

“Bourbon is the hottest thing going right now.  The variety, class and character of what we are seeing is just impressive.  Gin is a close second, however, as more and more boutique gins are propping up every year and with impressive quality.” He added, “Rye is still going strong as is Tequila, but Mezcal is signaling an attempt to really make a lasting statement.  There are good signs there.”

Pointing to Mr. Blue’s comment on Gin is the surprise finish of Sloane’s Dry Gin from the Netherlands as Best in Show for Unaged White Spirits as well as Best Gin.  In fact, eight of the top placing ten gins call locales other than the U.K. home.  Venerable Beefeater was the highest placing English gin coming in seventh place.


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A flight of gin at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition

In spite of the current bourbon movement, the top honor for Best in Show Whiskey went to a Rye; Thomas H. Hand Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey.  The honor of Best Bourbon went to George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey with Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Kentucky 15 year old Straight Bourbon Whiskey coming in second.


The highly talented judging panel was made up of thirty-two experts in the fields of spirits and mixology and included the likes of noted tequila expert Julio Bermejo, master of whisky Stephen Beal, publisher Meredith May, and mixologists Joseph Brooke of the Edison Los Angeles, Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common Portland, Misty Kalkofen of Drink Boston, and Jim Romdall of Vessel Seattle among others.  Aside from the opportunity to sample some of the very best in the world of spirits each year, Dias-Blue says the people are largely the reason he comes back year after year.

“Of all the things I do, the writing, the radio, all of it, this is the most fun thing I do.  The camaraderie and the level of talent in this room is crazy.”


Best of show honors were awarded in the following five categories:

  • BEST IN SHOW WHISKEY, Best Rye , Double Gold Medal, Thomas H. Handy Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, USA [63.45%] $70. www.sazerac.com
  • BEST IN SHOW UNAGED WHITE SPIRIT, Best Gin, Double Gold Medal, Sloane’s Dry Gin, Netherlands [40%] $40. Importer: Ice Cap Spirits-Manhasset, NY www.toorank.com
  • BEST IN SHOW LIQUEUR / OTHER SPIRIT , Best Other Spirit, Double Gold Medal, Mozart Dry Chocolate Spirit, Austria [40%] $42. www.mozart-distillerie.com
  • BEST IN SHOW BRANDY, Best Cognac , Double Gold Medal, Landy Cognac XO, Cognac, France [40%] $109. Importer: W.J. Deutsch & Sons – White Plains, NY www.cognacferrand.com
  • BEST IN SHOW AGED WHITE SPIRIT, Best Mescal, Double Gold Medal, Sinai Reposado Mezcal, Oaxaca, Mexico [40%] $39. Importer: Nolasco Spirits-Santa Rosa, CA www.benesin.net (in process)
  • [40%] $40. Importer: Ice Cap Spirits-Manhasset, NY www.toorank.com

A complete list of results by Medal can be found here.

A complete list of results by Class can be found here.



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The bottle room the judges never saw at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Judges for the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition:


Anthony Dias Blue - President, Blue Lifestyle; Editor-in-Chief, The Tasting Panel Magazine, Los Angeles,
Executive Director San Francisco World Spirits Competition and San Francisco International Wine Competition

Tony Abou-Ganim - Master Mixologist, The Modern Mixologist, Las Vegas,
Director of Judging San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Bridget Albert - Mixologist, Southern Wine & Spirits, Chicago
Stephen Beal - Master of Whisky, Consultant & Educator, San Francisco
Kent Bearden - Master Mixologist, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Julio Bermejo - Tequila Master / Spirits Buyer, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, San Francisco
Mark Bowery - Wine & Spirits Consultant, Mark Bowery Consulting, Mendocino
Joseph Brooke - Mixologist, Director of Spirits,The Edison, Los Angeles
Derek Brown - Co-owner / Mixologist, The Passenger and Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.
Jerry Cooper - Proprietor, Swirl on Castro, San Francisco
Aidan Demarest - Beverage Manager, Spare Room, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles
H. Joseph Ehrmann - Proprietor, Elixir, San Francisco
Ziggy Eschliman - The Wine Gal and Countess of Cocktails, Wine Country Radio, Santa Rosa
Michael Feil - GM / Wine & Spirits Buyer, Westchester Country Club, Rye
David Grapshi - Tequila National Sales Manager, Sazerac / Gemini, Walnut Creek
Thomas “Mac” Gregory - Food & Beverage Director, The Phoenician Hotel, Arizona
Kim Haasarud - Founder, Liquid Architecture, Phoenix
Richard Carleton Hacker - Spirits Journalist, Robb Report; The Tasting Panel Magazine, Los Angeles
Steven Izzo - Beverage Director, Waterbar, San Francisco
Misty Kalkofen - Mixologist, Drink, Boston
Geoff Kleinman - Editor, DrinkSpirits.com, Portland
Francesco Lafranconi - Southern Wine & Spirits, Natl. Dir. of Mixology and Spirits Education, Las Vegas
Drew Levinson - Beverage Development, Wirtz Beverage Nevada, Las Vegas
Jordan Mackay - Wine & Spirits Editor, 7×7 Magazine, San Francisco
David Mahoney - Wine & Spirits Writer, Minneapolis
Meridith May - Publisher & Executive Editor, The Tasting Panel Magazine, Los Angeles
Tim McDonald - President, Wine Spoken Here, Napa
Jeffrey Morgenthaler - Bar Manager/Founder, Clyde Common/RepealDay.org, Portland
Nick Passmore - Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, Bloomberg Businessweek
Patricia Richards - Proprietor & CEO, Bar Chef Biz, Inc., Las Vegas
Jim Romdall - Manager and Mixologist, Vessel, Seattle
Trudy Thomas - Director of Beverage, JW Marriott Camelback Inn, Scottsdale
Kevin M. Vogt, MS - Wine & Spirits Director, Emeril’s Restaurants Las Vegas


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