Industry’s Most Influential Competition Releases Top Results from 18th Annual Blind Judging


SAN FRANCISCO (May 7, 2018) —The San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC), internationally respected as the most influential event of its kind, is proud to announce the top award winners from the 18th annual blind judging, which took place April 13-15 at Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco.

SFWSC Executive Director and Founder Anthony Dias Blue, a James Beard award-winning radio host and Editor-in-Chief of The Tasting Panel, The SOMM Journal, and The Clever Root magazines, says: “We are excited to announce this year’s top award winners, selected from our highest number of entries ever. We proudly endorse each of the winners for offering distilled spirits of the highest standards of excellence to be found across the globe.”

Lead by Blue and SFWSC’s Director of Judging, leading bar professional Tony Abou-Ganim, 47 expert judges from over 65 countries which includes world-renowned cocktail historian David Wondrich, Best American Bartender of the Year winner and Speed Rack co-founder Ivy Mix, (full list here) executed blind spirits tastings for over 2,450 entries. This marks a 9% increase from 2017 in overall entries with an over 60% increase in bourbon, 24% increase in baijiu, 20% increase in rye whisk(ey) and a 10% increase in gin entries.

Top award winners for 2018 are as follows:

  • Tasting Panel Magazine Distillery of the Year: Kavalan Distillery
  • Director’s Award of Excellence: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
  • Importer of the Year: Sazerac Company

Tasting Panel Magazine’s Distillery of the Year goes to Kavalan Distillery, Taiwan’s first whisky maker and the nation’s only family-owned whisky distillery. The Director’s Award of Excellence was awarded to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), founded in Edinburgh in 1983, is a membership organization which bottles and sells single cask, single malt whisky. Importer of the Year went to the largest family-owned spirits company in the United States and owners of Fireball, Southern Comfort, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon and E.H. Taylor Bourbon.

Coveted 2018 Double Gold Medals were awarded to brands including Lock Stock and Barrel 18-Year-Old Straight Rye Whiskey, Mezcal Nucano’s Joven Espadin, Cazcanes Blanco Tequila, Pusser’s Rum, The Italian Bitter Orange Aperitif from Adelaide Hills Distillery. Genever, a new category this year, saw a Double Gold awarded to Old Duff. For the third year in a row, Pisco La Caravedo’s Puro Torentel Pisco won Best Pisco.

On Monday, May 14, full 2018 results will be released. Reflecting the latest industry trends, this year’s entry categories were expanded to include Single Grain Whisk[e]y, Other Single Malt Whisk[e]y, Irish Poitin, Genever, Old Tom Gin, Barrel-Aged Gin, Bitters and Non-Alcoholic Syrups. Full results for this year’s SFWSC Bronze, Silver, Gold and Double Gold medal winners available upon request.

About the San Francisco World Spirits Competition:

  • The San Francisco World Spirits Competition was founded in 2000.
  • The SFWSC is the world’s most respected and influential international spirits competition, and the largest event of its kind in the U.S.
  • More than 2,450 entries in 2018 were judged in more than 100 spirits categories.
  • Products are evaluated in a blind, consensual procedure ensuring the SFWSC maintains its reputation for the highest level of integrity.
  • The first ever “Cocktail of the Year” competition took place on Thursday, April 12. San Francisco’s H. Joseph Ehrmann won with his Pamplemousse au Poivre, featuring a base of Mezcal Banhez.
  • The 2018 Spirits Competition took place over three days, April 13-15.
  • Winning participants receive the awards of Double Gold, Gold, Silver, or Bronze, marking their product as one of the highest quality in the world.
  • In addition to bestowing medallions, the Competition provides a variety of post-event support programs to help winners turn awards into effective sales tools. The SFWSC sponsors nationwide tasting events throughout the year where trade professionals can sample the Competition’s top winners; Competition winners enjoy discounts on point-of-sale and other printed materials through SFWSC’s strategic partners; and winners are eligible to purchase medallion bottle stickers and to reproduce medallion imagery in their print and online promotions.

For more information, including a roster and bios of the Competition’s 2018 judges, please visit the SFWSC website:

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