Medal and Premium Award Winners Announced from 16th Annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition®

(March 29, 2016; San Francisco, Calif.)-The San Francisco World Spirits Competition®, the nation’s largest and most influential of its kind, has announced the medal and award recipients from its 16th annual competition, held March 17th through 20th at Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. Out of this year’s record-breaking 1,899 entries, only 200 were awarded the prestigious Double Gold medal by the 39-person judging panel. A full list of medals and premium awards, broken down by category, will be posted to on April 4th.

“The San Francisco World Spirits Competition® is the most influential in the industry and winning a medal here is very meaningful,” says competition director Anthony Dias Blue. “We have the industry’s most respected experts serving as judges, and every entry is blind-tasted under highly focused conditions. There is no better way to discern quality and identify trends.”

With a 20% increase in entries over the prior year, the 2016 competition has continued its linear growth from 292 entries at the inaugural 2000 competition. Some of the most notable growth this year was seen in Gin with 197 entries (up from 136 in 2015), Vodka with 209 entries (up from 172 in 2015), and in the Craft Distiller category with 57 entries (up from 22 in 2015).

The competition is also receiving a wider variety of entries from diverse categories and regions. “Because the San Francisco World Spirits Competition® is the biggest, we receive more and more products from around the world,” says Levi Walker of Campari America. “It’s exciting every year to taste more Baijius from China, Mezcals from Mexico, and Jenevers from Holland.”

One of the regions making its first appearance at the competition was Réunion Island, with Rhums & Punchs Isautier winning Best Rhum Agricole and a Double Gold for its Isautier Blanc Rhum Agricole. Another country making its debut this year was Armenia, with three Ararat Brandy entries winning one Gold and two Silver medals.

Premium Awards Leading winners from the sweepstakes included Best in Show Un-Aged White Spirit, which went to Pisco La Caravedo Puro Torontel, Hacienda La Caravedo, marking the third straight year a Pisco has won this category. Best in Show Aged White Spirit went to Siete Leguas Reposado Tequila. Best in Show Whiskey went to Redbreast 21 Year Old Irish Whiskey, making it the first time an Irish Whiskey has won the award. Best in Show Brandy went to Armagnac Janneau 18 Year Old Armagnac XO. Best in Show Liqueur went to Fiji Rum Co. Coffee Rum Liqueur. Other highlights included Best Gin, which went to Calyx 2015 Edition Gin. Best Bourbon went to Four Roses 2015 Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon. Best Vodka went to Georgian Bay Vodka. Best Rum went to Rum Cartavio 18 Year Old XO Rum.

Awarded annually, this year’s Tasting Panel Magazine Distillery of the Year went to Bunnahabhain Distillery of Islay, Scotland, who’s 25 Year Old Single Malt Scotch also won Best Scotch. Importer of the Year went to Pernod Ricard, New York, USA and the Director’s Award of Excellence went to Four Roses Distillery, Kentucky, USA. In the Packaging Competition this year there were 17 Double Gold medals awarded.

First-time judges Scott Ellis (US Western Regional Manager, Compass Box) and Charlotte Voisey (Director, Brand Advocacy, William Grant & Sons), Director of Judging Tony Abou-Ganim, returning judge Dale Degroff, & Executive Director Anthony Dias Blue Judges

The judging panel was comprised of 39 industry experts, with many returning to the roster, including noted spirits writer and author David Wondrich, writer and photographer Richard Carleton Hacker, Master mixologist Dale DeGroff, and Tony Abou-Ganim, aka the Modern Mixologist, serving as Director of Judging for his 7th year.

Spirits educator and consultant Stephen Beal, who has served as a judge since the competition’s inception, comments “The best palates in the world come to this competition, and the biggest personalities in the spirits business come here as well. We have a mixture of technical experts, historians, bartenders, and industry professionals. Every panel is very interesting and every product gets its own special look from several perspectives. This is why if you win a Double Gold or Best in Class award here, you can become an internationally acclaimed brand.”

For a full list of judges, please visit

About San Francisco World Spirits Competition®
Founded in 2000, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition® is America’s most respected and influential international spirits event. Products are evaluated in a blind, consensual procedure ensuring the SFWSC maintains its reputation for the highest level of integrity. Winning participants receive the awards of double gold, gold, silver or bronze, marking their product as one of the highest quality in the world.