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Spirits Competitions - Do you enter them? Which ones? Are the awards helpful?


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Hello All,

Long time reader, first time poster. Appreciative of all the great info here.

We've recently opened a micro-distillery and after a long (LONG) time, we're finally debuting our first product in the next couple of weeks, a potato vodka.

I'm wondering about entering our product in some competitions. I know as a consumer, I always liked to hear that a particular brand had won this or that award. (I may be a bit less naiive now, though, after researching these competitions and finding that as many as 80% of entrants win an award... that was surprising!)

I'd like to know if you all enter your products in competitions, and how beneficial you find them to be to sales. Most of all, though, I'd love some guidance on which competitions you regard as the best ones to enter?

Sorry if this question has been posed and answered before, and thank you all for the great resource that is ADI.

- Kelly

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I see a lot of people doing the San Francisco World Spirits competition. I am surprised more people on the forum aren't giving feedback. I know lots and lots of people here are in the competitions. I think there might be a bit of a worry that it will get harder and harder to get a meaningful award with so many craft distillers entering the marketplace entering the competitions.

Many of these places pretty well guarantee some kind of recognition if you are willing to pay the entrance fee. Ultimately, I think it depends on your market as to the value you gain. If you think your customers are the type well swayed by a medal, then do it. If you fail to get recognized, no one is any the wiser. Entrance for San Francisco is under $500 plus a couple of bottles of your stuff.

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The ADI spirits competition is the only one, to date, that we have found to be worth the effort. Their judges are top notch (not just an assembly of bartenders, bloggers, and self proclaimed experts), they provide judges feedback/score sheets, and they differentiate between spirits that are distilled by the entrant vs. merchant bottling (re-bottling someone else's booze). There are probably a handful of other spirit comps that are in line with ADI's practices but I'm not aware of any.

If you want a medal for marketing purposes, enter any of the the spirt comps out there. They sling medals like it's their job - oh wait... it is their job.

Something that I believe worth noting... The most substantial beer comps out there charge far less per entry, they typically follow a national standard for judging criteria (bjcp guidlines) and always provide judging sheets. I wish the majority of craft spirit comps would take note.

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My only complaint with these competitions in general is that they do not provide tasting notes. Coming from the beer world, the judging sheets from every competition are always more valuable than any medals. We entered the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the SIP Awards. Neither one provided ANY tasting notes...

I understand the skepticisms regarding the SIP awards being judged by "non-industry people" but to me I would rather have a consumer give me a thumbs up than some industry snob because I am not selling my product to the industry guys.

I think though all competitions have their place, and (unfortunately) price.

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  • 6 months later...

Having just done the San Francisco World Spirits Competition this year, I concur with Jake. The lack of any real feedback is of little help to a craft distillery. I want to know what they think, not just the color of the medal they give you. Too bad we missed the ADI one. I will do some more and give my feedback, but I think I would skip SFO unless you are just looking to put a little medallion on your bottle or web site.

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