Judging The World’s Best at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition

This past weekend, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition was held at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco. Now in it’s eleventh year, the annual event brings in more than 1000 participant entries, with nearly 60 countries vying for a chance to win bragging rights as top spirit in their field. Judges compare tastes in categories that include the staples, like gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila and rums, as well as more artisan products, such as liqueurs, aperitifs, and schnapps.

Founder and Executive Director Anthony Dias Blue, along with mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, direct the judging panel of national bar experts and trendsetters as they sift through wave after wave of spirits, in search of the one that represents the gold standard in its respected field. Though this may sound delightful to the amateur drinker, tasters only hold the raw spirit in their mouths long enough to grasp the flavor and body before adding it to their nearest spit bucket. And then it’s rinse and repeat. Despite the rigorous tasting schedule, Ganim was pleased with the success of the 2011 event.

“The 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition raised itself to an even higher level of expertise this year,” said Tony Abou-Ganim, Director of Judging. “With the restructuring of the format of the event – I think the extra day focused entirely on the sweepstakes, additional time allotted to judging each entry, and the new judges added to the panel, will guarantee that this gathering will continue to be one of the most respected spirits contests in the world. Speaking of the new judges, the weekend brought together some of the finest spirits palates working in the industry today. I feel honored that I could once again be a part of this wonderful event.”

With final results available March 29, spirits fans can check the San Francisco World Spirits Competition page to find out who came out on top over the event weekend.

~Neil Kopplin, Imbue Vermouth


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