The San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) has announced the top award winners from the 18th annual blind judging, which took place April 13-15 at Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco.
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 Sazerac Company, 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.
SFWSC awarded 2018 Double Gold Medals 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.
“We are excited to announce this year’s top award winners, selected from our highest number of entries ever,” says 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. “We proudly endorse each of the winners for offering distilled spirits of the highest standards of excellence to be found across the globe.”
Full 2018 results will be released on Monday, May 14. 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.
Lead by Blue and SFWSC’s Director of Judging, leading bar professional Tony Abou-Ganim, 47 expert judges from more than 65 countries—including world-renowned cocktail historian David Wondrich—executed blind spirits tastings for over 2,450 entries. This marks a 9 percent increase from 2017 in overall entries with an over 60 percent increase in bourbon, 24 percent increase in baijiu, 20 percent increase in rye whisk(e)y) and a 10 percent increase in gin entries.