Awards and Honors

Winners of the 2014 Denver International Spirits Competition

The Denver International Spirits Competition, the only international spirits competition in the Rockies, has announced the list of 2014 medal winners. During the event from March 1-2 at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, fourteen spirits professionals tasted almost 200 spirits in a double-blind tasting.

See also: Highlights from last night's Pairsine Chefs Fine Food and Wine Pairing Competition

The Denver International Spirits competition got its start in 2012, when Christopher J. Davies and Darcy R. Davies -- publishers and co-founders of Wine Country International Magazine -- learned there was no professional regional competition for the wines and spirits they have long been reviewing. "We modeled our competition pretty much after what is been done in San Francisco and in London, " says Christopher J. Davies. "And we have the best judges, mainly from Colorado, but we have some coming from out of state, too."

In its third year, the competition saw double the number of entries over the previous year. "Distilleries that find out about the competition looked and see who won last year and they say, 'You know what, I can't believe bhat Bourbon won a silver medal, mine is better,' and that's usually how they enter," Davies says. "It's like it grows like a snowball."

Judges -- including Tom Fischer, founder of the Bourbon Blog; Dave Elger, host of the Cooking Channel's Hot Mixology; and Timothy Baldwin, food and beverage director of The Little Nell Hotel in Aspen -- cast their votes for the best spirit entries in as many as 102 categories. But not only the top spirits were chosen; a panel of recognized graphic designers, art directors and wine retailers also selected the best spirits packing designs from the competition.

"What I like from being a judge is actually the process of really getting to decide what makes a spirit great in a blind scenario," says judge Tom Fischer. "Not everybody can be a judge in a spirit competition, but everybody can be a judge in their own homes. Consumers can sit down, have their wives, husbands or friends pouring them five or four different bourbons or vodkas, and they can actually do their own blind taste and get to realize what is that they like."

Top Spirits Winners:

BEST OF SHOW 2014 Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila DOUBLE GOLD Republic Tequila Plata DOUBLE GOLD Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila DOUBLE GOLD Pirassununga Cachaca 51 DOUBLE GOLD Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon DOUBLE GOLD E&J Brandy VS DOUBLE GOLD B&E Distillery Moonshine Grain

Top Packaging Design Winners: GOLD Cooperstown Distillery, New York SILVER Patriarch Distillers, Nebraska BRONZE High Ridge Spirits, Alabama BRONZE Louisiana Spirits, LLC, Louisiana

Davies is already planning a follow-up event: Pairsine Spirit.

"It's an event for consumers, where they can taste the best winners of the competition," he says. Pairsine Spirit will be held sometime in the middle of August and will have ten restaurants involved, with bartenders and and chefs competing to create the best dish and best pairing cocktail. "But the cool thing is that we will not only have a panel of judges -- everyone who got a ticket will be able to vote for their favorite," Davies adds.

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