judging process & awards

Blind Tasting: Ensuring equal consideration

Throughout four days of highly controlled blind tastings, our experienced judging panels taste every product to decide if it is medal-worthy. Judges do not receive any information on producer or price point, ensuring each spirit is judged fairly, equally, and without bias.

Medaling Round: Judging each entry on its own merit

While tasting, judges evaluate each product on an individual basis—not compared to other entries in the flight. During this stage, judges determine which entries are worthy of a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal. Entries that receive a Gold medal from all judges earn a Double Gold award.

What does each medal mean?

  • Bronze: A well-crafted spirit that is commercially sound, modestly attractive and free from significant flaws; among the better examples of its category.
  • Silver: An outstanding spirit that shows refinement, finesse and complexity; among the best examples of its category.
  • Gold: An exceptional spirit that is near the pinnacle of achievement; sets the standard for its category.
  • Double Gold: Awarded to the very few entries that receive a Gold medal rating by all members of the judging panel; among the finest products in the world.

Premium Awards: Recognizing the best of the best

On the final day of the Competition, select Double Gold spirits advance to the Sweepstakes round. Here, all competition judges deliberate to determine the Best of Class and Best in Show Premium Award winners.

  • Best of Class: The best example of each spirit type

  • Best in Show: The Competition’s highest honors. Chosen from the Best of Class winners, these awards highlight the best spirit in these five categories: Unaged White Spirit, Aged White Spirit, Whisky/Whiskey, Brandy and Liqueur
  • The Tasting Panel Magazine Distillery of the Year
  • The Tasting Panel Magazine Importer of the Year
  • Director’s Award of Excellence: Honors an outstanding portfolio of quality, diverse spirits