Over 1,400 entries at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition... that's a stunning result! We've been following the competition closely for over 5 years now and every year it's exciting to see how traditional labels fared and what upstarts are making waves. More importantly, we spend hours digesting those results so that you don't have to. This Part 2 examines the top half of the alphabet with San Francisco's results. (Why the bottom half? Because it's an even year.) Here are those results that we found most interesting...
- Laphroaig 10yr Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch has had an incredible run at the competition. Since 2005 it has been entered every year and received 6 double gold medals and 3 gold medals... astonishing! That is, until this year where it received a bronze medal. A change in the formula or an anomaly with the judges?
- Knob Creek Bourbon pulled down its third straight double-gold medal, to the delight of high-proof, deep-wooded bourbon lovers everywhere.
- Knob Creek Rye similarly pulled down its third straight double gold medal... these are outstanding results from San Francisco and a validation of what large companies can do when they commit to quality.
- The Kavalan Single Malt Whisky line from Taiwan has had a stupendous run with the critics. The name dominates our top-20 list of whiskey across the world. 4 of the 5 Solist lines won a double-gold medal with the 5th taking gold. In a nation that is obsessed with Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, the true clamor should be raised for making importers aware of what's going on in Taiwan.
- Always nice to see one of our favorites doing well and Jameson 12yr did exactly that by pulling down a double gold medal. It's a great whiskey at a generally more modest price. Meanwhile, after winning best Irish Whiskey in 2011, the Jameson Rarest Reserve at $250 took its third straight silver medal, exactly the same as the $28 regular Jameson!
- Critics are often hard on flavored vodkas so sit up and take notice of the Infuse Cinnamon Apple Vodka, which took down Best Flavored Vodka in the competition. It features real fruit suspended in the bottle.
- Hillrock Estate of New York continue to impress the critics with their Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon taking down a double gold medal. This pushes them into the (current) position of the within the top 2% of all whiskey rated in our database.
- Don't look know but the critical darling Hendrick's Gin stumbled this year with a bronze medal (that is, "stumbled" relative to their run of gold.
- Grand Marnier is back in a big way in 2014. They pulled down several medals across the line culminating in the award for overall Best Liqueur for their Centenaire expression.
- In a strong year for orange liqueurs in general, Gran Gala Orange Liqueur also scored a double gold in the San Francisco competition, often available in the low $20's.
- Glenmorangie 10 year single malt scotch has always been very popular and it earned that popularity this year with a double gold medal, easily making it one of the excellent Highland single malt values on the market. But Glenmorangie's great year at San Francisco didn't stop there... their 18yr and 25yr pulled down double-gold medals as well.
- El Tesoro continues to astonish the tequila world. The Platinum expression was named Best Tequila in the entire competition, which is the third time it has been decorated with that owner. The Reposado was named Best Reposado in 2014 as well, the second time it has had that honor.
- In a year with many strong results in the whiskey category, there can be only one overall winner and this year it was the Glencadam 21yr Single Malt Scotch from the Highlands. An impressive stroke for a distillery that is now finding its footing with new ownership.
- Door County Distillery is a small craft distillery in Wisconsin and their vodka came through in a big way this year, claiming a double gold medal this year's competition. Just to prove that it wasn't a fluke, their gin came right through with their own double gold, which has to be more awards than tiny little Door County has ever received for anything, ever.
- Proving that very young single malt whiskeys from American craft distillers can do well, the Cut Spike Single Malt whiskey from Nebraska, a brash 2 year aged product, pulled down a double gold medal from the competition's judges.
- Corsair Artisan Distillery from Tennessee made waves by claiming a double gold medal for their Triple Smoke whiskey and then a double gold plus Best Flavored Gin for their Genever.
- Chivas Regal had an excellent year with their entry level 12y expression getting a double-gold medal (only $30!) while their more venerable 25yr achieved its fourth consecutive double-gold medal, putting it in some very, very elite company.