These Unlikely Bottles Just Won the American Craft Spirits Awards

A Florida brandy, Brooklyn peated rye and a saffron amaro won top honors

Screenshot from Craft Spirits Awards Presentation

Tough times, so from the safety of our homes, let’s give a toast to the best of America.

Which is exactly what happened at the 2020 Craft Spirits Awards. Now in its seventh year, the awards — founded and run by the non-profit trade group American Craft Spirits Association — was held via online webinar in lieu of the originally scheduled ceremony to be held in Portland, Oregon.

Thankfully, the judging was actually done last October at Cardinal Spirits in Bloomington, Indiana. As the booze site Distillery Trail notes, “Spirits were scored on appearance, aroma intensity, aroma complexity, palate concentration, palate complexity, body, character and nature of alcohol, texture, and finish.”

The awards featured over 500 entrants from 42 states, as judged by 30 experts. Besides the usual whiskey, gin and rum designations, the ACSA also launched a Ready to Drink category and continued a series of Innovation Awards for spirits that “stray from the norm.”

The overall Best in Show winner went to ChainBridge Distillery of Oakland Park, Florida, for their Williams Pear Brandy. The family-run distillery is just over a year old and crafts sugarcane-distilled vodka and plum and blueberry brandies (run by the Hungarian-born Bela Nahori, the fruity brandies are an homage to one of his home country’s national drinks, known as pálinka.)

The rest of the winners:

Pittsburgh’s Wigle won with their Saffron Amaro (Photo: Kirk Miller)

Best In Class Honorees:

Whiskey: Triple Eight Distillery, The Notch Nantucket Island Single Malt Whisky 12 Years (Nantucket, MA)

Gin: Three Floyds Distilling Co., Wight VVitch Midwestern Gin (Munster, IN)

Rum:  Proof and Wood Ventures, The Funk (New Canaan, CT)

Vodka & Grain Spirits: Boot Hill Distillery, Boot Hill Distillery Vodka (Dodge City, KS)

Brandy: ChainBridge Distillery, Williams Pear Brandy (Oakland Park, FL)

Distilled Specialty Spirits: Pittsburgh Distilling Company, Wigle Saffron Amaro (Pittsburgh, PA)

RTD: Salt Flats Spirits, Salt Flats Kentucky Mule (Salt Lake City, UT)

Kings County
Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, NY (Photo: Kirk Miller)
Kirk Miller

Innovation Awards:

Whiskey: Kings County Distillery, Peated Rye (Brooklyn, NY)

Gin: Highside Distilling, Highside Distilling Gin (Bainbridge Island, WA)

Vodka: Caledonia Spirits, Barr Hill Vodka (Montpelier, VT)

Distilled Spirits Specialty: Tattersall Distilling, Bitter Orange Liqueur (Minneapolis, MN)

RTD: 1220 Artisan Spirits, Cucumber Hibiscus (St. Louis, MO)

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