Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The ACDA Gives Its First Awards

What follows this short introduction is the press release from the American Craft Distillers Association (ACDA), announcing the results of its spirits competition. At least that's what it says it is, but rather than announcing the results, the release is a lot of words about how the entries were judged, with just the Best in Class and Best in Show winners listed at the end, followed by a link to the full list.

They got it backwards. I think I would have joyfully trumpeted the heroes and provided a link to the back room details. The paragraph just before the winners list is particularly self-conscious. Follow the link and you'll see what they may be trying to hide. This awards program suffers from the same sin as most. Too damn many awards given.

Despite the wordy process explanation, questions abound. Why are brandy and liqueurs lumped together in the same category? How can moonshine be a category when moonshine isn't a type?

Trade associations serve least when they succumb to the worst tendencies of their membership.

This whole thing rubbed me the wrong way, see how it rubs you.

The American Craft Distillers Association (ACDA) announces today the results of its inaugural spirits competition. The inaugural American Craft Spirits Association spirits competition was held February 5th and 6th at Huber's Plantation Hall in Starlight, Indiana. Over 300 spirits were entered.

The Judging Board, consisting of Ted Huber and David Pickerell, established five head judges in each of the competition categories: Whiskey, Gin, Rum, Brandy/Liqueur and Moonshine. Judges included distillers, spirits journalists, mixologists, and consultants to the trade.

The judging was conducted 'blind.'  None of the judges was allowed to observe the spirits prior to their being brought to them by stewards in flights. In some cases a spirit was submitted twice, to ensure that the determinations remained consistent from flight to flight.

A hundred-point numerical system was employed: 20 pts. - Color (appearance) 30 pts. - Nose (aroma) 30 pts. - Taste (flavor) 20 pts. - Finish (balance). Points alone were not used to determine the medalists. A subjective element was also considered: Bronze: "Is this a spirit you would buy?" Silver: "Is this a spirit you would seriously recommend to a friend?" Gold: "Is this a spirit you would buy for yourself as a special addition to your collection?"

The Best in Class determinations were made by re-judging the gold medalists in each category.

The Best of Show was chosen by a separate judging of the Best in Class winners. The medals were awarded on the merits determined by the judges. If they felt that no category merited a gold medal winner, no gold was granted. In the same manner, if they felt that multiple gold medals (or silver or bronze medals) were appropriate, they were awarded.

As a not-for-profit Trade Association, directed by licensed distillers for the benefit of licensed distillers, our greatest ambition is for the winners within the ACDA craft spirits competition to appreciate that they have achieved a great distinction for the quality of their products, and can assert with authority that, by jury of experts, they have merited awards of unqualified excellence.

Best In Class: 

Whiskey: Balcones Distilling, Cask Strength True Blue Corn Whiskey
Gin: Captive Spirits Distillery, Bourbon Barreled Big Gin
Rum: Louisiana Spirits, Spiced Bayou Rum
Brandy: San Juan Island Distillery, Apple Brandy
Moonshine: Dark Corner Distillery, Moonshine

Best In Show: 

Balcones Distilling, Cask Strength True Blue Corn Whiskey

A list of all the winners can be found [here] on the ACDA Website


Justin Victor said...

At first read through I dont really see much that raises any real red flags for me. Most of these bottles are not available to me in OK. The few I have tried have been brought in from other states. Of those that I have tried, most suffer the same couple of craft distilled "mistakes". Either they are too young or they have been matured in small/smaller barrels. To me, whiskey aged in small barrels takes on a certain taste profile I do not enjoy.

After further examination I can see a possible dig against the KDA when they explain themselves as a not for profit jury of these small distilleries' peers.

I will watch further comments on this post to see what you are saying "between the lines". Which is, of course, why I read your blog in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Everybody wins! Medals for all participants! It's like a kids' soccer game where no one keeps score.

t ball said...

No Gold awarded in Rum. It looks like they just split everything up into tiers and chose a few top spirits.

Chuck Cowdery said...

Read that last paragraph again, the one that starts, "As a not-for-profit Trade Association..."

What they should have asked themselves is, "How can we make this meaningful to consumers?" Instead they asked, "How can we give our members bragging rights?" Isn't that what that paragraph says?

Anonymous said...

114 out of 300+ got an award. That might look like allot, but perhaps it’s not.

Consider the criteria to get an award.

Bronze: "Is this a spirit you would buy?"

The Trade association is telling you they would not buy most of their members products.