American Craft Spirits Association Announces 2016 Craft Spirits Awards

Recipients Selected from a Record-Breaking Pool of Entrants Across 39 States

CHICAGO, IL (March 3, 2016) – The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), in affiliation with Artisan Spirit Magazine (ASM), last night announced the winners of its Third Annual Judging of Craft Spirits, who were honored during the Awards Dinner as part of the Third Annual ACSA Distillers Convention and Vendor Trade Show at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. Winners were hand-selected among a record-breaking pool of nearly 450 entrants – up more than 30 percent over last year.

During the event, Jamie Karubas, of O-I, the world’s largest glass container manufacturer, proudly bestowed the evening’s ultimate honor, the Best in Show Award, to Allegheny Distilling for its Maggie’s Farm Single Barrel Rum, marking the second straight year the distillery has taken home a top prize, after earning a Best in Class distinction for its Maggie’s Farm Queen’s Share Double Barrel Rum last year.  Together, master of ceremonies Brian Christensen (ASM), judging Co-Chairs Dave Pickerell and Ted Huber and the ACSA Board of Directors also awarded six Best in Class distinctions, the highest honor in each of the six judging categories, to a mix of both established, award-winning distilleries and younger newcomers.


Best In Class Winners in each category included:

Whiskey:  Still 630, for Double Barrel RallyPoint

Gin: New Holland Artisan Spirits, for Barrel Aged Knickerbocker Gin

Rum:  Allegheny Distilling, for Maggie’s Farm Queen’s Single Barrel

Liqueurs and Distilled Spirits Specialty:  Huber’s Starlight Distillery, for Starlight Distillery Blueberry Liqueur

Vodka: Ballast Point Spirits, for Fugu Vodka


This year, entries were submitted from 39 states across the country in six main categories: Whiskey, Brandy, Rum, Gin, Liqueurs, Distilled Spirits Specialty (DSS), and Vodka & Grain Spirits.  In addition to the Best in Class Distinctions, the judging panel awarded 34 Gold, 173 Silver and 132 Bronze medals.

The complete list of winners is available on the ACSA website,

About the Judging

The 3rd Annual American Craft Spirits Competition was judged on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20, 2016 at Starlight Distillery in Borden, IN. by a panel of 17 judges, including Marianne Barnes, Martin Cate, Paul Criscuolo, Wayne Curtis, Martin Duffy, Tom Fischer, Pat Heist, Logan Hunter, Tom Jensen, Bernie Lubbers, Mike Miller, Juan Alfredo Pacas, Emily Pennington, Noah Rothbaum, Dave Scheurich, Gary Spedding, and Richard Wolf.  ACSA takes great pride in conducting a rigorously professional judging program in accordance with a series of detailed protocols.


All spirit entry categories and sub-categories were defined by the TTB in Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  Spirit entry categories consisted of two make-categories: Made from Scratch and Third Party Distilled.

Judging Structure

ACSA’s Judging Panels consisted of an Anchor Judge plus a minimum of three and a maximum of five bench judges.  The judges represented a diverse range of spirits experts within the industry, including retailers, bar industry leaders, wholesalers, educators and journalists.

Scoring and Medal Criteria

The scoring of spirits was based on a 100-point system with five main categories of consideration: Nose (20 points), Palate (20 points), Balance (20 points), Finish (20 points) and Appearance (20).  Spirits were then assigned a medal based on the average score determined by the following benchmarks: 70-79 = Bronze; 80-89 = Silver; 90-100 = Gold.

Best in Class / Best in Show

The top awarded spirits were then judged a final time in consideration of a Best in Class / Best in Show distinction.  The Anchor Judge collected votes from each panel member for their favorite spirits. If the results were conclusive on the first vote, the results were then recorded.  If the results were inconclusive, the judges used a ranked scoring, allowing three points for first place, two points for second place and one point for third place. The spirit that received the highest score in each category was then named Best of Class.

About ACSA

The American Craft Spirits Association is the only registered non-profit trade association representing the U.S. craft spirits industry.  Its mission is to elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers, and membership in ACSA is open to anyone.

ACSA is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the eligible voting members of the Association.  Voting members must be independent, licensed distillers (DSPs) annually removing fewer than 750,000 proof gallons from bond (the amount on which a Federal Excise Tax is paid.)  For information about ACSA, call 202-669-3661.

©2024 American Craft Spirits Association; All Rights Reserved. Member Owned, Industry Driven.

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