American Craft Spirits Association Announces Heartland Whiskey Competition Winners

CHICAGO, IL (May 23, 2017) – The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) today announced the winners of the 2017 Heartland Whiskey Competition which was open to U.S. craft whiskeys made with some corn in the mash bill (the mix of grains used to make whiskey). More than 75 whiskeys from ten heartland states competed for Best of Show, Best of State and select whiskey sub-categories.

The competition, which was generously sponsored by 10 state corn marketing associations, took place on May 18 at CH Distillery in Chicago, Illinois. ACSA facilitated the judging process with board member Chris Montana, owner of Du Nord Distillery, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, serving as the Judging Director.

Best of Show was captured by Fox River Distilling Company from Geneva, Illinois which won for its Bennett Mill Single Barrel Straight Bourbon which earned top score in the Straight Whiskey Category. The owner of Fox River accepted the award on May 20th at the Heartland Spirits Fest where more than 30 craft distilleries poured their product for consumers.

“We are deeply appreciative of the corn marketing associations for their investment and commitment to help craft spirits producers introduce and promote their products,” stated Margie A.S. Lehrman, executive director of ACSA.

The category winners included:

Bourbon          Barrel House Distilling Co. (KY)       Rockcastle Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Corn Whiskey Mammoth Distilling (MI)                   Mammoth Whiskey

Four Grain      Great Northern Distilling (WI)            Great Northern Wisconsin Whiskey

Rye                  Great Northern Distilling (WI)            Great Northern Rye Whiskey

Straight            Fox River Distilling Company (IL)     Bennett Mill Single Barrel Straight Bourbon

(Note: For purposes of this competition, all whiskey sub-categories entered were required to include corn as an ingredient)

Six whiskeys earned a gold medal, while 32 received a silver, and 29 medaled with a bronze at the 2017 Heartland Whiskey Competition. “Several of the distilleries in the Midwest are also working farms so we understand how passionate these distillers are in creating a great product,” stated Jim Raben, Chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board. “On behalf of all the participating corn associations I want to express our great respect for these innovative small business owners and our continued support and cooperation for this growing industry. The great variety of products that rely on corn as a key ingredient is lengthy and we are proud to be a reliable, high-quality supplier.”

The Best in State trophies were awarded to those whiskeys with the highest score in its respective state from all categories. Best of State award was limited to 10 Heartland states, including: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Missouri.

2017 Heartland Whiskey Competition Best in State

Illinois             Fox River Distilling Co.                      Bennett Mill Single Barrel Straight Bourbon

Indiana            Three Rivers Distilling Co.                 Three Rivers Early Bourbon

Iowa                Mississippi River Distilling Co.          Iowish Whiskey

Kansas             Boot Hill Distillery                  Boot Hill Distillery Red Eye Whiskey

Kentucky         Barrel House Distilling Co.     RockCastle Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Michigan         Mammoth Distilling                Mammoth Whiskey

Minnesota       J. Carver Distillery                  Brickyard Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Missouri          Wood Hat Spirits                    Bourbon Rubenesque

Ohio                Mill St. Distillery                    Mill Street Moonshine

Wisconsin       Henry Farms                           J. Henry and Sons Patton Road Reserve

A full list of winners can be found at

Scoring and Medal Criteria

The scoring of whiskies, with judges hand-selected from the Chicago spirits community, was based on a 100-point system with 10 main categories of consideration: Appearance (10 points), Aroma Intensity (10 points), Aroma Complexity (10 points), Palate Concentration (10 points), Palate Complexity (10 points), Body (10 points), Alcohol (10 points), Texture (10 points), Finish (10 points), and Pour for a Peer (10 points). Whiskies 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 State was awarded to the whiskey with the top score among all judged whiskies from that state. The top scoring whiskies were judged a final time in consideration of Best in Show distinction.

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.

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