Spirits in the Air: New Awards, Events and Products

And now it’s time for more spirit judging results, this time from the Polished Palate’s International Rum Competition. (Disclaimer: I head the judging for this one.) Judges also included wine and spirit educator Harriet Lembeck, beer and spirits writer and consultant Stephen Beaumont and rum guy Luis Ayala. The result was big wins for Panamanian rums. Best of Show and best rum aged more than 15 years was Zafra Master Reserve Rum from Panama; best of category dark rum was Khukri from Nepal; best rum aged up to eight years was Ron Abuelo 7 Anos from Panama; best rum aged between nine and 12 years was Ron Abuelo 12 Anos from Panama.

New York agave fans are encouraged to check out the Spirits of Mexico NYC event held at Toloache restaurant April 22. There will be dozens of tequilas, mezcals and sotols to sample, as well as seminars featuring master distillers and blenders, experts and mixologists. I’ll be there to reveal the secrets to tasting the way professionals do. Buy tickets here.

Also announced: The New York Spirits Awards and the New York Wine Awards are both taking place in NYC the week of June 14. Information about last year’s competition and winners, this year’s location and awards, and entry forms and guidelines can be found at the competition’s site, www.nyspiritsawards.com.

GvineThere are plenty of new spirits on the release track. Beefeater is planning a limited release, lower proof, elderflower-, hibiscus- and black-currant-tweaked summer gin. Ketel One will introduce an orange-flavored vodka variety. Makers of G’Vine Gin, the French gin made from the grape spirit and whose botanical mix includes grapevine flowers, is officially rolling out G’Vine Nouaison nationwide. G’Vine Nouaison has a stronger juniper quality and is a more assertive version than G’Vine Floraison, which it joins. The same company also will soon release L’Esprit de June, a 28 percent alcohol by volume cordial made from grapevine flowers of ugni blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Tequila Corrido issued its first reposado, and new tequila brands are increasingly hitting the market, like Familia Camarena Tequila in blanco and reposado and Kah Tequila’s three expressions – blanco, reposado and añejo (all are organic, and the blanco is kosher). Finally, whiskey fans, keep your eye peeled next month for WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey – handpicked by David Pickerell, formerly of Maker’s Mark, aged for a minimum of 10 years. The whiskey, that is, not David – he’s well past 10 years.

Camarena Tequila

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