Ultimate Beverage Challenge Sets New Standard For Spirits, Cocktails and Wine Evaluations

December 1, 2009 (New York, NY). Ultimate Beverage Challenge (UBC) is taking spirits, cocktail, and wine evaluation to the highest level of excellence with the introduction of three cutting-edge competitions in early 2010. 

  • The first Ultimate Spirits Challenge for all distilled spirits categories, including shochu, will be March 1-3, 2010.
  • The Ultimate Cocktail Challenge, in which spirits will be judged on how well they perform in classic cocktails, occurs on April 12-14, 2010
  • The inaugural Ultimate Wine Challenge, for the evaluation of fine still, sparkling, and fortified wines, will be held on June 7-11, 2010.

Founded by award-winning journalist, author, educator and critic F. Paul Pacult, wine and spirits publishing industry veteran David Talbot, and Spirit Journal managing editor Sue Woodley, Ultimate Beverage Challenge will provide both the industry and consumers with a clear and unassailable indication of beverage alcohol quality, in terms that are readily accessible.

All three UBC competitions will be held at Astor Center in New York City (Lafayette & East 4th Street), under the ideal judging conditions, because the world’s foremost beverage evaluation must happen in North America’s state-of-the-art facility.

Said UBC Judging Chairman and Managing partner F. Paul Pacult, “We’re establishing the ultimate beverage challenges upon the foundation of my three interdependent evaluation principles:
integrity, method, and credibility.

  • integrity, because my personal uncompromising supervision and, by extension, the integrity of our judges, assures the validity of each competition’s results;
  • method, by employing an innovative and comprehensive multistage system of evaluation, created specifically for UBC competitions, and 
  • credibility, by gathering the most respected experts in the most ideal judging conditions to reach consensus findings of unimpeachable honesty.”

As stated by Managing Director Sue Woodley, “UBC beverage competitions are designed to build confidence between consumers, who pay attention to contest results for purchasing guidance and beverage alcohol producers and importers who employ results for marketing purposes. UBC competitions will generate the most authoritative and accurate results of any international competition and will be a meaningful marketing tool for beverage alcohol companies, distributors, public relations companies, restaurateurs, retailers, and salespeople.” 

Managing Director David Talbot views UBC as a boon to spirits and wine producers, importers, and marketers in these tough economic times, saying, “Not only will the three competitions redefine how spirits, cocktails and wine should be evaluated by the industry, but we will then bring these newly evaluated results directly to the consumer. In the fall of 2010, UBC will stage two grand consumer events in New York showcasing the winning entries from all three challenges.”

Ultimate Beverage Challenge Assistant Chairman of Judging and founder of BevX.com Sean Ludford added, “UBC is gathering a who’s who of beverage alcohol authorities as judges for the three 2010 competitions. Judges, aside from Paul and myself, will include international superstars, like Jacques Bezuidenhout, Tad Carducci, Charles Curtis, MW, Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost MS, MW,  Ethan Kelley, Don Lee, Jim Meehan, Steve Olson, Nick Passmore, gaz regan, Julie Reiner, Audrey Saunders, Andy Seymour, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan MW, David Wondrich, and more.”

Raising the Judging Standard NOW!
A tacit criticism of many competitions is that their results are inconsistent or, worse, imprecise, due to obsolete methodology or excessive doling out of medals. Said David Talbot of UBC’s coming effect on the beverage industry, “UBC is creating the highest standard possible for beverage evaluation. We’ll be using a unique multilevel scoring system, designed for UBC by Paul, which is based upon the 100-point scale. UBC results will more consistently and accurately recognize benchmark and superb products, setting them apart from the merely average. Producers will gain the maximum benefits for products that win high scores because those products will have earned authoritative accolades rather than ubiquitous medals.” 

Sue Woodley added, “Paul and Sean are excited by the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in early March because they’ve broken down the entry classifications in ways that will showcase products in the best light, evaluated against their closest categorical peers. Spirits will be served in proper glassware at ideal serving temperatures. Vodkas will be served to judges chilled. Cask strength whiskeys will be judged both with and without water dilution. These are pivotal innovations that benefit the products under examination and are long overdue.”

“I’m most thrilled about the revolutionary Ultimate Cocktail Challenge in mid-April,” said Paul Pacult. “UCC is going in the opposite direction of how all other cocktail competitions are conducted. We’re going to evaluate spirits categories in the context of how they taste in representative cocktails. For instance, gins will be tasted in five classic gin cocktails against other entered gin brands. So, one gin might be recognized as the “Best Gin in a Gin & Tonic” while another might garner “Best Gin in a Dry Martini” honors and yet another might win as “Best Gin in an Aviation”. This unique methodology will trail-blaze a new era of spirits and cocktail evaluation.” UBC’s advisors for UCC are master mixologists Dale DeGroff and David Wondrich.

The Ultimate Wine Challenge, to be held June 7-11, 2010 is being advised by Doug Frost, MS, MW and Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan MW. UBC methodology and classifications will likewise be groundbreaking for that Challenge, accentuating the ever-expanding list of wine regions, nations and terroir influences as well as grape varieties and varietal combinations.

Mark your calendars!
Ultimate Beverage Challenges are the future of beverage competitions today.

For more information on all three 2010 UBC competitions please go to
www.ultimate-beverage.com or contact Sue Woodley at [email protected].


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