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New York International Spirits Competition



November 28, 2011

New York International Spirits Competition Judges are real buyers who know what sells
By Francine Cohen

Quickly the New York International Spirits Competition has become a compelling opportunity for hundreds of international brands that are eager to get their product in front of the on-premise and off-premise buyers who can share the world’s best products with their customers.

Founded by Adam Levy, aka The Alcohol Professor, in October 2010, NYISC (( is the first major international spirits competition with trade-only judges from top to bottom. Judges are buyers from top retail stores, restaurant & bar owners and distributors & importers, guaranteeing that each spirit is tested by folks who ultimately make real impact on product sales. Each product submitted is judged against other brands according to its product category as well as its pricing category. Spirits are rated on a set of criteria including appearance, aroma, taste, mouthfeel and finish.

In only its second year of existence the competition, which was held on October 16th, saw submissions go up by 65%. Over 300 spirits were put before a hand-selected panel of critical and acclaimed key trade only judges. These influential buyers, retail storeowners, restaurant/bar proprietors, distributors and importers were selected based upon their unique ability to make a direct impact on sales.

“This year’s significant increase in submissions is a clear sign that the industry truly recognizes and appreciates NYISC’s overall philosophy of judging for real sales impact,” says Adam Levy, Founder of the NYISC. ”While other renowned competitions prize up to 85% of entrants with awards, the discerning panel and ethos of the NYISC is to honor the brands that are most deserving among their peers. This year, NYISC prized only 40% of its entrants.

The Judges awarded only 1 Double Gold Medal, 14 Gold Medals, 46 Silver Medals and 61 Bronze Medals.

Top Honors (and the spirits you’re going to want to try and possibly even buy) include:

Distillery of the Year: Distell LTD of South Africa. Winner of the only Double Gold medal for their Oude Meester Souverein 18yr Reserve for $115

Winning Spirits – separated by Medal and Category

Marquis de Montesquiou VSOP $40


Joya Azul Mezcal $45.99
Real Matlati Mezcal Alma de Espadin $60

Don Julio 1942 Anejo
Dulce Vida Organic Tequila Blanco100 $30
El Tesoro Platinum Tequila $50
El Tesoro Reposado Tequila $54.99

LIV Vodka $27.00
Luksusowa Vodka $14.99

Buchanan 18yr $76.99
Bulleit Rye $29.99
Crown Royal $31.99


Armagnac Castarede Reserva de la Familia $100

Aqua Eau-de-vie $50.50
Distilleria Montanaro Grappa Barolo 1995 $71.99
Oude Meester 12 reserve $50
Remy Martin V V $40.00
Van Ryn’s 20 Yr Collectors Reserve $160

Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin $38.00
Distillery 209 $34.99
Tanqueray London Dry Gin $23.99
Tanqueray Ten Gin $29.99

Art In The Age ROOT $35.00
Cask & Cream Original $10.99
Arak Kawar
Kings Ginger Liqueur $39.99
Pallini Limoncello $26.00
Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur $28.00

Don Julio Blanco $47.99
Don Julio 70 Anejo $79.99
Don Julio Real $350.00
El Tesoro Paradiso $109.99
Mi Casa Tequila Blanco $39.99
Mi Casa Tequila Reposado $44.99
Mi Casa Tequila Anejo $49.99
Ilegal Mezcal Anejo $108.00
Wahaka Mezcal Joven Espadin 37.99
Wahaka Mezcal Reposado Con Gusano 40.99
Wahaka Mezcal Joven Madre Cuishe 78.99
Wahaka Mezcal Joven Tobala $78.99

Bacardi Select $13.49
Botran Rum
Botran Solera
Denizen Rum $14.99
English Harbour Rum $29.99

Jose Cuervo Silver

Bee Vodka $48.99
Mainstay Vodka $15.00

Contarf 1014 Irish Whiskey
Corsair Quinoa Whiskey $45.00
Glenlivet Nadurra $59.99
Troy & Sons Moonshine $29.95
Vickers Brothers $50.00


Distilleria Montanaro Grappa Arneis $61.99
Oude Meester Demant $20.00
Pisco Don Alvaro $45.00
Pisco Porton $40.00
Van Ryn’s 12 Yr Distillers Reserve $65.00

Hendrick’s Gin $35.00
Gibson Gin $20.00
Sipsmith London Dry Gin $45.00
Smooth Ambler Greenbrier Gin $29.99

Art In The Age Snap $35.00
Bailey Caramel $26.99
Bittermen Commonwealth $24.99
Cask & Cream Chocolate Tempation $10.99
JAAN-PAAN Liqueur $35.00
Luxardo Cherry Liqueur $23.95
St Germain $35.99
Tekirdag Rakisi Gold
Yeni Raki Ala Raki $34.90

Atlantico Platino $19.99
Atlantico Reserva $24.99
Bacardi Oakheart $13.99
Bacardi Rock Coconut $14.99
Bacardi 8 $20.02
Bacardi Reserva Limiteda $84.99
Dos Maderas 5+3 29.99
Dos Maderas PX 39.99
Envy Rum $28.00

3 Amigos Tequila Organic Blanco $29.99
Chinaco Reposado $54.99
Don Julio Anejo $55.99
Dulce Vida Organic Tequila Anejo $45.00
Entre Dos Tierras Gold $25.00
El Tesoro Anejo Tequila $59.99
Familia Camarena Reposado $20.00
Familia Camarena Tequila Silver $20.00
Jose Cuervo Tradicional
Jose Cuervo Extra Anejo

Broken Shed Vodka $43.10
Brooklyn Republic Vodka $23.99
Missippi River Pilot $23.99
Pyla Vodka $43.10
Purity Vodka $39.00
Reyka Vodka $22.00
Smooth Ambler Whitewater Vodka
Valentine Vodka $26.99

Black Bull $49.95
Buchanan Original $37.99
Bushmills Original $26.99
Crown Royal XR $139.99
Four Roses Bourbon Single Barrel $45.00
Four Roses Bourbon Small Batch $35.00
Four Roses Bourbon 2011 Limited Edition Small Batch $95.00
George Dickell 12yr 19.99
George Dickell Barrel Select 24.99
Glenlivet 12yr $34.99
Glenlivet 15yr $49.99
Highland Park 18yr 109.99
Whistle Pig
The Wild Geese Irish Soldiers Classic Blend $39.99

This Year’s NYISC 2011 judging panel included:
Chris Hiatt- Retail Store Buyer Slope Cellars, Brooklyn
Raphael Reyes- Mixologist at 1534
Francis Schott- Partner Stage Left, New Brunswick NJ and Restaurant Guys Radio
David Lombardo – Beverage Director at Benchmarc Restaurants
Courtenay Greenleaf- Tequila Librarian La Biblioteca Richard Sandoval Restaurants
Junior Merino – Liquid Chef
David Grapshi
Nicolas Palazzi – PM Spirits
Stephanie Moreno- Spirits Buyer
Flavien Desoblin- Owner of Brand Library
Patrick McCarthy- Whiskey Buyer, Bayway Liquors, Elizabeth NJ
John Ranklin- Spirits Buyer- Chamber Street Wine Store, NY NY
Marlon Paltoo- Spirits Buyer- Park Avenue Liquors
Elana Effrat – Spirits Buyer
Jeff Galli- Spirits Buyer Char No. 4
Michael Neff- Ward III
Scott Rosenbaum- Buyer for retailer Vitis
James Menite – Fornino
David Ross -Beverage Director at Feng Asian Bistro in CT
Frank Cisneros- Mixologist at Dram
Julie Albertini- Corporate Mixologist for Allied Beverage



August 24, 2011

The end of the spirits competition as youth soccer league
By Francine Cohen

Photo by Keith Long

Summer is coming to a close which means in a few more weeks covers will start getting back up to their pre-summer levels, brands will kick off their 2012 marketing budgets, and kids go back to school and their fall soccer leagues.

While it might not seem as if underage soccer enthusiasts have anything to do with spirits and spirit competitions, they do. Think back to when you were running around on that soccer field and how much you loved the game, the team’s camaraderie, and winning.

But is it really winning when almost every spirit gets a medal the same way every kid on the team gets a medal for showing up? The new breed of cocktail competitions doesn’t think so. In fact, Paul Pacult, founder of the Ultimate Beverage Competition, was quoted in an earlier story (’re-the-best-2/) as saying, “We’re differentiating ourselves from just about all other competitions which issue medals like peanuts at the circus.”

The aversion to the “every kid in the class gets a Valentine” mentality and the blind judging by spirits buyers who evaluate spirits by pricing bands within each category is also what sets the New York International Spirits Competition (NYISC, ) apart from existing competitions. Continue Reading…



December 24, 2010

Introducing the medal winners from the debut of the New York International Spirits Competition

The debut of the New York International Spirits Competition saw 187 submissions from 28 countries in 47 categories in its inaugural competition. Yet only 95 were deemed medal worthy.

Medals were bestowed at Brandy Library, the site of the competition which put all 187 spirits in front of a panel of industry judges that included buyers from the top retail stores, restaurant and bar owners, distributors and importers, all of whom donated their time and palates without hesitation or compensation.

With much deliberation, but without hesitation, these unbiased judges awarded 1 Double Gold, 13 Golds, 36 Silver and 45 Bronze Medals as well as recognizing two companies for their contributions to the industry and named them Distillery of The Year and Importer of The Year.

In this competition which doesn’t invite members of the media to judge as many other competitions do, the competition asks judges to evaluate spirits within their categories at pricing parity. So, for instance, a whiskey that retails for $50 will be judged with other whiskeys in that price range and not be put up against whiskies that go for $100.

According to competition founder Adam Levy, “While keeping to the philosophy that ‘like should be compared with like’ when it comes to pricing, the competition also strives to only award the crème de la crème in a category, instead of handing out medals to every entrant. Only the truly stand-out brands end up in the winner’s circle and then, accordingly, find themselves placed up Continue Reading…