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Results > 2023 Judge Comments, Platinum & Gold Spirits Award Winners

Reserva Ocho Rare Gold Rum Puerto Rico $39.99 Gold 93 points "I love the barrel influence here, with mellowed oak spice really adding lift to rum's swashbuckling character." - Rich Cook
Sunset Punch RTD $12.99 Gold 92 points "Does exactly what it should do - a very enjoyable drink, perfect for poolside tiki time." - Michael Cervin
Mojito RTD $12.99 Gold 91 points "Does exactly what it should do - a very enjoyable drink, perfect for poolside." - Michael Cervin
Ron Superior Carta Blanca Puerto Rico $12.99 Gold 90 points "A solid, mixable rum that's ready to tiki without adding vanillin into the equation - it'll let your cocktails shine." - Rich Cook
Cierto Tequila
Private Collection Añejo Mexico $139.00 Platinum 94 points "Beautifully clean, balanced caramel notes and heat, light earthiness, silky smooth and light agave still present." - Michael Cervin
Reserve Collection Extra Añejo Mexico $289.00 Platinum 94 points "This does a great job of getting lots of oak character to sidle up to agave and herb tones without burying them. The finish goes on and on and remains complex all the way. Beautiful!" - Rich Cook
Private Collection Blanco Mexico $79.00 Gold 93 points "Great agave notes, light pepper and herbaceous notes." - Michael Cervin "Proper rusticity gets a classy edge here thanks to rich viscosity that holds flaovrs on the palate." - Rich Cook
Reserve Collection Reposado Mexico $129.00 Gold 93 points "A rich texture carries finely tuned agave, oak spice and a dash of pepper - this is quite elegant." - Rich Cook
Private Collection Reposado Mexico $99.00 Gold 92 points "Super smooth, nice rustic notes, silky, good heat." - Michael Cervin "Rustic character is solid here, with earth and herb complementing the agave, and the oak adds a little depth. Nice!" - Rich Cook
Private Collection Extra Añejo Mexico $189.00 Gold 92 points "This is a whiskey drinker's tequila - I've used this style to inrtoduce people to the tequila category and work them backward to Blanco…" - Rich Cook
Reserve Collection Añejo Mexico $179.00 Gold 91 points "Nice to drink, but the finish is a little short." - Michael Cervin "If rich oak spice is what you're after, this will fit the bill. Nicely done!" - Rich Cook
XO Royal Cognac France $285.00 Platinum 96 points "Bringing sweet wood, floral, spice and fruit together is a soft, viscous package, this is more old school cognac." - Michael Cervin "There's a ton going on here - stonefruit, marzipan and fall spice are powerful and elegant all at once, with no heaviness -" - Rich Cook
VSOP Cognac France $42.00 Platinum 95 points "This is exactly what VSOP should be - a melding of fruit, wood, spice and floral, which this does with great ease." - Michael Cervin
XO Cognac France $200.00 Platinum 94 points "Many XO's tend toward a little fatness in the midpalate - this remain lithe and bright from stat to finish, with everything in its place. Richness without heaviness - I'm a big fan." - Rich Cook
VS Cognac France $30.00 Gold 93 points "Solid balance of the elements." - Michael Cervin
Cylinder Vodka
Ultra Premium Vodka USA $24.99 Gold 90 points "Nice up front flavors, fills the palate nicely." - Michael Cervin
Earl Stevens Selections
Kuiper Belt 6yo Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey USA $94.00 Gold 93 points "Good spice and heat, a bit more aggressive but amature caramel finish." - Michael Cervin
Kuiper Belt Atmospheric Dry Gin USA $40.00 Gold 92 points "This is very citrus forward, with a creamy viscosity and proper heat in the finish. Think sweet side cocktails here…" - Rich Cook
El Cristiano Tequila 1761
XR Extra Reposado Mexico $110.00 Platinum 97 points "Wow! Here's a whole new thing in Reposado - there's a rich cooked agave center that is the core that everything is built around, with a creamy midpalate texture that accentuates herbal character , adds a touch of fruit and then cleans up in the finish, leaving pure agave with just a hint of vanilla. I could sip this endlessly." - Rich Cook
Vodka USA $30.00 Gold 92 points "A silky entry turns bright midpalate, and a cleansing finish keeps flavor coming." - Rich Cook
Familia Camarena
Tequila Reposado Mexico $19.00 Platinum 96 points "Soft caramel notes supports the agave, light pepper and herbal quality." - Michael Cervin "The agave is allowed to shine here - the barrel influence is kept to a pleasant minimum, adding just a hint of vanilla and extending the finish. Spot on!" - Rich Cook
Tequila Anejo Mexico $29.99 Gold 93 points "Nicely made with caramel and rustic notes, very smooth but a slight heat." - Michael Cervin "The oak is forward here, but not to the point that it overwhelms - exactly what this category is meant to deliver" - Rich Cook
Tequila Silver Mexico $17.00 Gold 90 points "Solid tequila with strong agave but a little hot." - Michael Cervin
Garrison Brothers
Honey Dew Bourbon, 2023 Release  USA $89.99 Platinum 94 points "There's real balance here, and a nicely chosen Rye content keeps things spicy, making the rich toffee character sing. Well done!" - Rich Cook
Small Batch Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 2023 Release USA $89.99 Gold 93 points "Bold spice notes sing with this heat level, and the sweet edge is quite seductive. This falls into the dangerously good category." - Rich Cook
Balmorhea Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 2023 Release USA $179.99 Gold 92 points "The back burn is undeniable, but the deeper, richer caramel notes" - Michael Cervin
Guadalupe Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 2023 Release USA $129.99 Gold 91 points "Softer entry, nice wood and fruit notes that aren't overly aggressive." - Michael Cervin
Good Trouble
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Small Batch USA $94.99 Gold 90 points "Fairly one dimensional, certainly enjoyable, but not memorable." - Michael Cervin
High Noon
Grapefruit Vodka & Soda USA $2.50 Gold 90 points "Crisp and clean, nice soft bubbles." - Michael Cervin
Pineapple Vodka & Soda USA $2.50 Gold 90 points "Crisp and clean, gentle bubbles." - Michael Cervin
Highclere Castle
London Dry Gin England $39.99 Platinum 94 points "This is pure London Dry - Juniper forward, balanced and long with complexity of character without so many botanicals that things get muddy" - Rich Cook
Horse Soldier
Premium Straight Bourbon Whiskey USA $49.99 Platinum 95 points "Solid flavors and the wood doesn't dominate, but resonates in the mid palate. The less sweet caramel notes provide more maturity of flavor with this." - Michael Cervin
Signature Bourbon Whiskey USA $69.99 Gold 92 points "Be warned, this spice is all up in your business, and if you like that style, ther spice carries through the whiskey. There's support from the wood and toffee notes, but the spirit gets a little lost." - Michael Cervin
Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, Uncut USA $79.99 Gold 92 points "Hot yes, but the spice and mature sweetness drops this down a little." - Michael Cervin
Lime Ranch Water Mexico $3.25 Gold 90 points "Soft flavors nice bubbles, simple and enjoyable." - Michael Cervin "This is what Ranch water is supposed to be - quaffable and refreshing." - Rich Cook
Grapefruit Ranch Water Mexico $3.25 Gold 90 points "Clean, crisp, enjoyable flavors." - Michael Cervin
Brandy USA $13.00 Gold 92 points "Nice caramel notes give an appropriate aged quality to this brandy. The sweetness is mitigated by the wood." - Michael Cervin "Classically styled and a serious value for its pricepoint. There's good richness here, and you can experiment freely with cocktails thanks to the low price." - Rich Cook
Mayfair London Dry Gin $32.50 Gold 91 points "A flowery juniper and citrus nose leads to a viscous textured palate that carries lively juniper and citrus through a medium long finish. Styled as a light side London Dry." - Rich Cook
Mike Curphy Distillery
MoonShine Sipping Cream Chocolate Espresso USA $22.95 Gold 92 points "An impeccably balanced cream that offers rich texture, chocolate, coffee and well-folded spirit heat - a very pleasant sipper" - Rich Cook
New Amsterdam
No. 525 Vodka USA $15.00 Gold 91 points "Crystal clean aromas lead to a palate with nice pepper spice - keep that in mind when mixing." - Rich Cook
Pure Origin
Pure Origin Tasmanian Gin $39.00 Gold 92 points "Bold with juniper, carried on a rich mouthfeel that brings pleasant bittering in the finish - a solid cocktailer." - Rich Cook
Pure Origin Tasmanian Pink Gin $39.00 Gold 90 points "There's a current craze for pink Gin, and here you get the color without the crazy - it's well balanced, with focused juniper and a dash of pepper. Try it where you might otherwise use Bombay Sapphire for a unique twist." - Rich Cook
RD1 Spirits
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished In French Oak, Small Batch USA $79.99 Gold 93 points "Nicely balanced with heat that is kept in check, mature wood notes, mitigated sweetness." - Michael Cervin "Fine tuned whiskey - a nicely chosen mash bill has all elements evident with no one thing screaming for attention." - Rich Cook
Rey Coyote
Tequila Reposado Mexico $55.95 Gold 91 points "The wood impact this a little more heavily, but still noticable agave notes." - Michael Cervin "On the hot side of the spectrum, but it works well thanks to the oak's vanillin tempering things nicely." - Rich Cook
Tequila Blanco Mexico $50.95 Gold 90 points "Solid agave, pepper and heat notes." - Michael Cervin
Tequila Blanco Mexico $30.95 Platinum 94 points "Quite sophisticated, with clearly delineated agave, and soft pepper spice with a long, elegant finish. " - Rich Cook
Artisanal Liqueur USA $40.00 Platinum 94 points "Nicely done, it does exactly what it should be, enjoyable straifght or for cocktails, the cinnamon is light and refreshing" - Michael Cervin "A unique product, and splendidly so! With all the fall spice, it's easy to limit this in your mind, but it's got much wider application. Great stuff!" - Rich Cook
Uncle Nearest
Master Blend Edition Premium Whiskey - Blend No. 017 USA $149.00 Platinum 95 points "When barrel proof is intentional, it's important to get the mash bill right so that the ABV serves to enhance everything. This is exactly what's going on here. Beautifully realized!" - Rich Cook
Uncut and Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey, Barrel No. 002 USA $149.00 Platinum 94 points "The rye announces itself early, hitting the tongue with agressiveness, but that is soon balanced out the wood, caramel and toffee notes and a long slow finish with a slight burn. It  will clear your sinuses." - Michael Cervin
Straight Rye Whiskey USA $59.99 Gold 93 points "Excellent heat, delivering what you want in a rye, but the level of overt sweetness is a slight drawback." - Michael Cervin "Pure Rye character is on full display here, and warming heat finds a nice balance point." - Rich Cook
1856 Premium Whiskey USA $59.00 Gold 93 points "Nicely balanced with heat that is kept in check, mature wood notes, mitigated sweetness." - Michael Cervin
1884 Small Batch Whiskey USA $49.00 Gold 93 points "A solid whiskey showing a nice rye content to release flavors of allspice - nice wood tones round out the finish." - Rich Cook
Single Barrel Rye Whiskey, Blend No. 001 USA $89.00 Gold 91 points "Excellent spice up front, but the burn and sweet pull this back a bit." - Michael Cervin
Single Barrel Premium Whiskey, Barrel No. 028 USA $79.00 Gold 90 points "Heat and spice but the mid palate gets hits hard." - Michael Cervin
Weldon Mills Distillery
Select Bourbon Whiskey USA $54.95 Platinum 94 points "Everything is in its proper place here - I'm seeing this as a textbook example of what Bourbon should be. Beautiful! " - Rich Cook
Soldier's Cut Bourbon Whiskey USA $44.95 Gold 93 points "Spicier notes from the grain support the wood, more mature caramel notes round out the mid palate and finish." - Michael Cervin
Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, Barrel Proof, Batch No. 35 USA $64.95 Gold 92 points "Well balanced for being so high in proof, thre caramel/toffee notes are not overtly sweet and the spice helps carry this through to the finish." - Michael Cervin
Bourbon Barrel Gin USA $45.00 Gold 91 points "Smooth and sikly but the barrel mutes the gin notes." - Michael Cervin "Pleasant vanilla notes join the juniper without masking things too much - a fine solo sipper." - Rich Cook
The All Malt Bourbon Whiskey USA $109.15 Gold 91 points "Softer entry, nice wood and fruit notes that aren't overly aggressive." - Michael Cervin
Rockfish Whiskey USA $24.95 Gold 90 points "A bit one dimensional, the oak and sweetness is pretty simple." - Michael Cervin
Whiskey Town
Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 3year USA $55.00 Platinum 94 points "Wood and sweet, but rather a one trick pony." - Michael Cervin "I like the edge here - there's warming character, lively spice and great length without sweetness - my kind of sipper!" - Rich Cook

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