Press Releases Whiskey

George T. Stagg Bourbon Named Top Spirit in the World for 2nd Year in a Row

I have yet to have the pleasure of tasting George T. Stagg bourbon, but it is almost universally acclaimed as outstanding.

For the second year in row, George T. Stagg, the iconic uncut, unfiltered bourbon released annually from Buffalo Trace Distillery, has been named the number one spirit in the world by noted spirits reviewer F. Paul Pacult.

The list, compiled annually by Pacult, will be released in his June 2012 issue of The Spirit Journal. Last year, George T. Stagg was the first American Whiskey to ever be named number one in The Spirit Journal’s 13 years of tabulating. Stagg knocked off the perennial favorite Highland Park 18 Scotch Whisky for the first time ever, and this year the Stagg beat out a Northern Highlands Single Malt Scotch. 

Notes Pacult about this year’s winners, “Spirits are continually getting better and more sophisticated each year. It’s no surprise to us that three of the top five spirits in the world hail from Kentucky, which right now is one of the hotbeds of distilling prowess.”

The George T. Stagg Bourbon Whiskey is part of the Antique Collection that is released each fall from Buffalo Trace Distillery. Long considered the frontrunner of the Collection, the Stagg has collected numerous awards over the years, including the 2012 Bourbon of the Year; the 2012 Second Finest Whiskey in the World from Jim Murray’s 2012 Whisky Bible; 2012 Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition; 2011 Ultimate Spirits Competition Chairman’s Trophy Winner; 2011 Double Gold Winner, Best Bourbon, San Francisco World Spirits Competition; the 2010 American Whiskey of the Year from Jim Murray’s 2010 Whiskey Bible; 2009 Bourbon of the Year and Best Bourbon Aged 13-17 Years from Jim Murray’s 2009 Whiskey Bible; among others.

The 2012 version of the George T. Stagg will be released later this fall with the Antique Collection.  Suggested retail pricing of the Stagg is $69.99.

George T. Stagg Bourbon

Awards Spirits

Artisan Spirits Award Winners

The American Distilling Institute recently announced the winners of its 6th Annual Judging of Artisan American Spirits.

Those spirits that were named Best of Class were:

Congratulations to all the winners!


Awards Rum

Rum XP Awards – Best in Class

At the Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami last week, 25 judges gathered to taste over 100 different rums. These people are, presumably, some serious rum drinkers, so I was excited to read their results. Medals were given out for Gold, Silver and Bronze — but here is the list of those rums that were named Best in Class.

1 Barrel
Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
Plantation Guatemala Gran Añejo
Plantation Jamaica 2000
Plantation XO 20th Anniversary
Poesia Cachaça
Rhum J.M. White
Santa Teresa Araku
Siesta Key Spiced
Panama Red

Congratulations to all the winners!


Awards Spirits

San Francisco World Spirits Competition results

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the oldest and most prestigious spirits judging event in the United States. Some of the spirits world's best judges came together recently to taste 1215 different spirits from around the world. This is the granddaddy of American spirits competitions, and one of the most highly regarded in the world.

You can see a complete list of the results on their website, including all the spirits that won medals (Gold, Silver and Bronze). Worth paying special attention to are those spirits that won Double Gold, meaning that they were awarded a unanimous Gold medal from all of the judges.

Here is a list of those spirits that were judged Best in Class. I think we can assume that all of these are oustanding (even though I haven't personally tried many of them).

Overall Category Winners:

Best Aged White Spirit: Vizcaya Solera Rum VXOP Cask 21
Best Brandy: Boulard Calvados XO
Best Liqueur: Grand Marnier Quintessence
Best Unaged White Spirit: Avion Silver Tequila
Best Whisky: Isle of Jura Single Malt Scotch 1976

Individual Category Winners:

Best Apéritif: Aperol Apéritif
Best Aged Rum: Vizcaya Solera Rum VXOP Cask 21
Best Añejo Tequila: Don Celso Añejo Tequila
Best Aquavit: Krogstad Aquavit
Best Armagnac: Comte de Lauvia Armagnac VSOP Superior
Best Blended Scotch: Whyte & Mackay 30 Year Old Scotch Supreme
Best Bourbon: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2011
Best Cachaça: Leblon Maison Leblon Cachaça Reserve Especial
Best Calvados: Boulard Calvados XO
Best Canadian Whisky: Canadian Mist Black Diamond Canadian Whisky
Best Cognac: Hennessy Cognac Richard Hennessy
Best Cream Liqueur: Mozart Gold -  Chocolate Cream Liqueur
Best Flavored Vodka: EFFEN Cucumber Vodka
Best Fruit Liqueur: Grand Marnier Quintessence
Best Gin: Tanqueray London Dry Gin
Best Gold Rum: Cockspur Fine Rum
Best Irish Whiskey: Bushmills 21 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Best Mezcal: Real Matlatl Tobala Mezcal
Best Other Whisky: Suntory Yamazaki 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky
Best Pisco: Waqar Pisco
Best Reposado Tequila: Alquimia Organic Reposado Tequila
Best Rum Agricole: Rhum J.M. Rhum Agricole Millésimé 2001
Best Rye: Knob Creek Rye
Best Silver Tequila: Avion Silver Tequila
Best Single Malt Scotch: Isle of Jura Single Malt Scotch 1976
Best Ultra-Aged Añejo Tequila: El Tesoro Extra-Aged Añejo Tequila Paradiso
Best Vodka: Platinka Original Vodka
Best White Rum: Kinkylux White Rum

Congratulations to all the winners!


Awards Spirits

Winners of the 2012 Ultimate Spirits Challenge

UbcA distinguished line-up of experts, including such luminaries such as F. Paul Pacult, David Wondrich, Dale DeGroff and Jim Meehan, came together recently under the auspices of the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in order to judge the finest spirits in the world.

A stunning 650 spirits were entered in more than 30 categories. All of the entrants that scored at least 80 points (on a 100-point scale) — basically those that are recommended — are included in the results.

There were also 31 Chairman's Trophies awarded, representing the "best of the best." I'm listing those below.

Vodka – Unflavored
"Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium

Vodka – Flavored
BAK’s Bison Grass Zubrowka


Bols Barrel Aged

Tequila – 100% Agave
Blanco: Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Silver
Reposado: Ambhar
Anejo: Siete Leguas
Extra Anejo: Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia

Del Maguey Vida Single Village

Appleton Estate Reserve

Rhum Agricole
Rhum J.M. White

INOX Original

Whisk(E)Y – North America
American Whiskey: Balcones “1” Texas Single Malt
Bourbon: Blanton’s Single Barrel
Rye: Masterson’s
Tennessee Whiskey: George Dickel Barrel Select

Whiskey – Ireland
Blended: Midleton Barry Crockett
Irish Pot Still Whiskey: Redbreast Cask Strength 12 Years Old
Single Malt: Bushmills 16 Years Old

Whisky – Scotland
Blended Malt: Johnnie Walker Green Label
Blended: Buchanan’s Special Reserve 18 Years Old
Single Malt: Caol Ila 12 Years Old

Whisky – Canada
Caribou Crossing Single Barrel

Whisky – World
Japan: Yamazaki Single Malt 18 Years Old

Armagnac: Delord 1978
Calvados: Calvados Drouin 25 Years Old
Cognac: Frapin Château Fontpinot XO
Grappa: Jacopo Poli Sarpa Barrique
Pisco: Pisco Porton

Green Chartreuse

Lise Baccara Troussepinete Red

Congratulations to all the winners!

Drink Recipes Rum

Recipe: The Antioxidant Cocktail – Award Winner!

A while back the Portland Craft Cocktails blog and Northwest Food and Wine Festival sponsored a contest for "casual mixologists" to create a new cocktail. I submitted a drink I created recently, with a little inspiration from my sister, Deborah Graff.

I selected ingredients that were rich in antioxidants — that way, you can fight cancer while enjoying a tasty cocktail.

Much to my surprise, I won! Here's the recipe:


The Antioxidant Cocktail

1 1/2 oz White Rum
8-10 Fresh blueberries
1 oz Pomegranate Juice
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice

In a mixing glass, muddle the blueberries with the rum. Next add the remaining ingredients. Shake with ice, then double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


When I started making this back in the summer I used fresh blueberries, but since then I've also made it with the frozen kind and it still came out good. Please note that Maraschino Liqueur is not the red syrup that Maraschino Cherries come bottled in. It's this stuff.