By Amy Zimmerman On October 25, 2022

How to Enter a Spirits Competition and Win a Medal for Your Liquor Brand [UPDATED FOR 2022-2023]

And the winner is … your distillery! Earning recognition from expert judges in the craft distilling industry is not just a dream come true, it’s also a part of a smart beverage marketing strategy. Third-party endorsements, like medals and awards, extend your reach to new customers and give your products more clout in the market. For the price of entry, you gain a medal to hang around your bottle. With a plan to create buzz around that win, your distillery increases confidence among consumers and gains more customers in the process.

Of course, that marketing strategy requires you to win an award first. Luckily, a wide range of competitions and award programs offer distilleries quite a bit of opportunity to achieve this. We counted more than 20 local and international spirits competitions. While entering one competition comes at a small cost, entering all increases the price tag of this marketing tactic. Instead, we recommend focusing on the ones that bring the most value and offer the most opportunity to bring home a medal or trophy.

When considering which competitions to enter, take a close look at how many awards get handed out each year. A number of programs review spirits in multiple categories and reward gold, silver and bronze medals along with other incremental prizes. Those additional categories and prizes boost your odds of gaining that “award-winning” title for your spirits brand.

Additionally, consider entering both established and well-known competitions that come with a lot of influence as well as emerging contests. When your goal is to drape your spirits in medals, the name of the competition doesn’t always matter.

To help you along with your entries, we’ve narrowed down a few of the best opportunities when it comes to spirits competitions. Take a look at our list and get all the details on entries and criteria. But keep your eyes open for other competitions that also make sense for your brand.

Sip Northwest magazine’s Best of the Northwest

Deadline: October 21, 2022

Cost: $70 per submission

Bottles required: 2

This competition is open to spirits produced in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, or British Columbia). Winners will be featured in the November issue of Sip Northwest magazine, which has an estimated 120,000 readers, and will also receive medals of recognition.

Bartender Spirits Awards

Deadline: October 31, 2022 (super early bird deadline)

Cost: $160 per entry

Bottles required: 2

Judged by bartenders, bar managers and buyers from on-premise retailers, this competition takes a unique perspective on spirits awards. Its panel understands consumers who order cocktails at the bar. Double gold, gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to spirits based on judges’ scores not categories.

World Drinks Awards

Deadline: Varied based on the category. The Icons of Whisky deadline is on October 31, 2022.

Cost: $260 to $430 for a single submission

Bottles required: 3

The World Drinks Awards are actually more than two dozen individual competitions separated by category. Each contest sets a different deadline throughout the year. Both tasting and design competitions take place with tiered pricing for each entry. The Icons of Whisky, the next entry date on the calendar, celebrates the people behind the bottles of whisky on the market so it’s a slightly different entry process. Winners earn coverage on the competition’s website and social channels as well as other outlets.

MicroLiquor Spirit Competition

Deadline: November 15, 2022

Cost: $525 per submission

Bottles required: 1

Since 2011, this competition has tasted and scored spirits from over 100 countries. Distilleries that participate have the chance at one of four medals, triple gold, gold, silver and bronze, in a number of categories. A design competition also takes place along with the tasting review.

International Wine & Spirit Competition

Deadline: January 31, 2023

Cost: £159 per submission made online

Bottles required: 2 to 3

This London-based contest promises to provide exposure to gold medal winners by sharing samples with “500 of the UK’s leading importers, retailers, and critics,” as well as to push ongoing global promotions of gold winners, and share medal artwork and retail stickers. Selected winners will be featured in the magazine Club Oenologique.

Los Angeles International Spirits Competition

Deadline: February 24, 2023

Cost: $300 per submission

Bottles required: 3

Judges review all entries over the course of two days in March. After that period completes, All winners of the competition gain a showcase at the LA County Fair. For 15 years, the program has tasted and rewarded outstanding spirits from around the world. Competition winners gain that additional access to consumers in the LA area while also earning that “award-winning” title.

American Distilling Institute’s International Spirits Competition

Deadline: March 3, 2023

Cost: $275 per submission for ADI members, $375 for non-members

Bottles required: two

ADI carefully defines every one of its certified craft spirits categories. All in all, the organization identifies 107 categories of craft spirits, reward medals in each of those classifications. Entries for the contest open up again in March and the judging portion of the event takes places a few months before the ADI Craft Spirit Conference and Vendor Expo in Las Vegas, where winners will be announced. Those who nab awards also earn the benefit of meeting with nationwide retail partners, including Total Wine & More.

Denver International Spirits Competition

Deadline: March 11, 2023

Cost: $400 per submission

Bottles required: 2

All of the professionals who participate in the double-blind tasting that comprises this competition judge entries on a 100-point scale. The competition aims to keep the entry fees affordable while rewarding upwards of 100 categories of spirits. New in 2023, the contest will recognize the brand with the highest combined scores once each entry has been judged.

San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Deadline: March 17, 2023

Cost: $550 per submission for tasting competition

Bottles required: 2 to 3

More than 30 professional spirits experts spend four days blind tasting every entry in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. As part of the process, judges consider every individual entry’s merits without comparing them to the competition. This is how they ultimately decide which spirits will earn platinum, double gold, gold, silver or bronze medals in more than 100 categories.

New York International Spirits Competition

Deadline: April, 2023

Cost: $325 per submission

Bottles required: 2 to 3

Late entries require a $350 fee. The judging panelists include only trade professionals to fully review each entry. Awards are decided by a majority vote among the judges. Winners earn double gold, gold, silver or bronze medals. Additionally, all double gold winners go through an additional tasting to determine best of category titles.

SIP Awards

Deadline: TBD Coming in 2023

Cost: $550 per submission

Bottles required: two to three

An internationally recognized spirits competition, entries face off against some of the most well-known spirits brands from around the world. Judges deliver awards to those spirits that stand out, no matter what the brand name. Winners take home platinum, double gold, gold, silver and bronze, along with other recognitions, like Consumer Choice. Dates for the 2023 competition will be announced in November.

American Craft Spirits Awards

Deadline: October, 2023

Cost: $40 to $100 per submission for ACSA members, $55 to $140 for non-members

Bottles required: 2

While the deadline for 2022 has just passed, this year’s competition will add a whole new slate of judges to the panel. More judges means more opportunities to get your spirits noticed. Winners of this year’s competition will be announced the ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in February. After that, they’ll be featured in the March/April 2023 issue of Craft Spirits Magazine, the publication created by the organization. Entries for the competition should reopen again in October of 2023.

Amy Zimmerman

Amy is an experienced marketer, writer, and editor with a background in the alcohol industry who specializes in small- and medium-sized businesses. Amy’s favorite activities include cycling, hiking, and sampling cocktails.

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