By Christopher McCollum
Back towards the end of March, the 10th annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition took place in (of course) San Francisco, California. 30 experts from around the United States judged 1024 spirits from 57 different countries, before casting their votes to find the best in the world. The winner of the Gin category was no real surprise, with Beefeater pulling the Best Gin award, and the winners of Rum and Tequila coming from the right parts of the world, as well as Bourbon and Scotch. However, the biggest surprise of the event was Chase Vodka, out of Herefordshire, England, winning Best Vodka over their more traditional Russian, Swedish, Ukrainian, and Polish counter-parts. The small operation near the border of Wales in western England is owned by William Chase, who had the desire to create a potato vodka using the pre-dominantly agricultural and potato-based industries in Hereforedshire as the backbone of his operation. Growing his own potato crops allows him to cut down on production costs, as about 35 pounds of the spuds go into each 700ml bottle, which sells for £32.95 (about $48 USD).
The bulk of production lately has been pint bottles, with about a thousand of them a week being produced and a good portion of them going to rising markets in the United States. The gourmet brand has an overall production capacity of about 3,000 bottles per week, and according to Chase, will not be expanding their operations and risk lowering the quality of their product.
Right now, the product can mostly be found on the internet.
In other categories, the Best Rum award went to Vizcaya VXOP Solera Rum from the Dominican Republic, which is a dark/gold.
- Best unaged Tequila award went to Trago Silver Tequila.
- Bourbon went to Elijah Craig Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
- Best Canadian Whisky went to Seagrams VO Canadian Whisky.
- Best Irish Whiskey went to Bushmills 1608 Irish Whiskey Limited Edition.
- Best Blended Scotch went to The Grand Bark Equinoxe Blended Scotch.
- Best Single Malt Scotch went to Ardbeg Single Malt Scotch.
- Best Cognac went to Comandon Cognac XO.
The best in show for liqueurs went to Grand Marnier’s 100th Anniversary Liqueur, which sells for $135 a bottle.
If you take a sip of any of these spirits, drop us a line and let us know what you think!
Image by Wonderferret via Flickr.