Last Tuesday, as more than a 160,000 conference-goers attended Dreamforce 2015, we were fortunate enough to attend a much smaller but equally prestigious event—the San Francisco Competitions Double Gold Tour, held at DOSA on Fillmore and hosted by the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and San Francisco International Wine Competition.

For those unfamiliar with these competitions, they are regarded as some the most respected ones in the world in their categories. Winning any medal is an honor and achievement that often catapults a product to even greater future success, and the coveted Double Gold is only awarded to the absolute best spirits in each category.

The SF World Spirits competition is judged via blind tasting by an annually-selected panel of industry experts, which includes members of media, spirits buyers, and world-renowned mixologists. This year’s competition broke all previous records, with more than 1,580 individual spirit products entered—and we were lucky enough to try some of the winners, 2015’s best spirits in the world.


 

Double Gold Spirits Tasting

The tasting featured a selection of the Double Gold winners from the 2015 competition, held back in March. We sampled products across many categories including vodka, gin, tequila, pisco, baijiu, bourbon, Scotch, grappa, and even some pre-mixed cocktails. The urge to drink more than a sip of each was, as you can imagine, a bit overwhelming, but we dutifully resisted the temptation as we made our way down the product lineup.

Many of these spirits are not yet available for purchase in California, and as you’ll read below, in some cases not in the United States or anywhere at all. Several brands had their representatives present, who were very generous in sharing their fantastic stories with us.

Tepoz Silver Tequila (Jalisco, Mexico)

Tepoz Silver Tequila

Tepoz Silver Tequila is the first product from newcomer Tepoz Tequila. It’s a premium spirit with a suggested retail price of $55-$60 USD. We found this to be a balanced tequila, fragrant on the nose and smooth on the palate.

Stephen Morocco, the proprietor behind Tepoz, shared some additional facts:

  • The Tepoz name was inspired by the Aztec god of alcohol and merriment, Tepoztecatl
  • Only robust, Blue Weber agave plants used, hand-cut to the core and slow cooked over 28 hours in small batches
  • 100% estate grown (unlike most other tequilas)
  • Triple-distilled to maximize purity and smoothness (most tequilas are double-distilled)
  • Cold-filtered

Morocco entered his tequila in three separate spirits competitions, and won awards in each: Double Gold at the SF Spirits Competition, Silver Medal at the 2015 Denver Spirits Competition, and Silver Medal at the 2015 Los Angeles Spirits Competition. Not bad for a first release!

Although not yet available for purchase, Tepoz is currently in discussions with distributors and we look forward to its availability soon.

Desert Dry Gin (Arizona, USA)

Desert Dry Gin

This was an excellent sipping gin, fragrant on the nose with hints of spice, and robust in flavor. The juniper is present but not overpowering. Slightly overproof at 42.5% alcohol.

Jon Eagan of Arizona Distilling Co. tells us about the inspiration behind Desert Dry Gin: “We were inspired by the five Cs that shaped the 20th century Arizona economy (copper, cotton, cattle, climate & citrus), and set out to create a gin representative of our home state. So we came up with our own five Cs in the form of botanicals: coriander, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, and citrus.”

The end result? A smooth, drinkable gin that is well-balanced and with broad appeal to both gin drinkers and non-gin drinkers alike.

This is not yet available for sale in California, and at the time of the tasting there was not a suggested retail price yet. We will update this when a price does become available.

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Maracame Añejo Tequila (Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico)

Maracame Anejo Tequila

This is a wonderful tequila—complex and full-flavored, yet soft on the tongue and smooth on the finish. The producer, Tequila Supremo, owns its own agave fields, enabling it to oversee the entire production process from A to Z. We got to chat a bit with Maria Soto of Global Beverage Team (managers of the spirits portfolio that includes Maracame) who shared these other facts with us:

  • The agave is cooked in traditional stone ovens for 72 hours, which yields the richest honeys for production (in contrast, many large tequila producers have a cooking period of 12-18 hours)
  • Then it goes through a lengthy fermentation process of up to 8 days, before being double-distilled
  • Maracame is unique in that the “heart” that is cut (the best part of the distillate) is unusually small, ensuring that only the most refined part of the liquid is bottled for consumption
  • Finally, the parts that we love the best, Tequila Supremo makes a point of giving back to the community that helps to market and sell Maracame. They’re also a 100% environmentally-friendly producer, with everything in the growing, fermentation, and distillation processes being either recycled or repurposed materials

And, with a suggested price point of $52 USD, this is a premium tequila that won’t break the bank. Unfortunately for us, it is not yet available for purchase in California.

Nohrlund Strawberry Rhubarb Vodka Cocktail (Denmark)

Nohrlund Strawberry Rhubarb Vodka Cocktail

This was a surprise delight to our day, and the last spirit product we tasted. It is a pre-mixed bottled cocktail (which, admittedly, is something we’ve turned our noses up at in the past), but it was surprisingly nuanced. We tasted three flavors, and all three were delicious.

The Double Gold winner, the Strawberry Rhubarb Vodka Cocktail, was probably the sweetest of the bunch, but nevertheless made for an excellent drink. The other flavors—one with elderflower, ginger, and gin, and another with sea buckthorn, rosehip, and rum—were truly fantastic, and catered to a wide range of palates.

Søren Aamand, the Managing Director and bartender behind Nohrlund, was looking for a way to take some of his popular cocktail recipes from his bar and make them available to consumers around the world, and decided bottling his recipes was a way to accomplish that.

As the other products, this product is not yet available here in California or in the United States at all. With a suggested retail price of $6 USD, it is comparable to wine coolers and other pre-mixed, single-serving libations.

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The Rest of the Lineup

And here are the rest of the spirits we tasted yesterday (in no particular order), as well as all of the Best of and Best in Show winners.

Sin Ultra Premium Vodka
Nevada, USA
40% ABV, ($25)
Best Vodka Woody Creek Colorado 100% Potato Vodka
Washington, USA
40% ABV, ($32)
Best Flavored Vodka Nue Grapefruit Vodka
Texas, USA
35% ABV, ($12)
Ferdinand Sard Gin
Saar, Germany
44% ABV, ($35)
G+ London Dry Gin
Austria
44% ABV, ($36)
Strange Monkey Gin
Virginia, USA
40% ABV, ($29)
Best Gin Master’s Dry Gin
Barcelona, Spain
43.9% ABV, ($29)
Best Flavored Gin Duncan Taylor Indian Summer Gin Saffron Infused
Scotland
46% ABV, ($30)
Best Pisco
Best in Show Unaged White Spirit
Kappa Pisco
Elqui Valley, Chile
42.5% ABV, ($35)
Best Baiju Shui Jing Fang Baiju
Sichuan, China
52% ABV, ($60)
J.P. Trodden Small Batch Bourbon
Washington, USA
45% ABV, ($60)
Best Straight Bourbon Blade & Bow Deluxe Bourbon
Kentucky, USA
46% ABV
Best Bourbon
Best Small Batch Bourbon
Knob Creek Bourbon
Kentucky, USA
50% ABV, ($31)
Best Special Barrel Finished Bourbon Belle Meade Bourbon Sherry Cask Finish
Indiana/Tennessee, USA
45.2% ABV, ($75)
Best Craft Distiller Whiskey Westland Distillery Sherry Wood American Single Malt
Washington, USA
46% ABV, ($70)
Best Tennessee Whiskey George Dickel Superior No. 12 Tennessee Whiskey
Tennessee, USA
45% ABV, ($25)
Best Rye WhistlePig Old World Series Rye Sauternes Finish
Vermont/Indiana, USA
45% ABV, ($118)
Best Canadian Whisky Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel Canadian Whisky
Canada
51.5% ABV, ($40)
Best Other Whiskey Suntory The Yamazaki 18 YO Single Malt Whisky
Japan
43% ABV
Best Flavored Whiskey Southern Shine Apple Pie Moonshine
USA
50% ABV
Best Blended Irish Whiskey Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
Ireland
46% ABV, ($40)
Best Irish Whiskey
Best Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Glendalough 13 YO Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Ireland
46% ABV, ($85)
Best Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey Redbreast 15 YO Irish Whiskey
Ireland
46% ABV, ($90)
Buchanan’s Master Blended Scotch
Scotland
40% ABV, ($36)
Wemyss Malts 12 Year Old The Hive Scotch
Speyside, Scotland
40% ABV, ($74)
Oban Little Bay Single Malt Scotch
Highland, Scotland
43% ABV, ($75)
Best Single Malt Scotch up to 12 Years Talisker 10 YO Single Malt Scotch
Islands, Scotland
45.8% ABV, ($65)
Best Single Malt Scotch 13-19 Years Lagavulin 16 YO Single Malt Scotch
Islay, Scotland
43% ABV, ($88)
Best Blended Scotch up to 15 Years Duncan Taylor Smokin’ Scotch
Scotland
40% ABV, ($30)
Best Blended Scotch 16 Years and Older Alexander Murray Monumental Blended Scotch
Scotland
40% ABV, ($126)
Best Blended Scotch No Age Statement John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2015 Edition Scotch
Scotland
40% ABV, ($815)
Best Single Malt Scotch No Age Statement Talisker Storm Single Malt Scotch
Islands, Scotland
45.8% ABV, ($65)
Best Blended Malt Scotch The Spice Tree Vatted Malt Whisky
Highland, Scotland
46% ABV, ($70)
Revel Chion Grappa Di Moscato
Torino, Italy
42% ABV
Best Grappa Villa de Varda Amarone Grappa Riserva
Italy
40% ABV, ($60)
Best Dark/Gold Rum Bundaberg Small Batch Rum Master Distillers’ Collection
Australia
40% ABV, ($50)
Best Rum
Best Extra-Aged Rum
Best in Show Aged White Spirit
Parce 12 Year Old Rum
Colombia
40% ABV, ($60)
Best Over-Proof Rum Don Q 151 Rum
Puerto Rico
75% ABV, ($25)
Best Cachaça Playboy Silver Cachaça
Rio Grande do Sol, Brazil
40% ABV, ($36)
Best Silver Tequila Tequila 512 Blanco Tequila
Jalisco, Mexico
40% ABV, ($25)
Best Tequila
Best Reposado Tequila
Villa Lobos Reposado Tequila
Jalisco, Mexico
40% ABV, ($47)
Best Añejo Tequila El Tesoro Añejo Tequila
Jalisco, Mexico
40% ABV, ($60)
Best Extra-Añejo Tequila Alquimia Organic Extra-Añejo Tequila
Jalisco, Mexico
40% ABV, ($130)
Best Mezcal Cruz De Fuego Mezcal Joven
Matatlan, Oaxaca, Mexico
40% ABV, ($50)
Best Single Malt Scotch – 20 Years and Older
Best in Show Whisky
Craigellachie 23 YO Single Malt Scotch
Speyside, Scotland
46% ABV
Best Cognac
Best Cognac Extra-Aged
Best in Show Brandy
GAUTIER Tradition Rare Cognac
Charente, France
41.2% ABV
Best Fruit Liqueur
Best in Show Liqueur
CROIZET Liqueur d’Orange au Cognac
France
40% ABV
Best Herbal/Botanical Liqueur Cynar Artichoke Liqueur
Italy
16.5% ABV, ($30)
Best Nut Liqueur Bloomery SweetShine Black Walnut Liqueur
West Virginia, USA
34.2% ABV, ($24)
Best Other Liqueur Tiramisú Liqueur
Italy
24% ABV, ($28)
Best Cognac VS Cognac Meukow Cognac VS
Cognac, France
40% ABV, ($28)
Best Cognac VSOP Camus Cognac Borderies VSOP
Cognac, France
40% ABV, ($46)
Best Cognac XO Claude Chatelier Cognac XO
Cognac, France
40% ABV, ($40)
Best Calvados VSOP Père Magloire Calvados VSOP
Pays d’Auge, France
40% ABV, ($40)
Best Spanish Grape Brandy Torres Jaime I Reserva De La Familia
Region Penedès, Spain
38% ABV, ($130)
The Tasting Panel Magazine Distillery of the Year Kavalan
Taiwan
Importer of the Year Diageo North America
New York
Director’s Award Beam Suntory
Deerfield, Illinois

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