The Challenge includes entries from 45 countries and 96 brands. Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, which starts with Pennsylvania grown potatoes stood out among brandy, gin, whisk(e)y and other spirits to finish in the top five overall. It was also one of four vodkas in the top 100 and 20 places above the next closest vodka.
Boyd & Blair’s Potato Vodka is described by the judges as having:
Fresh aromas of minerals and cotton are soft and elegant. The round and plush texture fill the mouth with a subtle earthy sweetness as hints of lime zest shine through. Ultimately refined, it is a delight to sip on straight or mixed into any cocktail.
On Monday night, The American Craft Spirits Association virtually hosted their annual awards banquet. 152 distillers across the United States, as well as the Caribbean and Central America, submitted entries to be judged. Pennsylvania historically does very well and is the case again this evening as Pittsburgh’s Wigle Whiskey took home a boatload of awards (20 in total) including the Best in Specialty Spirits award for their Saffron Amaro.
Pennsylvania did well as a state again, by our count, ten distilleries combined to win 40 awards.
With the Conavid-19 pandemic changing our ways of life, the American Craft Spirits Association postponed its 2020 conference that was supposed to be happening now in Portland, Oregon. But they have decided that the awards show must go on. The American Craft Spirits Association is the only national organization of craft distillers governed by craft distillers and winning an award at its annual event is a big deal for distillers, equivalent to a brewer bringing home an award from the Great American Beer Fest held annually in Denver.
LaBan notes that age is helping both distilleries out, noting Dad’s Hat has recently bumped its Straight Rye from three to four years of age. He also notes that in Manatawny’s case, “[t]ime in a barrel is paying off for this rising distillery from Pottstown. “
Whenever I have posted positive things about Dad’s Hat, it’s often met with a groundswell of “this is crap” comments. And hey, we’re all entitled to our own opinions (for God’s sake, I blab for a living), but I often think people misunderstand this rye and its style. You can genuinely taste rye bread, and that appeals to me. I also love seeing Pennsylvania return to the whiskey game.