Diageo Brands Earn 91 Awards at the 15th Annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Diageo Named “Importer of the Year”, Includes 23 Double Gold Honors and Seven “Best in Category” Awards

Diageo spirits liquids and packaging were recognized across the board as best-in-class at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, winning a grand total of 91 awards. Of these awards, 83 were medals, 39 of which were double gold or gold. Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits, beer and wine categories sold in more than 180 countries around the world. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, J&B, Buchanan’s and Windsor whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

In both Scotch and North American Whisk(e)y liquids, Diageo brands did especially well, with 14 brands winning multiple medals, and several being named “Best” in their category. In packaging, seven brands across Diageo’s portfolio won medals, including Mortlach Scotch Whisky and Orphan Barrel Bourbon, which were both awarded double gold. The Company was also named “Importer of the Year” in recognition of Diageo’s consistent high quality of spirits across all brands.

We are honored to be recognized by such a prestigious competition across our portfolio, from heritage brands to new-to-world innovations,” commented Larry Schwartz, President, Diageo North America. “Our craftspeople, including our distillers, blenders and artisans, use their remarkable skills every day to produce the finest spirits in the world. These awards give them, and everyone at Diageo, a great reason to celebrate.”

Commenting on the Company’s honors for high quality packaging design, Schwartz continued, “Although quality liquid is the centerpiece of any distilled spirit, the full experience is not complete without packaging. The bottles we see behind the bar and on store shelves are a critical part of our connection to a brand. I am proud that Diageo packaging designs have received the recognition they deserve.

Whisk(e)y was the standout category for Diageo, in which the Company secured 57 medals in total for high quality liquid. Numerous medals were awarded to Diageo across Scotch, Tennessee, Bourbon and Rye Whisk(e)y. Johnnie Walker won twelve medals for liquid, up three from 2014. George Dickel, Bulleit, Jeremiah Weed, Oban and Orphan Barrel won three medals each, and Buchanan’s won four, including a Double Gold for Buchanan’s Master.

Further, seven Diageo Whisk(e)ys were named best liquid in their respective categories. George Dickel No. 12 was designated the “Best Tennessee Whiskey;” Blade & Bow 22 Year Old Bourbon was deemed “Best Straight Bourbon;” and Crown Royal Single Barrel was named “Best Canadian Whisky.” In Scotch, Lagavulin 16 Year Old earned the title “Best Single Malt Scotch 13-19 years;” John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2015 Edition was awarded “Best Blended Scotch – No Age Statement;Talisker 10 Year Old was named “Best Single Malt Scotch up to 12 Years,” and Talisker Storm was named “Best Single Malt Scotch – No Age Statement.

Within Scotch, Diageo’s non-age declared whiskies fared extremely well this year, winning nine medals for brands including Oban Little Bay, Talisker Storm, Mortlach Rare Old, Buchanan’s Master, Buchanan’s Red Seal, Haig Club and Johnnie Walker Double Black, Gold Label Reserve and Blue Label.

In the Gin, Tequila, Rum and Liqueur categories, Diageo liquids also performed well, with most brands winning multiple medals. In the Gin category, Tanqueray received two medals including a Double Gold for Tanqueray London Dry Gin. In the Tequila category, DeLeon received two medals for the brand’s Reposado and Platinum offerings respectively. In Rum, new Captain Morgan White Grapefruit and Captain Morgan White Pineapple each earned medals. In Liqueurs, Grind won a medal and Baileys won medals for new flavors Chocolate Cherry and Salted Caramel. Overall, liquids from Diageo’s Innovation team won 19 medals.

Overall, liquids from Diageo’s Innovation team won 19 medals. A full breakdown of Diageo’s winning brands at the 2015 San Francisco Spirits Competition is available on the Competition website http://sfspiritscomp.com/results/browse, and all of the double gold and gold medal winners are listed below.

Double Gold:

  • Blade & Bow 22 Year Old Bourbon
  • Buchanan’s Master
  • Clynelish 14 Year Old
  • Cragganmore 12 Year Old
  • Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
  • Crown Royal Single Barrel
  • George Dickel No. 12 Tennessee Whisky
  • George Dickel Rye Whisky
  • Johnnie Walker Double Black
  • John Walker & Sons Private Collection 2015 Edition
  • Lagavulin 12 Year Old
  • Lagavulin 16 Year Old
  • Mortlach 18 Year Old, 25 Year Old, Rare Old, and series (packaging)
  • Orphan Barrel Lost Prophet Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Orphan Barrel (packaging)
  • Oban 18 Year Old
  • Oban Little Bay
  • Talisker 10
  • Talisker Storm
  • Tanqueray London Dry Gin


  • Blade & Bow Bourbon
  • Buchanan’s Deluxe
  • Bulleit Rye
  • Bulleit 10 Year Old Bourbon
  • Caol Ila 12 Year Old
  • Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old
  • George Dickel Barrel Select Tennessee Whiskey
  • Glenkinche 12 Year Old
  • I.W. Harper 15 Year Old Bourbon
  • J&B Blended Scotch
  • John Walker & Sons King George V
  • Mortlach Rare Old
  • Mortlach 18 Year Old
  • Oban 14 Year Old
  • Pie Hole (Packaging)
  • Smirnoff Sours (Packaging)


The San Francisco World Spirits Competition hosted its 15th annual competition March 19-22nd at the elegant Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco. Continuing its tradition of record-breaking entries annually, this year the number of submissions totaled 1580 (up 7% from the year before) from 41 states, 66 countries covering 90 classifications. Many categories of spirits experienced a marked increase this year most notably Gin (nearly triple the entries in 3 years), Bourbon, Rye Whiskey and Single Malt Scotch. The competition has mirrored, and Screen-shot-2015-04-01-at-4.45.39-PMspurred, the spirits industry’s explosive growth over the last 15 years. The inaugural 2000 World Spirits Competition welcomed 12 judges and 292 entries in 59 categories.

Founded in the new millennium year of 2000 by noted wine & spirits critic and competition director Anthony Dias Blue, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition has gained a well-earned reputation as the leading gauge for spirits trends and top quality products in the country. Noted journalists, distillers, beverage directors, mixologists, restaurateurs, Master Sommeliers, hoteliers, consultants, educators comprise the distinguished body of judges; and the continued growth of entries (more than 100 this year) annually points to an undeniable love affair with distillate products in the United States.

Always a harbinger of trends in the marketplace, the competition is considered to be the rite of passage for top quality spirits as it has 41 of the world’s top professional palates serving as judges. Forty-one international judges gathered this year with several notable judges returning to the roster, including noted spirits writer and author David Wondrich, double degree Doug Frost, MS, MW, leading NYC based mixologist Julie Reiner and writer Sean Ludford. Tony Abou-Ganim, aka the Modern Mixologist has directed the judging now for his 6th year and says of the event, “I continue to be flattered and humbled to be a part of a competition with some of the best palates in the world. I look forward to it all year and it is a great way for an established or unknown spirit to gain credibility in this business. The winners feel the impact of the competition’s results in significant ways and use the results to help build both their sales and reputations globally.” (For more information about the judges, please visit http://sfspiritscomp.com/about/judges.)


(A complete list of awards categorically is posted to the San Francisco World Spirits Competition website here: http://sfspiritscomp.com/pdf/S15-BestInShowWinnerList.pdf, http://sfspiritscomp.com/pdf/S15-PkgDesWinnerList.pdf and at http://sfspiritscomp.com/results/browse.)

We have always been a bellwether for trends in spirits consumption and growth. Our caliber of judges, our international reputation and professional organization of the competition helps the marketplace be assured of tremendous quality control and opportunities,” says competition director and spirits guru Anthony Dias Blue. “Over the last 15 years as we’ve witnessed this explosive growth in spirits, we also note that the further sub-categorization of aging and types of spirits is proliferating. We are in an exciting time in the beverage business.”

Top Awards Leading winners from the sweepstakes included Best in Show Un-Aged White Spirit went to Kappa Pisco ($35), Elqui Valley, Chile out of 603 submissions. Best in Show Aged White Spirit was awarded to Parce 12 Year Old Rum ($60) from Columbia out of 169 submissions. Best in Show Whisky went to Craigellachie Single Malt Aged 23 Years ($297) from Speyside, Scotland out of 497 whisky submissions (last year there were 297.) Best in Show Brandy was awarded to Gautier Tradition Rare Cognac ($165) from Charente, France out of 118 brandy submissions and finally Best in Show Liqueur went to Croizet Liqueur d’Orange au Cognac ($179) out of 154 entries. Other highlights included Best Gin, which went to Master’s Dry Gin ($39), Barcelona, Spain out of 134 entries, Best Bourbon which went to Kentucky’s Knob Creek 9 Year Old Small Batch Bourbon ($31) out of 95 Bourbons, Best Tequila went to Villa Lobos Reposado Tequila ($47) from Jalisco, Mexico and Best Vodka went to Colorado’s Woody Creek Single Potato Vodka ($32) out of 168 entries.

Awarded annually, this year’s Tasting Panel Magazine Distillery of the Year went to Kavalan Distillery of Taiwan by winning 4 Double Golds and two Silvers for their Single Malt Whiskies submissions. Importer of the Year went to Diageo North America, and the Director’s Award of Excellence went to Beam Suntory Inc., headquartered in Deerfield, IL for its excellent portfolio of spirits. Additionally, in the Packaging Competition this year there were 22 Double Gold medals awarded, the most ever. There were 143 entries presided over by 3 judges.

The NEAT Glass

The NEAT Glass


In addition to ace palates and exceptional competing spirits, glassware is as paramount to the high performance outcome of competition as the liquid it holds. For the first time in its 15-year run, the competition featured exclusively the NEAT glass. The new industry standard for spirits tasting, with a patented design, NEAT glasses are scientifically engineered with a compressed lip and flared rim to enhance the judging experience. “We have rigorously tested the NEAT Glass in comparative tastings with other spirits glasses,“ says Blue. “It is the only glass that eliminates alcohol burn while enhancing aroma. It showcases all the nuance and complexity that the spirit’s producer intended.”