The New Orleans Spirits Competition “Spirits of the Year” Winners Announced

Posted on: Aug. 02, 2023 | | By: Callie Carlson

 The New Orleans Spirits Competition (NOSC) presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is pleased to announce the “Spirits of the Year” winners from its second annual competition. The competition also announced their Distillery of the Year today during Meet the Distillers tasting during Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.

Founded in 2022, The New Orleans Spirits Competition (NOSC) is an international spirits competition celebrating and recognizing fine spirits being produced around the world today. Held during Tales of the Cocktail, the second year of the competition introduced a live judging across all classes of spirits, domestic and international — whiskey, gin, brandy, baijiu, vodka, rum, agave spirits, liqueurs and non-alcoholic – as well as a new category of ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails. More than 440 entrants sent samples for evaluation. This year, NOSC is proud to partner with Imbibe Magazine as the competition’s official 2023 Media Partner. 

In celebrating the Distillery of the Year and Spirits of the Year, NOSC is pleased to announce the below winners in each class:

2023 NOSC Distillery of the Year

  • Distillery of the Year: Kings County Distillery 

2023 NOSC Spirits of the Year Winners

  • Agave Spirits of the Year: Mezcal Vago Ensamble en Barro by Samson & Surrey 
  • Brandy of the Year: Ferrand S.D.A Sélection des Anges by Maison Ferrand
  • Gin of the Year: Highclere Castle Gin by Highclere Castle Spirits 
  • Liqueur of the Year: Maggie’s Farm Falernum by Allegheny Distilling 
  • No/Low Elixir of the Year: Novara Aperitivo by Bark & Bitter
  • Ready-to-Drink Cocktail of the Year: After Hours Espresso Martini by Thomas Ashbourne Craft Spirits
  • Rum & Cane Spirit of the Year: The Lost Cask Collection Barbados 17 Year by Rolling Fork Spirits 
  • Specialty Spirit of the Year: iichiko Shochu Saiten by Sanwa Shurui
  • Vodka of the Year: Teller Genuine Vodka by Safe House Distilling Co.
  • Whisky of the Year: Texas 1 Single Malt by Balcones Distilling

Also below is the list of the “Best of Category” winners. These recognize the top spirit entered in each category, such as Best New American Gin, Best American Single Malt, and Best Overproof Rum. Many of these spirits, plus other top medalists, were among the finalists in determining the “Best of Class” awards.   

2023 NOSC “Best of Category” Winners

Winners for the “Best of Category” can be viewed on

2023 NOSC Packaging Award Winners

Packaging Excellence Awards for the New Orleans Spirits Competition can be viewed on

2023 NOSC Final Medalists

Medalists for the New Orleans Spirits Competition can be viewed on

About The Judging Process

Judges were seated in four-person panels and served flights of spirits without identifying information other than the class of spirit and proof. Spirits were then rated individually by each judge, with a top score of 100. Scores from each panel were then averaged, and judges conferred. Spirits earning an average of 90 to 94 were awarded a gold medal; those that rated 95 or above earned double gold. After the medals were decided, the top finishers across each class were ranked relative to one another, with judges marking their top three in order. These votes determine the best-of-class awards listed above. 

The winners were selected following a first-of-its-kind public judging on Monday, July, 24 in New Orleans at Tales of the Cocktail. Finalists were determined by a preliminary judging round held in June, which advanced to the public blind tasting. The judges determined winners of Spirits of the Year for four classes of distilled spirits.

New Orleans Spirits Competition Judges 2023

  • Alan Ruesga Pelayo,  North America Tequila Cazadores Ambassador
  • Anu Apte, Owner of Rob Roy, Co-Owner of Trade Winds Tavern, Navy Strength, and Vinnie’s Wine Shop
  • Abigail Gullo, Creative Director of Loa, Host of Drink & Learn Podcast 
  • Alex Day, Partner of Death & Co., Co-Author of Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails and Cocktail Codex: Origins, Fundamentals, Formulas
  • Chris Montana, Founder & Owner of Du Nord Social Spirits
  • Dale Degroff, DeGroff’s Spirits, Partner & Owner of DeGroff’s Amaro, DeGroff’s Bitter Aperitivo
  • Dan Farber, Founder & Distiller, Osocalis Distillery  
  • Emma Janzen , Spirits & Cocktail Writer; Midwest Academy Chair World’s 50 Best Bars, Author of Mezcal: The History, Craft and Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit 
  • Ian Burrell, The Global Rum Ambassador
  • Jeff Berry, Tiki & Rum Expert; Author of Potions of the Carribbean & Beachbum Barry’s Taboo Table
  • Julio Cabrera, Owner, Café La Trova
  • Michael Vachon, Co-Founder of Maverick Drinks
  • Monique Huston, Vice President Spirits Portfolio at Winebow
  • Neal Bodenheimer, Founder and Owner of CureCo.; Co-Chair of Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s Board of Directors
  • Nicole Austin, General Manager & Distiller, Cascade Hollow Distilling Co.
  • Zan Kong, Commercial Manager, Spirits for Worthy Park Estate

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