You Be the Judge at the New Orleans Spirits Competition

Posted on: Jun. 03, 2024 | | By: Wayne Curtis

The 2024 New Orleans Spirits Competition stages its championship round live during Tales of the Cocktail. The six finalists in each category from the preliminary round of spirits judging, which takes place in June, advance to the final round.

How does it work? In six spirits classes — agave, liqueur, gin, rum, world whiskey and American whiskey — finalists will be served without identification to four preeminent spirits judges. The judges will sip, sample and evaluate each spirit in front of an audience, ultimately casting votes for those they find of superior quality.

Once the tasting and evaluation conclude, scores are tabulated, the bottles are revealed, and each ”spirit of the year” is announced.

Photo by Cory Fontenot

The audience does more than just watch. Each attendee also has the same six samples in front of them, so everyone can taste along and compare their tasting notes to those of the judges. Judges this year include Dale DeGroff, Jeff Berry, Tiffanie Barriere, Emma Janzen, Lisa Wicker, Lauren Mote, and Sother Teague.

The idea is to not only boost transparency and inspire confidence in what can be an opaque judging process in other competitions, but elevate understanding of fine spirits, and to expose the audience to aspects of spirits evaluation that they may not have considered. The 2023 championship round was held in room that could accommodate 25 attendees; this year, the room size will double.

Following the competition, finalists and other top-scoring brands will be served at the “World’s Best Spirits” tasting, allowing all those attending Tales of the Cocktail to sample some of the best of the modern spirits industry, ranging from upstart craft producers to long-established legacy producers.

The championship rounds will take place at the Ritz Carlton at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. on both Monday and Tuesday, July 22 and 23. Seating is available first-come, first-served to Tales attendees who have tasting room access.  The World’s Best Spirits tasting take place on Thursday, July 25, from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Buy your Tasting Room tickets here, and we’ll see you in New Orleans!

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