New York International Spirits Competition Reveals 2020 Winners

Not even a pandemic could keep the 11th Annual New York International Spirits Competition from judging and selecting the finest spirits in the world. Though the Covid-19 crisis certainly did not make it easy.

The yearly event — in which trade professionals blind taste products based on price tiers — took place in early August. Rather than gather judges in one location as usual, the 2020 NYISC took the competition to them in virtual form. Boxes containing 85-100 2-oz. samples were hand-delivered to judges throughout New York, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

“I felt that our industry still wanted to function as much as possible during this pandemic,” says NYISC founder Adam Levy, who also runs “The producers wanted to participate and the trade buyer judges were eager to taste, and we just had to find the way to make this happen — and we did it virtually.”  

“We were not going to let Covid defeat us,” Levy adds. “Logistically, it was a challenge, and a need for more resources this year. Though I was still excited to run the competition, the trade buyer judges were definitely eager to still take part and try new spirits and reconnect with what they still loved.”

Boxes containing 85-100 2-oz. samples were hand-delivered to judges throughout New York, Brooklyn and New Jersey. | Photo by Kiwi Callahan of workwithdelphi.comThis competition differentiates through price-based blind tasting. Judges assess unlabeled samples a handful at a time, samples that all cost about the same amount. Because judges are industry professionals — retailers, on-premise owners, mixologists, beverage directors, distributors, importers, etcetera — they grade spirits based on whether these products provide quality for the cost. Thus, this competition reflects the needs of the trade.

About 1,200 entries in 2020 represented more than 30 countries and 60 spirits categories.

“The year we had a great representation of spirits from the big companies as well as the small craft producers here in the USA and around the world,” says Levy. “Producers definitely see the value of being in front of a only trade buyer judging panel who are judging the spirits as if buying it for their business by its category and price.”

About 1,200 entries represented more than 30 countries and 60 spirits categories. | Photo by Kiwi Callahan of workwithdelphi.comThe competition is also stingier with gold and double-gold awards. Spirits graded as double gold in 2020 include:


CaliFino Tequila AnejoCierto Tequila Reserve Collection – Extra AnejoCutwater Spirits Tequila BlancoTequila Bribbon ReposadoVamanos Riendo Mezcal


Alexander Grappa Grappolo


Distillerie Fils du Roy #StJeanPlus Oultre distillery Gin de BincheRestless Spirits Distilling Company Builders Botanical GinWilliam Wolf Zuidam Old Genever 3 Barrel Rested

Liqueurs and Others

Casa Cinzano 1757 Vermouth di Torino G.I ROSSOOle Smoky Moonshine Mountain Java Cream LiqueurVincenzi Bellini Peach

Mixers: Carbonated

Cutwater Spirits Ginger BeerFever-Tree  Ginger Beer


Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year OldCutwater Spirits Cask Strength RumPinkertons Coconut RumTanduay Double Rum


Belvedere PurePinkertons VodkaSmirnoff Infusions Cucumber LimeThe Tides VodkaZyr Vodka 


10th Street American Whisky STR Single MaltAlbertsons WhiskeyArdbeg UigedallBarrell Craft Spirits Barrell DovetailBulleit RyeCompass Box Whisky The Story of the SpaniardCutty Sark OriginalDewars 25 Year OldEastern Kille Distillery Michigan Straight Rye WhiskeyEgans Irish Whiskey FortitudeElijah Craig BourbonGlenmorangie SignetJim Beam Bourbon Whiskey Single BarrelLocal Choice Boones BourbonRedemption Barrel Proof BourbonRedemption High Rye BourbonRittenhouse RyeUncle Nearest Premium Whiskey 1820 Single Barrel WhiskeyWild Turkey Russells Reserve 10 Year Bourbon

The full list of 2020 NYISC winners is available here.

Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece Tequila Sales Are Rising in 2020. Why?
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Author: Kyle Swartz