If you know me at all, you know I'm not a fan of awards generally. Too many of them are money-making rackets designed to mislead consumers. For several hundred euros your product can have a important-sounding medal to stick on the bottle.
Leave it to Rio
Think a gold medal means a whiskey was judged against all of its peers and found to be the best? Nope. In a "whiskey Olympics" a gold medal can be awarded to every whiskey in a category. Not that there are many whiskeys in each race, since the category will have been sliced thinly to exclude most competitors in the first place. (Congrats to the Irish Single Malt Cask Strength Single Cask Aged 13-14 Years Whiskey Gold Medal Winner for overcoming stiff opposition!)
Nor is the gold a rank; it's an acknowledgement of quality, apparently. So everyone can have a medal just for participating (i.e. paying). Gold is not even the highest award available. That will be Double Gold, or Master, or Crown of Awesome, or whatever.
Irish Supermarket Blended Whiskey, KBE
Think an "Irish" food and drink awards scheme is necessarily Irish? Of course not! It'll likely be some British PR firm hoovering up easy money from a thousand Irish producers and doling out awards like the Queen dishes out New Year's Honours.
The Irish Irish Whiskey Awards Award
So I'm awarding my own award, for an Irish spirits competition that meets several criteria:
- It's Irish
- It doesn't charge a fee for entry
- It's judged by people who are familiar with Irish whiskey
- Not everybody wins
And the award (the only award) goes to... The Irish Whiskey Awards!
Now in it's fourth year, The Irish Whiskey Awards are organised by Ally Alpine at the Celtic Whiskey Shop. The judging is scrupulously thorough and entirely blind, and involves members of the Celtic Whiskey Club and Irish Whiskey Society, honest folk who train hard throughout the year to keep their Irish whiskey palates honed.
The awards ceremony last year was a huge party for the industry. This year's bash will be held in the old Tullamore Dew distillery building in Tullamore. Tickets are €40. All proceeds go to charity.
If you are in the business and you have a spirit you think the world should know about (it's not just for whiskey, there are categories for vodka, gin, poitín and liqueur too), why not throw it in to the mix? It's the Irish spirits community supporting itself, and a good cause to boot.
Remember, Thursday is the deadline!