The champion spirits of this year’s Royal Australian Spirit Awards (RASA) have been revealed, with the number of exhibitors involved increasing in the fourth year of the awards.

RASA is aligned with the Royal Adelaide Wine Show, which celebrates the tradition of judging spirits at the show. Chief Judge Tim Gniel said that gin remains the major category at the awards, but that it was good to see other categories increasing.

“Gin continues to be the major category with 53 per cent of entries as we would expect, with all other categories apart from Whisky holding steady or slowly growing,” he said.

“It was particularly pleasing to see the growth in Rum and the ‘other’ category with spirit styles as diverse as Pisco and Rakija being represented and also being awarded strong medals. This is a great reflection of where the industry is at the moment and highlights the creativity and individuality of our producers.”

Gniel added: “While entries in the Whisky category were down the quality was excellent and continues to improve with a high percentage of Gold Medals awarded. It was great to see a Rum trophy presented this year with an interesting and well-made spirit, as always with this Show there were some outstanding Brandies.

“Gin continues to drive the industry and we had good representation across the classes with strong gold medals being awarded. The best examples had punchy fresh Juniper and were full of character. There were a couple of issues across the classes though with some base spirit issues and exhibits that just needed more intensity of flavour and care in production.

“The ‘New Make’ and ‘Other’ Class spirits were interesting and exciting with Gold medals in both, hopefully this is a sign of things to come in the future and consumers should look for these producers.”

This year’s Champion Spirit of Show was St Agnes XO from the St Agnes Distillery, and Richard Angove from the St Agnes Distillery, says the company is excited to continue to raise and reposition Australian brandy not only in the Australian market, but the spirit market globally.

“We were so excited to achieve these prestigious awards. We are extremely lucky to have such amazing, aged XO resources to put these blends together and all credit to our master distiller Ben Horley and his predecessor, the late John Norman, and our entire distillery team for their care and attention in crafting such age worthy, unique spirit” Angove said.

Other champion award winners include:

  • Webb Spirit Co, Original Australian Dry Gin – Champion Small Batch
  • Tin Shed Distilling, Iniquity Single Malt Whisky Silver Label, Batch 23 – Champion Whisky
  • Mad Monkey Distillery, Pure Single Rum, Ex-Tawny Cask – Champion Rum
  • Prohibition Liquor Co, Juniperus Gin – Champion Gin
  • St Agnes Distillery, St Agnes XO – Champion Brandy
  • White Light Beverages, White Light Vodka Original, Champion Vodka
  • Tiny Friday Social, Tiny Friday Pisco – Champion Other Spirit

Gniel said: “I would like to thank the judges for their time and commitment to the event. We have had a strong group of core judges while the Show has been running and we introduced two new associates to that group this year. I hope we can continue to introduce new judges to the system as we progress. The judges and stewards volunteer their time and we appreciate the commitment.

“I would like to thank the exhibitors for entering as there would not be a show without them and I hope they get some benefit from the benchmarking process.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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