Tasting competitions and awards are a feature of the alcohol industry with medals awarded around the world for each and every category and style.

With so many options it can be quite daunting to know which competitions to enter, who will be judging the products and which other products will your liquid be judged against. Many competitions put categories into price brackets, which means that $20 bottle of wine could be judged in the same category as either a $40 bottle, or $8 bottle depending on how the brackets are established.

The difference between these wines, the occasions you’d by one of those wines for, the flavour profile of those wines and the consumers who buy them are all different, so it can be confusing to have them judged against each other.

This was an issue faced by Adam Levy, the Founder of the International Beverage Competitions, which have now been running in New York for nine years and in Berlin and Melbourne for five years. When he started out, his judges soon told him that the difference in products within a price bracket can be huge, especially at the lower-end of the price spectrum.

So he changed the voting process and now any product entered into a competition such as the Melbourne International Wine Competition, Melbourne International Spirits Competitions or the Melbourne International Beer Competition, will be judged by trade buyers on its exact price.

As Levy explains, this means that there is a competition where the judging mirrors the consumer’s buying style.

“The whole idea is to get in tune with how you buy your liquor. You walk into a bottle shop and you are heading out to meet with a friend. Now this is a good friend and you want to spend say $40 on a bottle of wine and you would walk and ask the person working there, ‘what do you recommend?’ It’s not about what is the best bottle do they have in their store, it’s about what is the best wine for the price.

“You can have the most phenomenal Irish whiskey, but for $200 it’s really got to make your toes curl. At the same time we have also had a $5 Moscato that has won a Double Gold, because at $5 it is of phenomenal value. At $15 then no, but at $5 it’s fantastic and that’s how we judge the products in this competition.”

The other important factor in the International Beverage Competition series is that it is judge solely by trade buyers, people who understand what consumers want, what they are looking for and what they will be happy with at a specific price.

“The so-called experts that can judge some competitions ultimately have no idea what a consumer wants, but that is why we are using trade buyers because they are in tune with consumers,” Levy says.

“I’ll give you an example: there is a style of beer known as Lambic-style beer, now I hate this kind of beer, but a real trade buyer can judge that thinking, this is not something that I would drink, but this is a good Lambic beer at this price.

“The trade buyers can take their personal feelings out of it and know that this is a good Lambic beer for its price.”

The blind tasting at specific price point makes this competition good for both established and new brands, because, as Levy says this is a true blind taste test and everyone ultimately gets the benefit of being in front of a genuine trade buyer.

Levy is now calling on suppliers and producers across Australia to submit their drinks for the second annual Asia International Beverage Competition.

“We will buyers from all over Asia taking part in the tasting, we’ll have Peter Nixon from Dan Murphy’s, the Summergate team; we’ll have wine buyers, mixologists from Mainland China, Hong Kong and the Philippines and other countries, so this really is an Asia competition.”

For any brand looking to break into the Asian market, this competition is the ultimate chance to get in front of a wide range of trade buyers in one hit, in addition, Levy has made it more appealing by offering free shipping from Australia to Hong Kong for any Australian wine or beer.

“My whole goal in life is to remove speed bumps, so you just ship it to our warehouse in Melbourne and we’ll do a consolidate freight shipment from Melbourne to Hong Kong for beer and wine.”

This means that you could not only have the benefit of winning medals from a prestigious, respected and well-established competition series, but you will get your products notice by the trade buyers in key Asian markets.

Entries for the 2018 Asia International Beverages Competition are now open, with the competition itself taking place on August 26 in Hong Kong. So act now, get in front of key trade buyers and enter your products via the links below.

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.