The Washington Cup is the first competition of its kind – a competition exclusively for American made spirits and liqueurs. We created this competition in 2012 in recognition of the growth and tremendous achievements of the U.S. distilling industry. This amazing evolution has been fueled by the vision and perseverance of many dedicated individuals, and by an innately American sense of optimism. This invitation is being extended only to distilleries and producers of American spirits. While the global marketplace is filled with worthy products from countries everywhere, we believe that this is a unique time in American distilling history. We seek to offer an opportunity for the best of these new distilleries to demonstrate their skills and the excellence of their products on a level playing field. Moreover, we are convinced that the output of these distilleries represents some of the greatest new spirits and distillates in the world, manned by some of the smartest and most motivated distillers anywhere. By creating the Washington Cup, we intend to convince the American public of this fact.
The Washington Cup Spirits Competition is also unique in its methodology: it includes assessment and judging by top spirits professionals, as well as practical testing by great mixologists. There are three distinct phases to the competition; these will take place over the summer beginning July 9, 2014, and culminating in a People's Choice tasting on August 20, 2014.
The first round of the Washington Cup American Spirits Competition is a blind tasting of spirits by category, judged by experienced and top-flight spirits judges including BAR Master Ryan Maybee (Kansas City), Freddie Sarkis (Chicago), Mendel Kohn (San Francisco), Chris Bostick (Houston), Leo DeGroff (New York), Sean Kenyon (Denver) and others. I will act as the Chief Judge for the competition. The first round of the Washington Cup will identify American spirits and liqueurs that we believe to be worthy of the public's attention. These will be guaranteed at least Bronze Medals in the Washington Cup Spirits Competition and will carry through to the Second Round of the tasting.
The Second Round of the Washington Cup is judged by selected bartenders of the Kansas City Chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild. These bartenders have been trained and vetted previously (I will personally attest to their skill and expertise) and each has already gained local acclaim in the Paris of the Plains Bartender's Competition, an eight-year-old competition that involves talented mixologists from around the country, and particularly from the eight state region surrounding Kansas City. These bartenders will receive an unmarked bottle of the spirits that has passed through to this Second Round, and over the course of a specific evening will build cocktails for the public from the spirit. Each bartender will award a score to his or her blind spirit, alongside a group of three professional spirits judges. Again, I will attest to the fairness of this process, and the security of the identity of each blind spirit. The top spirits among these Bartender's Award Winners will pass through to the Third Round of the Washington Cup. We believe these processes allow a thorough testing and analysis of each of the spirits in the competition.
The Third and final Round of the Washington Cup represents yet another unique aspect of the process. The top twelve Bartender's Award winners will be tasted by the general public at the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival Gala on August 20, 2014. The public will be allowed to taste all twelve Bartender's Award winners in cocktail form in a blind setting and will be allowed to vote for their favorites. The top vote getters will be awarded Washington Cups, reflecting that they have been tasted and analyzed not only by professionals but also by an eager crowd of cocktail fans at a Gala event of more than one hundred fifty cocktail enthusiasts.
We think that the Washington Cup's focus upon a democratic approach towards spirits tasting and assessment reflects our nation's founding fathers’ own steadfast belief in a new political system that allowed the people to speak as loudly as the powerful. George Washington, along with his other brothers in freedom, saw the merit of a democracy in which a meritocracy (the Executive brand) shared power alongside the people's direct representatives (Congress), with an impartial and experienced group providing oversight (the Judiciary). With the Washington Cup, we have tried to create a series of tastings that mirror this remarkable system of government.
A spirits competition that tries to emulate the structure of our government? Maybe we are overwrought in this, but is there something wrong in doing things this way? Come along with us and judge us by our results. The Washington Cup seeks to provide an American Revolution in the way spirits are assessed and judged now and into the future.
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