Our Concept

A unique competition designed to recognize both excellence and preference by consumers that enjoy whiskey and the bar & retail experts that sell it.

The judging will be directly overseen and managed by Dave Sweet and Mario Campa.

All samples will be tasted blind with the judging and operations of the day hosted and conducted by the Whiskey and Barrel Nite staff.

To maintain integrity and fairness throughout the judging, Dave and Mario will NOT be participating as judges and will have no part in the scoring, but will contribute to flavor notes and profiles after the judging is finalized.

Each table (5-8 judges) will be headed by an industry professional/retail sales expert. Consumer judges will range from experienced aficionados to new enthusiasts.


Our primary focus is to evaluate and combine value, product quality and flavor preference. We recognize consumers are price sensitive.

To help make these awards meaningful, all products will be categorized and judged in the established price brackets below.

The products are tasted and assessed individually alongside others in the same category. The spirits are presented to judges with only a number identifier in glasses already poured.  All judging will be standard blind tastings with only category and ABV disclosed to the judges.

Our judges will score the spirits on their individual merits as well as preference. This means there may be multiple Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal winners in each category.

In addition to the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, there will be a “Consumer Choice” award, which will express the best and most preferential in each category.



We are excited to see the great response from both invited industry and consumer judges.  Members of the industry ranging from on and off premise retail, brand ambassadors, producers, importers and distributors.  Our pool of consumer judges is incredibly diverse from veteran collectors and enthusiasts to new but passionate whisky drinkers.  All whisky writers and media are invited to participate. Below is some of the judging panel – more being added daily.

Returning Judges

Becky Barnhart, BC Merchants

Marissa Barker, Consumer

Gerard Bonar, Consumer

Kevin Dixler, Consumer

Martin Duffy, Glencairn, U.S. Representative

Adina Ewaldz, Consumer

Monique Huston, VP, Wholesale Spirits Portfolio, Winebow

Jeff Joseph, Editorial Director and Publisher for Luckbox Magazine, Host of the Prediction Trade Podcast

Brian Minevich, Consumer

Richard Pless, Consumer

Bill Slabich, Consumer

Tom Van Vleet, Consumer

A Warm Welcome to our New Judges

Chris Blatner, Founder of Urban Bourbonist, LLC, Executive Director of Bourbon Charity, Executive Bourbon Steward

Crispin Cain, CEO, Director of Production, Tamar Distillery

Maurice Chevalier, Regional Brand Ambassador, International Beverage Group

Jake Hukee, Midwest Brand Ambassador, Starward Whisky

Ari Klafter, Co-owner and Head Distiller of Thornton Distilling, President of Illinois Craft Distillers Association

Steve Malloy, Co-owner of Malloy’s Finest Wine & Spirits

Raj Sabharwal, WSET Level 3, CSSCertified Spirits EducatorCertified Whisky AmbassadorFounding Partner – Glass Revolution Imports

Jeff Yang, Artistic Director, In the Realm of Senses

PRICING BRACKETS – All product categories will be seperated by their relevant price points.

Price Level 1      $50 and under
Price Level 2      $51 – $100
Price Level 3      $101 and over
Price Level 1      $50 and under
Price Level 2      $51 – $100
Price Level 3      $101 and over
Price Level 1      $80 and under
Price Level 2      $81 – $150
Price Level 3      $151 and over
Price Level 1      $70 and under
Price Level 2      $71 – $120
Price Level 3      $121 and over

If MSRP is not entered on entry form, we will use Binny’s Beverage Depot (IL) standard pricing for 750ml bottle or equivalent to scale. If product is not available in IL, we will use pricing where available. We reserve the right to verify pricing. Pricing levels may be subject to change per current market.

We are aware and understand that some consumers make purchasing decisions based on age statements. In the interest of promoting a true Consumer Choice, our research has shown price is a bigger factor than age. All judging will be irrelevant of age statement.

Product Categories

North American Whisky

110 American Single Malt Whiskey
111 American Whiskey
112 American Whiskey – Single Barrel/Special Release
113 Bourbon Whiskey – Batched/Small Batch
114 Bourbon Whiskey- Single Barrel/Special Release
115 Tennessee Whiskey
116 Finished American Whiskey – Bourbon
117 Finished American Whiskey – Non Bourbon
118 Rye Whiskey – American
119 Rye Whiskey – Canadian
120 Rye Whiskey – Single Barrel/Special Release
121 Canadian Whisky
122 Flavored Whiskey
123 Independent Bottler North American Whiskey


150 English and European Whisky – not Scotch or Irish
151 Japanese Whisky
152 Taiwanese Whisky
153 Indian Whisky
154 Australian Whisky
155 Other International Whiskies
156 International Whisky – Single Barrel/Special Release


130 Blended Scotch
131 Single Malt Peated
132 Single Malt Unpeated
133 Independent Bottler Scotch Whisky
134 Scotch Single Barrel/Special Release



140 Irish Blended Whiskey
141 Irish Single Malt
142 Irish Pot Still
143 Independent Bottler Irish Whiskey
144 Irish Whiskey – Single Barrel/Special Release



160 English and European Whisky – not Scotch or Irish
161 Japanese Whisky
162 Taiwanese Whisky
163 Indian Whisky
164 Australian Whisky
165 Other International Whiskies
170 Independent Bottler International Whisky – Single Malt or Blend