Hunting for bargains in a gold mine

When you see a single bottle of spirits sporting a Double Gold Medal, that can get your attention.  The Richard Hennessey Cognac received not only a Double Gold Medal, but was honored as the Cognac Best of Class in a major competition.  When you notice the bottle carries a price tag of $3500, your interest likely becomes strictly theoretical.  After all, what are the chances you’re every going to taste the nectar in a $3500 bottle of anything?  And besides, you say, shouldn’t a $3500 bottle come with at least a couple of gold medals in the first place?

Let’s get reasonable here: most of us can’t afford the rarefied prices of those gold-encrusted bottles t
hat win awards.  But savvy bargain hunters can rejoice, for there are indeed spirited bargains out there. This is the category of “affordable luxuries”, after all. 

Sometimes the best place to look for bargains is in the middle of a gold mine.

Take the recently concluded San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where the Richard Hennessey received its accolades; the competition is as reputable and reliable as they come, with a well-selected cast of judges lending their earnest expertise and sensitive palates to selecting some of the best of the spirits world out of over 1200 entries.  Plenty of good spirits there.  Yes, many of them are rare and pricy enough to be out of reach of the average drinker. But not all of them.  Lots of bargains to be found in the middle of this gold mine.

Amidst all the information provided by the SFWSC for each one of these medal winners is that key element, the Suggested Retail Price.  And there’s where the bargains are, at the intersection of awards and low price points, the much-sought QPR---Quality/Price Ratio.

Spend a few minutes filtering out the numerous awards looking for the real bargains, and suddenly you have an impressive shopping list for your next trip to your liquor store!  Let’s look at one category:  Double Gold Medal winning spirits with the S.R.P. of…..say, $25 or less.

Surprise, surprise: not only gold medals but a few ‘best of class’ winners as well!  Here’s the list:
Double Gold Spirits at $25 or Less
Best White Rum, Double Gold Medal,

Kinkylux White Rum, Trinidad & Tobago [37.5%] $18. www.asmliquor.com
Best Gold Rum, Double Gold Medal,

Cockspur Fine Rum, Barbados [40%] $18. Importer: Cockspur USA-Manhasset, NY www.CockspurRum.com
Double Gold Medal,

Kinkynero Dark Rum, Trinidad & Tobago [37%] $18. www.asmliquor.com
Double Gold Medal,

Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands [47.3%] $22. www.diageo.com
Best Vodka, Double Gold Medal,

Platinka Original Vodka, Belarus [40%] $25. Importer: World Elite Spirits, LLC - Atlanta, GA  www.worldelitespirits.com
Double Gold Medal,

American Harvest Organic Vodka, Idaho [40%] $24. www.sidneyfrank.com
Double Gold Medal,

Exclusiv Vodka, Moldova [40%] $10. www.exclusiv-vodka.com
Double Gold Medal,

Mernaya Ancient Kiev Vodka, Ukraine [40%] $5. www.cvc.com.ua
Double Gold Medal,

Naked Jay BIG DILL Flavored Vodka, Kentucky [30%] $9. www.sazerac.com
Double Gold Medal,

Stolichnaya® Razberi™ Vodka, Latvia [35%] $24. Importer: Wm. Grant & Sons - Edison, NJ www.stoli.com
Double Gold Medal,

Stolichnaya® Blueberi™ Vodka, Latvia [35%] $24. Importer: Wm. Grant & Sons - Edison, NJ www.stoli.com
Double Gold Medal,

2 Nite Sicilian Blood Orange Vodka, Sicily, Italy [40%] $22. www.2nitevodka.com
Best Gin, Double Gold Medal,

Tanqueray London Dry Gin, United Kingdom [47.3%] $20. Importer: Diageo North America -Norwalk, CT www.diageo.com
Double Gold Medal,

Citadelle Gin, France [44%] $25. Importer: W.J. Deutsch & Sons - White Plains, NY www.cognacferrand.com
Best Aquavit, Double Gold Medal,

Krogstad Aquavit, Oregon [40%] $25. www.housespirits.com
Best Apéritif, Double Gold Medal,

Aperol Apéritif, Italy [11%] $22. Importer: Palm Bay Int'l - Syosset, NY www.palmbayimports.com
Best Canadian Whisky, Double Gold Medal,

Canadian Mist Canadian Whisky, Black Diamond, Ontario, Canada [43%] $15.  Importer: Brown-Forman - Louisville, KY www.brown-forman.com
Double Gold Medal,

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Kentucky [45%] $25. www.buffalotrace.com
 Double Gold Medal,

Old Forester Signature Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Kentucky [50%] $23. www.brown-forman.com
Double Gold Medal,

Wild Turkey 81 Proof Rye, [40.5%] $23. www.campariamerica.com
Double Gold Medal,

Haig Supreme 1627 Scotch, Scotland [40%] $25. Importer: Diageo North America - Norwalk, CT www.diageo.com
Double Gold Medal,

Speyburn Brandan Orach Single Malt Scotch, Speyside, Scotland [40%] $20. www.speyburn.com
Double Gold Medal,

Cabrito Blanco Tequila, Arandas, Mexico [40%] $18. www.casacentinela.com
Double Gold Medal,

Lunazul Blanco Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico [40%] $20. Importer: Heaven Hill - Bardstown, KY www.heaven-hill.com
Double Gold Medal,

El Jimador Reposado Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico [40%] $20. Importer: Brown-Forman - Louisville, KY www.eljimador.com
Double Gold Medal,

di Amore Quattro Orange Liqueur, Kentucky [40%] $16. www.sazerac.com

Of course, $25 is an arbitrary price point, and there are plenty of spirits on the SFWSC awards list that are only slightly higher in price, so it’s worth your time to look at the entire list.  You don’t want to miss any bargains, right?

Happy Shopping!
By Hoke Harden

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