With nearly 60 spirits brands entered in the First Annual Santé International Wine & Spirits Competition, a few stars stood out, earning perfect scores and wins in multiple categories. Here is a recap of our most notable spirits winners with some background on each exciting brand. Spirits brands are listed in order of points scored.
SIRE SPIRITS/BRANSON COGNAC
Award-winning musician, entrepreneur, actor and producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson owns this exclusive lifestyle brand aimed at Cognac connoisseurs as well as new drinkers.
Branson Cognac is sourced from the finest producers in the Cognac region in France. Once the best quality grapes are hand-picked, they are pressed and fermented in vats, then distilled on the lees in traditional pot stills. Branson Cognacs are aged in French Oak barrels, sourced from Alliers, Limousin and Tronçais. With a mix of young and old barrels, Branson is able to give each Cognac its ideal golden brown color and allow the liquid to mature and evolve. While the minimum aging required by law for XO cognac is 10 years, Branson’s XO cognacs exceed aging standards. They are aged for a minimum of 10 years, with the majority of cognacs aging closer to 25 years. Product line includes Phantom, Royal, VSOP Grand Champagne and XO Grand Champagne.
Learn more by visiting Branson Cognac.
- Best of Show, XO Grande Champagne; Score: 100
- Double Gold, VSOP Royal Grande Champagne; Score: 97
Tasting Notes: Rich, intense, caramel, red orange, new leather.
ROGUE BARON/SHINJU WHISKY
Rogue Baron develops premium spirits brands in key growth categories. Shinju Japanese Whisky, a blend of 4 whiskies & water from the slopes of Mt. Fuji, is their lead brand. The brand was created to differentiate by price point and taste.
Shinju means pearl. Shinju whisky is aimed at adventurous drinkers with its smooth, sweet taste which makes it well suited for cocktails as well as straight sipping.
Learn more by visiting Rogue Baron.
Best Whiskey, Shinju Whisky; Score 100
Tasting Notes: Very nice sweet oak, lovely finish, subtle spices, perfect balance.
J.J. Lawrence, of Shropshire, Western England, followed his passion for drinking gin to creating one of the best gins in the world. Tiger Gin, with its sweet and smooth qualities, has won awards in five out of the world’s seven continents. Tiger Gin also produces Ruby Tiger Gin and Tiger Vodka.
Learn more by visiting Tiger Gin.
Best Gin, Tiger Gin; Score 98
Tasting Notes: Citrus, spicy, tangy, martini friendly, pomelo.
Royal Mash was created by Rachel de Caen, a trained chef, and Peter Le Fol du Taillis, who both have a passion for fine food and drinks. They also have a royal connection in that the Le Fol family were ennobled by Henry IV in 1594. The Royal Mash logo bears the crest of the Le Fol family.
With the goal of making the best vodka available, Royal Mash started with the finest potatoes grown on the island of Jersey that boast the equivalent of an ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’. Each hand-crafted batch is distilled in 200 liter copper stills and individually taste tested to assure superb quality.
Learn more by visiting Royal Mash.
Best Vodka, Royal Mash Vintage 2020; Score 98
Tasting Notes: Really full, easy sipper, very elegant, whiffs of green tea, fresh spring flowers, pleasing finish.
NV GROUP/SMOKE LAB VODKA
NV Group is one of the largest Grain Spirit Distillers in India and a leading producer of RTD cocktails with over 25 years of experience in manufacturing and bottling premium quality spirits.
Smoke Lab Aniseed, India’s New Age Vodka, is made with high quality basmati rice and pure Himalayan water. It is distilled 5X times using ultra modern charcoal filtration, creating a refreshing mix of fennel and licorice notes.
Learn more by visiting Smoke Lab.
Best of Class, Smoke Lab Aniseed Flavored Vodka; Score 97
Tasting Notes: Very attractive, well balanced, fragrant nose, anise dominant, pleasing to palate, gentle.
C88 HOLDINGS, LLC/RIVULET ARTISAN PECAN LIQUEUR
C88 Holdings is one of the world’s finest premier artisan drinks companies, located on “Whiskey Row” in Louisville, Kentucky. Its focus is producing small batch, artisan created, spirited brands for discerning consumers in the “earth to table” movement.
Rivulet’s vision to create a unique world-class spirit began with their passion for pecans. The result is a luxury liqueur crafted for connoisseurs that has won awards in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Learn more by visiting Rivulet.
Best Liqueur, Rivulet Artisan Pecan Liqueur; Score 97
Tasting Notes: Hazelnut, layers of spice, long sexy finish.
CIERTO SPIRITS INC./CIERTO TEQUILA
Cierto’s Master Distillers, Enrique Fonseca and Sergio Mendoza, are fourth and fifth generation agaveros. Their families have grown agave since the 1800s, bringing generations of knowledge and expertise to every bottle. Cierto is hand crafted in the legendary La Tequileña distillery, located in the heart of the town of Tequila.
Cierto means “true” in Spanish. While many tequila brands use small immature agave, high pressure diffusers and additives, Cierto only uses healthy, fully mature agave that is cooked slowly without any artificial additives. Cierto has won top honors in every single competition it has entered and has already won an unprecedented 428 international medals and awards.
Learn more by visiting Cierto Tequila.
- Best Tequila, Highland Collection Reposado; Score 96
- Tasting Notes: Viscosity, citrus, floral, butterscotch, clean.
- Best of Class, Private Collection Blanco; Score 94
- Tasting Notes: Orchids, white spices, layers, long finish.
- Best of Class, Reserve Collection Anejo; Score 93
- Tasting Notes: Layers, complex spice, white tea, burnt sugar, vanilla.
- Best of Class, Highland Collection, Extra Anejo; Score 93
- Tasting Notes: Sexy feminine style, complex, vanilla mist, white pepper.
- Gold, Reserve Collection Blanco; Score 93
- Tasting Notes: White barrel, precise, exact tequila.
- Gold, Private Collection Extra Anejo; Score 92
- Tasting Notes: Hints of white pepper, citrus, while orchid.
- Gold, Highland Collection Anejo; Score 91
- Tasting Notes: Sweet spice oak, wild flavor, vanilla, sherry.