Podium Dreams

What does winning a medal in the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition do for your distillery? Here are some lessons from recent winners to inspire your entries this year.

When you’re a start-up distillery toiling over your first batches, the thought of winning a national competition and running out of product might seem like a distant dream. But it’s one that can come true.

Monashee Spirits Ethos Gin – 2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year

Monashee Spirits Ethos Gin – 2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year

The distiller of Ethos Gin (2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year,) Josh McLafferty of Monashee Spirits in Revelstoke, B.C., is a believer. “The award has brought in a lot of recognition from across the country and the U.S.. We have seen a huge increase in our sales of Ethos Gin and our other products ... it has been a struggle keeping up with all the demand.” Not only retail sales, but bars and restaurants creating Ethos-based cocktails, have added accounts and exposure to the brand.

McLafferty recalls spending a year and a half, and creating more than 30 test batches of gin, before arriving at his ideal triticale-based botanical spirit. “At the end of the day, we are just a little distillery and cocktail bar trying to do really cool stuff,” he says—winning a big award was never his goal. “My mantra about awards is: If I don’t win anything, we’ll keep doing what we love. If I win every award, we just keep doing what we love to do,” says McLafferty. “It about the passion, not the awards. But they do help!”

Capital K Distiller Tall Grass Dill Pickle Vodka – 2019 Best in Class, Infused Vodka

Capital K Distiller Tall Grass Dill Pickle Vodka – 2019 Best in Class, Infused Vodka

Capital K Distillery in Winnipeg, the first in the province of Manitoba, has found that “winning [CASC] awards has really given us credibility,” says Lindsay Gillanders, who handles marketing and communications for the distillery and calls the awards “a really big deal for us.” Medal-winning Tall Grass Gin and Tall Grass Dill Pickle Vodka are “now far and away our best-selling products,” she says. The marketing message comes naturally: “Have you tried Winnipeg’s first craft gin? It's won big at a national spirits competition!”

She says the so-called earned media exposure (free coverage they received as a result of the win) has increased brand recognition and local market share. “We have a really small marketing budget and the opportunity to get on TV and in print, chatting about the products, has been great,” says Gillanders, who notes a social-media bump whenever they mention the medalling spirits. “Engagement goes through the roof and we get people tagging each other to try the local award-winning product.” 

Enter the 2020 CASC here.

Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition: New Categories

We listened to your feedback, and important changes are coming to CASC this year, including new category divisions for:

  • Terroir Spirit: an exciting new award for spirits with a highly expressive sense of place

  • Gin: now Classic and Contemporary (with a sub-category for Flavoured)

  • Vodka: now Classic and Contemporary

  • Liqueur: separated into Fruit Liqueur and Liqueur

  • Whisky: new Single Malt and Single Grain options

  • Bitters: small-batch Canadian bitters will have their own judges and rules

  • Branding: similarly, a separate panel of pro judges will evaluation artisan spirits’ packaging and design

New Categories: Details

When registration opens August 8, here are the new category options that will be available:

Terroir is here!

  • We are introducing a new “super-category” called Terroir Spirit. Medals will go to spirits that are not only artisanally made but highly expressive of sense of place, through the provenance of their ingredients and their taste and flavour profiles. You can enter any spirits in any category in the Terroir Spirit category as well (each category will have its own potential Terroir award).

Gin is now:

  • Classic Gin: these adhere to a traditional taste profile, and are more closely aligned in flavour, aroma and style with big-brand commercial gins.

  • Contemporary Gin: these gins fall further into the “craft” or “artisan” category, and may display some more unusual flavour and aroma characteristics.

  • This is now a Flavoured Gin sub-category under Contemporary Gin, to allow you to highlight gins that have non-traditional fruits or botanicals (e.g. rhubarb, berry) or follow other global traditions (e.g. Japanese).

Liqueur is now:

  • A second, specific Fruit Liqueur category.

  • There remains a broad Liqueur category for all other flavours/styles.

 Vodka is now:

  • Classic Vodka: these are more traditional, commercial styles of vodka.

  • Contemporary Vodka: these intentionally have lots of character, and perhaps retain a greater sense of the raw materials.

Whisky is now:

  • Single Malt Whisky: these are 100% malted barley whisky from one distillery

  • Single Grain Whisky: these are all other grain whiskies (rye, unmalted barley, wheat, corn or other grains, and any mix of those grains) from a single distiller.

You’ve got a beautiful bottle … let’s celebrate it!

We are introducing a branding competition this year—look for details next week. This will be your chance to show Canada that your distillery is just as creative on the outside of the bottle as it is on the inside.

Bitters Need Some Love

Finally, we’re excited this year to be opening up the competition to Canadian-made artisan bitters. Our goal is to bring some attention to the amazing bitters made by distilleries and other small producers across the country. Bitters are an important part of the artisan spirits culture we’re building, and we want to get them some love. A separate judging process will be developed and announced soon.

Early Bird Registration For All Categories Opens Thursday, August 8.

Distillateurs artisanaux Canada est fiers d'annoncer les résultats du Concours de spiritueux artisanaux canadiens de 2019

VANCOUVER, le 5 févr. 2019 /CNW/ - Le seul concours national de spiritueux réservé exclusivement aux micro-distilleries fait part aujourd'hui de ses résultats.

Le groupe national de juges indépendants a complété son évaluation à l'aveugle des spiritueux artisanaux soumis par des distillateurs de tout le Canada. Au cours de cette deuxième année, le nombre de soumissions s'est accru de 50% relativement à la première année.

Alex Hamer, fondateur du CSAC, a dit que; «Cette croissance démontre qu'un tel concours est bien accueilli des distillateurs artisanaux pour les aider à mieux faire connaître les excellents spiritueux qu'ils produisent» et «Il me fait plaisir de constater qu'il y a eu des soumissions gagnantes de partout au pays».


DAC est fiers d'annoncer que le «Ethos Gin» de Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery a récolté un plus grand nombre de points que tous les autres spiritueux en compétition. Ce spiritueux est produit à Revelstoke, BC à partir de triticale et utilise 15 végétaux y compris certains d'origine locale tel que myrtilles, genièvre, pointes d'épinettes et aiguilles de pins ponderosa. Charlene Rooke, juge principale du CSAC, a décrit ce gin comme ayant «Un nez délicatement floral (fleurs blanches, pétales de rose, fleurs d'oranger et soupçon de fleur de sureau), teinté légèrement de pamplemousse rose, citrin juteux, poivre blanc donnant une élégante et soyeuse sensation en bouche.».


  • Absinthe: Deep Roots Distillery Absinthe • PE

  • Gin vieilli: Iron Works Distillery Aged Gin • NS

  • Alcool vieilli en fût: The Liberty Distillery Railspur No.3 Switch • BC

  • Aquavit: Long Table Distillery Làngbord Akvavit • BC

  • Amaro or Vermouth: The Woods Spirit Co Pacific Northwest Amaro • BC

  • Brandy: Winegarden Estate Winery & Distillery Johnny Ziegler Senior • NB

  • Liqueur: Hansen Distillery Morning Glory Cream Liquor • AB

  • Vodka aromatisée: Capital K Distillery Tall Grass Dill Pickle Vodka • MB

  • Rhum: Barrelling Tide Distillery 5 Fathom Dark Rum • NS

  • Vodka: Strathcona Spirits Distillery Single Grain Vodka • AB

  • Whisky: Sheringham Distillery Red Fife Whisky • BC

  • Jeune Whisky: de Vine Spirits Glen Saanich • BC

  • Alcool non-vieilli en fût: Resurrection Spirits Inc. Resurrection Spirits White Rye • BC

Des médailles furent décernées à des distillateurs de Colombie Britannique, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, Nouveau Brunswick, Nouvelle-Écosse et Ile-du-Prince -Édouard. Pour les résultats complets : https://artisandistillers.ca/2019-results/


CSAC fut créé en 2017 pour célébrer l'excellence de la distillation artisanale canadienne. Les distillateurs doivent rencontrer nos critères d'inclusion: 

Distillateurs artisanaux Canada (DAC) qui gère le CSAC est un nouvel organisme créé pour soutenir et promouvoir les distillateurs artisanaux à travers le Canada. Pour de plus amples renseignement, consultez:

DAC aimerait remercier la Great Little Box Company de son généreux soutien.

SOURCE Distillateurs artisanaux Canada

For further information: Laura Serena, Serena PR, 604.842.4510, laura@serenapr.com

[Release] Artisan Distillers Canada is proud to announce the 2019 results for the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition

VANCOUVER, Feb. 5, 2019 /CNW/ - Canada's only national spirit competition reserved exclusively for small distilleries announces its results today.

The competition's national panel of independent judges have completed their blind assessment of artisan spirits submitted by distillers across the country. Now in its second year, submissions have grown by 50% over its first year.

"This growth demonstrates that a competition like this is welcome among artisan distillers to help them spread the word about the great sprits they're producing," stated Alex Hamer, CASC's founder. "I'm gratified to see awarding-winning submissions from across the country."


Monashee Spirits Craft Distillery Ethos Gin earned highest overall points across all categories. The gin is made in Revelstoke, BC from Triticale, and uses 15 botanicals including locally sourced huckleberries, juniper, spruce tips and ponderosa pine needles. Charlene Rooke, CASC's lead judge, described the gin as having a "Delicately floral (white blossoms, rose petal, orange blossom, note of elderflower) nose, tinged with light pink grapefruit. Juicy citrus, white pepper and a silky elegant mouthfeel."


  • Absinthe: Deep Roots Distillery Absinthe • PE

  • Aged Gin: Ironworks Distillery Aged Gin • NS

  • Aged Spirit: The Liberty Distillery Railspur No. 3 Switch • BC

  • Akvavit: Long Table Distillery Långbord Akvavit • BC

  • Amaro or Vermouth: The Woods Spirit Co Pacific Northwest Amaro • BC

  • Brandy or Eau de Vie: Winegarden Estate Winery & Distillery Johnny Ziegler Senior • NB

  • Liqueur: Hansen Distillery Morning Glory Cream Liquor • AB

  • Infused Vodka: Capital K Distillery Tall Grass Dill Pickle Vodka • MB

  • Rum: Barrelling Tide Distillery 5 Fathom Dark Rum • NS

  • Vodka: Strathcona Spirits Distillery Single Grain Vodka • AB

  • Whisky: Sheringham Distillery Red Fife Whisky • BC

  • Young Whisky: de Vine Spirits Glen Saanich • BC

  • White Spirit: Resurrection Spirits Inc. Resurrection Spirits White Rye • BC

Medals were awarded to distilleries from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Complete results: https://artisandistillers.ca/2019-results/


CASC was founded in 2017 to celebrate the best of Canadian artisan distilling. Distilleries must meet our qualifications: https://artisandistillers.ca/artisan-distillery/. Artisan Distillers Canada, which operates CASC, is a new organization created to support and promote artisan distilleries across Canada.

For more information: https://artisandistillers.ca/

ADC thanks Great Little Box Company for its generous support.

SOURCE Artisan Distillers Canada

For further information: Laura Serena, Serena PR, 604.842.4510, laura@serenapr.com