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.

News: What to Read, Sip and Know Now

Pouring it on: a new Canadian beverage alcohol magazine

Earlier this year, the inaugural issue of Poured debuted, billing itself as “the only magazine to target and directly reach the producers of beer, wine and spirits across Canada.” It’s produced by Lester Communications in Winnipeg, in partnership with Beer Canada, Spirits Canada and the Canadian Vintners Association. The latest issue had coverage of the artisan spirits scene, including stories on The Distillery School in North Vancouver and women distillers in Canada.

Other potential good reads for artisan distillers in Canada:

  • Distilled, the Ottawa-based magazine celebrating “the craft and culture of fine spirits.”

  • Artisan Spirit, the publication of the American Craft Spirits Association.

  • SevenFiftyDaily, covering the business of beverage alcohol from a U.S. perspective.

Cocktails by Volume

In October, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers in Beamsville, Ontario, will publish Craft Cocktails: Seasonally Inspired Drinks & Snacks From Our Sipping Room, by distiller Geoff Dillon and Whitney Rorison, the distillery’s hospitality manager. To be published by Penguin Random House Canada, it includes 100 seasonal recipes inspired by their wine-country location and ingredients. Pre-order a copy now from the publisher, or from online stores including Indigo, Kobo and Amazon.

Vodka 2.0

Following an industry consultation period between January and March of this year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has expanded and revised its Food and Drug Regulations around vodka. It now allows vodka to be made from agricultural products other than potato and cereal grain (including fruits, dairy or honey), in line with other global jurisdictions; those products, however, must be disclosed to consumers on the label. It also permits vodka to be rendered neutral (“without distinctive character, aroma, or taste”) by material or processes other than charcoal. The new rules came into force on June 26, and distillers have until December 13, 2022 to implement new labelling requirements.

Meet Your New Colleagues

Welcome to the fold some of the most recent artisan distillers to open across Canada. We’ve got our eyes on another dozen or so that are almost ready to open their doors: drop us a note if you know about a new distillery opening in your area!

Sweet on Liqueurs: Why your distillery needs one in its portfolio

Though many distillers get into the business out of a passion to make great whisky, or to explore the nuances of gin, we believe every distillery should make something on the sweeter side. Why?

Read More