Two rum brands won platinum medals and three rum brands won gold medals at the 2023 Las Vegas Global Spirit Awards (LVGSA). Although the major rum brands still dominated sales, all medalists were craft distillers. Craft distilleries are increasingly defining quality standards and dominating the top medals at international spirits competitions.
The only platinum medalist with a score of 98/100 in the under 5 category was Cal Distillery, Outcast Rum, 46% ABV, 700 ml.
Cal Distillery is based in a Sydney suburb known as Devil’s Wilderness. The company was founded in 2018 by Nick and Allie Ayers. The distillery has consistently won international spirits competitions across a wide range of spirits categories.
Outkast Rum is molasses-based and fermented for two weeks. Aged for 2-3 years in Australian whiskey barrels.
The LVGSA Review Board says of Outcast Lamb:
Aromas of baked molasses cookies, brown sugar, caramel, and dried fruit. The mouthfeel is smooth and oily, with aromas of dark dried fruit, caramel, and molasses. The finish is long, with notes of baked molasses cookies, lingering pepper, and a slight bitterness at the end.
The Gold Award winners in the Rum 5 and Under category are as follows: Minoki Rum, 40% alcohol, 700 mlscored 93/100 points; Distillery Claus, Rum Master Blend, 48% ABV, 700 mlscores 92/100 points.
Minokirum is a molasses-based rum brand founded in Japan. The company claims to be the first rum maker to finish its spirit in Japanese Mizunara casks. Before bottling, the rum is filtered through bleached coral washed up on the shore. Minoki A portion of the proceeds from his rum sales will be kept as a coral reef restoration fund.
The company also produces an 8-year-old rum finished in Japanese cedar (Someiyoshino) barrels and a 12-year-old rum finished in Japanese cherry blossom (Sakura) wood (Sakura) barrels. Both expressions are limited edition expressions and are filtered through bleached coral before bottling.
The LVGSA Judging Committee described the characteristics of minnowi rum as follows:
Aromas of molasses/brown sugar and dried tropical fruits are evident. The mouthfeel is smooth and oily with a pronounced vanilla flavor, cinnamon spice notes, and a touch of clove. The finish is long and sweet, with lingering aromas of toasted molasses and a hint of pepper.
Distillery Krauss is a craft distillery based in Austria. The Rum Master Blend is molasses-based and aged in American oak barrels.
The LVGSA explained that it has the following characteristics:
The nose is a “funky” rum ester with notes of tropical fruit, smoked banana/plantain, and vanilla. Smooth and oily on the palate, it has pronounced weight with notes of cooked/smoky banana, semisweet chocolate, dried tropical fruits, vanilla, and coffee with pronounced rum esters typical of funky Jamaican rums. The finish is very long with lingering aromas of dry tropical fruits, mocha and rum esters.
It was the top rum in the category for over 7 years and won the Best Rum award. Ron Parce, Ron Reserva Especial 8, 40% ABV, 750 ml, 98/100 points. Parce Rum is based in Chicago. However, the rum is distilled in Pese, Panama, and is based on sugar cane juice sourced from sugar cane harvested in Colombia, Trinidad, and Panama. After distillation, the rum is transported to Colombia for blending, barreling, and aging. While it’s not always easy to find, this rum typically sells for less than $20 in the United States, making it a great value for an 8-year-old rum.
The LVGSA Judging Committee described the characteristics of Parse Rum as follows:
Aromas of dried tropical fruit, brown sugar, caramel, and dried tobacco grass. In the mouth it’s very smooth and creamy, with a crème brûlée quality and noticeable dried fruits, caramel, dried orange zest, hints of baked molasses cookies, cinnamon spice, and slightly bitter notes. The aftertaste is long, with aromas of caramel and dried fruit that linger for a long time. This is the perfect rum to pair with cigars.
of Ron Parce, Ron Reserva Especial 12, 40% alcohol, 750 ml, 92/100 points, won a gold medal. Parse Especial 12 is similar to Parse Especial 8 and has a similar flavor profile, but the mouthfeel is smoother and the flavor seems a little more intense. Especial 12 is made exactly like Especial 8, but aged for an additional four years in Colombia.
LVGSA was founded in 2016 and is currently in its seventh year. As the oldest and largest spirits competition in Las Vegas, it has always had a wide impact nationally. Not only is Las Vegas a significant beverage market, but the city’s burgeoning restaurant and mixology community is gaining an increasing reputation for innovation and is at the forefront of national trends. Additionally, craft brands that win platinum and gold medals in competitions are almost always offered distribution in Nevada. For aspiring craft distillers, tapping into the high-profile Las Vegas market is often key to gaining national distribution.
The 2023 LVGSA offered a variety of flavor profiles with a large selection of excellent craft rums. The top five rums all consistently win medals and have enviable achievements in international spirits competitions. Five rums have won more than 50 medals in the past few years, demonstrating that their outstanding quality is widely recognized. If you enjoy drinking aged rum neat or in cocktails, you’ll find plenty to pique your interest in these award-winning spirits.
For a complete list of 2023 Las Vegas Global Spirits Award winners, please visit their website.