The fourth annual Still on the Hill Craft Spirits Festival in Breckenridge in early October gave the public an opportunity to taste spirits produced by 25 craft distillers from Colorado and beyond.
New this year, the festival added the element of industry judging. Each distillery could enter two spirits in a variety of categories. The spirits were judged in a double-blind taste test by an esteemed panel of industry experts, including Tom Fischer, host and producer of BourbonBlog; Penfield Jensen, head of the American Craft Distillers Association; Dave Pickerell, of Oakview Consulting and formerly of Makers Mark; and Richard Wolf, industry consultant formerly with the Kentucky Distillers Association and Buffalo Trace.
In this inaugural “Judgment on the Hill,” 20 distinctions were awarded in 11 categories. The panel bestowed three Double Gold, eight Gold and nine Silver judgments. The awards were based on the quality of each spirit with regard to taste, smell, integrity and smoothness and not as a ranking of spirits against one another.
“This format of judging helps raise the quality of the emerging craft spirits industry as a whole because our products are being judged on their intrinsic merit,” said Jordan Via, master distiller at Breckenridge Distillery.
The public was able to meet the distillers, try the various spirits and vote for their favorite spirit at the festival’s grand tasting.
Many of the distillers made up cocktails featuring their spirits so that guests could experience how the products can be used.
Attendees received poker chips used to vote for their favorite distillery. They could purchase additional votes by placing a dollar in the bucket of their favorite.
The funds raised from people’s-choice voting were donated to American Red Cross for flood-relief efforts, following the devastating Colorado floods in September. Peach Street Distillery, from Palisade, won the coveted People’s Choice award.
The Still on the Hill festival raised money for the Breckenridge Restaurant Association.
For more information on the event, visit www.breckenridgecraftspiritsfestival.com.