Let me make it clear that I do not take Spirits Competition awards – from anyone – at face value. I really have to wonder about a competition where 700 entrants win a total of 635 awards. It doesn’t seem right.
However, I still feel these lists can be useful if interpreted correctly. Let’s take a look at something…
I grabbed the list from the 2006 San Francisco Word Spirits Competition, which lists 593 winners out of an unknown number of spirits entered. There were approximately 74 Double Gold Winners, 120 Gold Winners, 250 Silver Winners and 162 Bronze Winners. (Yes, the total is off by a few – I’m not about to spend hours scouring this list for a simple example.)
Since almost half of the entrants won Silver awards, then I’d say that the Silver winners are just average. The Bronze winners… Winners? The Bronze “winners” are a list of spirits that ranked below average. And any spirit entered in such a competition which doesn’t get an award must be fairly bad. Too bad this list isn’t easily available, if at all.
Checking The Scores
So when looking at these lists I pay attention to the winners that placed at the top – Gold and particularly Double Gold in this case, though some competitions may use Platinum, or Platinum instead of Double Gold.
Next I will usually check these lists over the years, and check multiple such competitions. I try to pay particular attention to rums that consistently win top scores across multiple competitions, or across multiple years.
I get a little worried if a rum won Double Gold in someone’s competition but won Bronze in someone else’s competition. Or if a rum wins Platinum one year and Silver the next. Such results don’t ring true.
Now that I have a list of potential winners for purchase, I do some research. I’ve got 5 or 6 rum books handy, so I’ll flip through those.
The Internet, of course, gets used a lot. First I’ll check any of the sites that I consider worthwhile for rum reviews. (The list of sites is on the right.) Even then I have to consider who’s doing the reviewing, and what they’re saying. Sometimes you have to read between the lines.
If I haven’t made a decision yet, I go broad and search the entire Internet. Is anyone talking about this rum? If so, what are they saying? (Press releases and obvious comments-for-hire are worthless in my opinion.) Are many people talking, and do they agree?
Hopefully by this time I’ll have made a decision whether a particular rum gets put on my list, or not. If not, I may mentally mark it and research again later.
You can see the current list of rums I want to try here.