How our judging process works​

From experience gained over years of spirits competition management, we’ve come to know which procedures work, which ones don’t, and what adjustments turn good practices into best practices.

L.A. Spirits Awards provides a truly level playing field for all entries to protect against bias during all phases of the competition. Employing a blind tasting system ensures that judges focus on the quality of each entry, uninfluenced by information that might invoke favoritism or prejudices.

Judges are permitted the time they need to assess their assigned entries with care, and they are limited in their tasting quotas to guard against palate fatigue.

Principal round

During the first stage of tasting, each entry is carefully evaluated by panels of three to four judges. It is here that entries have their first opportunity to earn Bronze, Silver, or Gold medals. Entries deemed worthy of a Gold medal by all judges on a panel are awarded a Platinum medal and may advance to the Best in Show round to compete for L.A. Spirits Awards’ top honors.

Entries do not compete against each other during this round. Instead, they’re judged on their own merits and based on contemporary standards that govern their spirits categories.


Secondary round

In some categories, spirits are assigned to a second round of judging. Secondary rounds are called upon whenever one of the following conditions exists:

Entries whose merits cannot be agreed upon during the initial tasting round are re-tasted to resolve judging disputes.

Broad categories that attract large numbers of entries are sampled by larger panels of judges to ensure that every entry receives the proper opportunities for assessment

If an unusually large number of candidates in any category are nominated during the principal round to compete for Best in Show honors, a secondary tasting is conducted to narrow the field of finalists.

Best in Show round

L.A. Spirits Awards’ final judging round determines the year’s Best in Show award winners—the top honors we bestow.

At this stage, principal- and secondary-round finalist nominees in each category are re-tasted by the entire roster of L.A. Spirits Award judges and Best in Show honors are awarded based on majority vote.

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