Tasting Panel Fetes Double Gold Winners at BLT Steak

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles


The The Tasting Panel Magazine is a 65-year-old publication that’s attempted to become “the voice of the wine, beer and spirits industry.” Twice this year, they’ve invited me to industry tasting events, beginning with an Albarino tasting at SLS Hotel. Better yet, on September 29, Tasting Panel feted “double gold” winners from San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition at BLT Steak.

This was the second stop on an 11-city tour to promote the Double Gold Award winners. “Since we don’t do a big event at the end of the competition, we thought it would be a great way to introduce the winners to the trade,” said Tasting Panel President Anthony Dias Blue. “It’s also good publicity for the magazine.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with World Spirits Competition, earlier this year, over 450 distillers and importers submitted spirits from 21 countries. In May, 26 judges convened at San Francisco’s Hotel Nikko, including industry luminaries like Las Vegas mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, Esquire Magazine spirits writer David Wondrich and New York cocktail king Dale DeGroff. The Edison beverage director Aidan Demarest was at BLT Steak, and he recounted judging 150 spirits in over 10 categories. To get a Double Gold, a panel of judges must all award gold in a blind tasting. Here’s a list of all the bronze, silver, gold and Double Gold winners.

On the wine side, in June, 44 judges convened at Hotel Nikko to evaluate wines for the International Wine Competition, including Playboy Mansion Food & Beverage Director William Bloxsom-Carter, CUT Beverage Director Dana Farner, JAR Wine Director Robert Silverstein, Crustacean GM & Sommelier Jeffery K. Stivers, and of course Anthony Dias Blue. This year, over 1200 wineries submitted wines from 21 countries, and here are the award winners.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
BLT Steak featured two rows of tables, one lined with wine, the other showcasing spirits. To limit the damage, it was either one or the other, and I chose the other – spirits. My favorites included Ardmore, a peated single-malt Scotch Whisky that’s smoky, but not overpowering, a testament to the power of bourbon barrel aging.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
Pisco seems to be catching in in the U.S. If a “gran” espirito like Estirpe Peruana Pisco starts to predominate, the trend will continue. The aromatic grape-fueled spirit from Peru didn’t need a sour element to complete the glass.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
(ri) is a new brand of Kentucky Rye Whiskey that didn’t have a typical Jim Beam afterburn. I’ve started to see this in more L.A. bars, for good reason.

Spirits Tasting Los AngelesThis was my first opportunity to try Bols Genever, a Dutch spirit that’s roughly equivalent to gin. It was interesting to taste Bols Genever right before sipping Bluecoat Gin. Bols Genever was smoother and sweeter, but a totally different beast.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
I sampled Cabana Cachaca.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
Clynelish single-malt Scotch made the line-up.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
Los Osunas can’t be considered tequila since it’s not from Mexico’s official tequila producing region. Instead, it’s considered “distilled agave.” Reposado rested for 10 months. Anejo was aged 18 months.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
It’s probably not fair to compare a reposado “tequila” to an anejo tequila, but I did prefer Sol de Mexico’s amber-hued Anejo with oak backbone.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
With so many options, I limited myself to a single glass of wine: Halter Ranch 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, a berry-rich, full-bodied cab without many tannins that convinced me it might be worth swinging by the tasting room on my next drive to Paso Robles.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
BLT Steak provided some great snacks so we didn’t get completely soused, including miniature versions of their pull-apart Gruyere popovers.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
We also enjoyed access to a gigantic plank of charcuterie that includes silky prosciutto and spice-rich salumi.

Spirits Tasting Los Angeles
I also got to indulge in sheets of burgundy-hued bresaola.

Overall, the tasting tour provided a great learning opportunity in a relaxed environment filled with experts who knew WAY more than me about spirits and wine. This might seem like an unrelatable post. The missing link is the magazine, which includes some of the aforementioned information, and more.

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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that charcuterie plate looks delicious! looks like you got to taste a great spread of high-quality spirits

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