Arizona Distilling Company took yet another leap in legitimacy this past weekend when they came up big at the San Francisco Spirits Competition, winning a distinguished Double Gold medal for their Desert Dry Gin.
The Double Gold billing is second only to spirits which, from the Double Gold group, go on to win Best in Show -- some 50 or so top prizes, two of which are reserved for Best Gin and Best Flavored Gin, in every major category of spirit from Best White Unaged Spirit to best Single Malt Scotch. This year the competition's judges narrowed down a field of 1580 spirits (the most ever applicants, from 41 states and 66 countries), which puts Desert Dry Gin just a scratch outside some truly historic company.
Arizona's Distilling Co.'s previous bronze and silver medal finishes in the 2014 competition suggest they are certainly moving in the right direction. The Double Gold group does, in fact, include such established gin brands as the UK's Plymouth and Tanqueray -- giants in their own right -- as well as smaller American boutique brands, like 50 Fathoms from Port Chilkoot Distillery in Alaska, who won a Gold medal at the 2015 American Craft Spirits Association Awards.
In the SFSC's gin categories, this year's Best in Show awards went to Barcelona's Master's Dry Gin and the Duncan Taylor Saffron-infused Indian Summer Gin from Scotland.
Arizona Distilling Co. deserves recognition for their progressive sourcing that helps to identify and legitimize our state's terroir; Desert Dry Gin gets its flavors solely from Arizona-grown botanicals, and it likely goes without saying, though it may not be obvious, that their "grain-to-bottle" Desert Durum Wheat Whiskey is the first whiskey to use Arizona-grown wheat of the historically rich Durum variety.
"Arizona's first legal distillery using locally grown grain" is starting to sound less like a Western tall-tale and more like modern force in the spirits world.