Story courtesy of Nashville Scene.

Time for Another Tall Glass of Booze News

Spirits awards, national championships and National Moonshine Day

By: Chris Chamberlain

Nashville continues to be a hub of the spirits and cocktail universe, and there’s so much going on that we decided to put together a compendium of news. Pour yourself a highball and settle in.

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First off, local distilleries continue to rack up awards in various tasting competitions. We told you about the San Francisco World Spirits Awards results back in April, and since then, the medals just keep coming.

In the 2022 SIP Awards, several local distilleries brought home hardware. Franklin Distillery won a double gold for their Southern Gin and a gold for their Southern Vodka, along with two packaging design awards. Nashville Barrel Co. received gold for their Straight Rye and a silver for their Straight Bourbon. Nelson’s Green Brier cleaned up with double golds for their new Nelson Brothers Classic Bourbon and their Greenbrier Tennessee Whiskey, as well as a gold for their Nelson Brothers Reserve Bourbon.

O.H. Ingram River Aged Whiskey had a spectacular showing at the SIP Awards, winning platinum best in class for their Flagship Bourbon, a double gold for their Straight Bourbon and a gold for their Straight Whiskey.

Although Ole Smoky Distillery’s main production facilities are in East Tennessee, we’ll claim ’em since they also distill here at their 6th & Peabody location. They brought home a passel of awards, including a platinum for their Peanut Butter Whiskey plus three double golds and three golds for some of their other flavored whiskeys, premixed cocktails and Bloody Mary mix.

Standard Proof Whiskey Co. also needed a wheelbarrow to haul home their awards for their line of infused rye whiskeys, winning platinums for their Pecan and Wildflower versions, double gold for their Pumpkin Spice and a gold, two silvers and a bronze for four of their other products. Uncle Nearest also took home a platinum, two double golds and a gold for various expressions of their Tennessee whiskeys and bourbons.

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Spirits writer Fred Minnick again organized the Ascot Awards for 2022, and a few local distilleries showed up among the winners. Jack Daniel’s won a double platinum for their 10-year-old edition of their flagship product, as did Nashville Barrel Co. for their Straight Bourbon, Green Brier for their Nelson Brothers Reserve and Tennessee Whiskey, O.H. Ingram for their Straight Rye and Straight Whiskey and Uncle Nearest for three of their whiskey expressions. Leiper’s Fork Distillery received a platinum for their Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon. Other platinums were awarded to Nashville Barrel Co.’s Single Barrel Straight Rye, Nelson Brothers Classic Bourbon, Franklin Distillery’s Southern Gin, Fugitive Spirits’ Tennessee Waltz, Jack Daniel’s Rye and Triple Mash, Leiper’s Fork’s Bottled-in-Bond Tennessee Whiskey and Uncle Nearest’s Premium Small Batch. Finally, the Ascots handed out golds to Franklin Distillery for their Southern Vodka and Jack Daniel’s for their Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey and Rye.

So if you’re looking for some award-winning spirits, this is a pretty strong list to start out with.

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The annual Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans recognizes the world’s best bars as part of their Spirited Awards ceremony, and a handful of Nashville establishments have made the finalist lists in major categories. The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club and Pearl Diver both made the short list of Best U.S. Cocktail Bar: East, LA Jackson is a finalist for Best U.S. Hotel Bar: East, and The Bar at Audrey is one of 10 nominees for Best New U.S. Cocktail Bar: East. Winners will be announced on July 28.

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Speaking of winners, the 15 national finalists for Diageo’s World Class bartender competition will be facing off in Nashville June 20-21 for the chance to win the U.S. title and travel to Sydney, Australia, to fight for the Global World Class championship. While no Nashvillians made the finals this year, they chose Nashville as the site where these talented mixologists will compete in four grueling competitions to come out on top.

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Less competitive but even more enjoyable will be the return of the Nashville Cocktail Festival Sept. 16-17. The schedule is still coming together, and tickets won’t go on sale until later this summer, but I wanted you to mark it on your calendar so you can plan ahead!

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Finally, this Thursday, June 2, is National Moonshine Day, and Ole Smoky is marking the occasion with Shine Fest at their 6th & Peabody location. Starting at 3 p.m., they’ll be featuring local bluegrass artists followed by country singer Levi Hummon and Grammy-nominated bluegrass performers The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, who are bringing their two apostrophes with them all the way from East Tennessee. Food trucks will be on hand to feed the overflow crowds, and they’re planning to come up with a special moonshine cocktail to commemorate their special day.

Ole Smoky is also holding a sweepstakes in connection with the event, although the grand prize is a trip to Nashville — so maybe you could ask for an outbound ticket instead if you win. There are other prizes as well, so it’s worth a shot. (Shot, heh.)