It's not about ignorance. At Balcones, we hope that Texas whisky lovers will rejoice and take pride in our success. I could see your point if we had just won a couple of bronze and silver medals, but the fact is we took double gold and gold for everything we entered, and our bourbon beat every other brown spirit in the competition - which is no small feat. (complaint that we didn't make enough enters stage left) Maybe that doesn't mean much to you, but it means a lot to us, and a lot to whisky lovers all over Texas and the rest of the world who have gone out of their way to congratulate us on our achievements. It's also worth mentioning that it's thanks in part to those awards we were able to secure the financing to build our new distillery.
For what it's worth, roughly 260 spirits were entered. If you want to do the rest of the math, please post the results here. The full awards list is at http://www.nyworldwineandspiritscompetition.com/
You may disagree with the premise behind these events but let's not forget you have never entered one of these competitions, never mind won an award for making whisky. Which is probably why you don't understand their value. Having interacted with these organizations personally, and working for a distillery on the receiving end of some pretty impressive accolades, I can personally vouch that they are worthwhile to participate in. If anything they are validation that we, a tiny craft whisky distillery tucked under a bridge, are doing something right, even faced up against some of the big players in the industry. Obviously it is a form of marketing for a supplier, who wouldn't advertise the fact that a panel of respected judges gave their creation an award? We're not trying to dupe "gullible" consumers into thinking our product is good, they are fortunately smart enough to make the judgement for themselves. Our aim is to be able to say "We made this, these people said it was really good, we hope you like it too" which you could argue is a more modest approach than "We made this, it's really good, trust me, buy it." It seems to be working for us so far.
I must stress to you the competition itself is not a farce. The judges are real, they have relevant experience and stature in the industry, and the evaluation process has strict rules and standards. Furthermore, the NY WWSC is done out in the open at a trade show so it is 100% transparent. You are free to not respect the results, but we do and so do many, many others, so it's unfair to say they're worthless.
Also, it's a misleading to point out that 50% of the entries won awards. They are not all equal. Bronze, Silver and Gold account for 80% of those, while Double Gold only represents the top 10% of all spirits entered. Finally, <1% of entries received the top honor: Best in Show - Brown Spirits
Wade likes to be the turd in the punchbowl but he's right about awards. It's nothing against Balcones, you know how good your stuff is, that's not the issue. The problem is that there are so many competitions giving so many awards that it's impossible for the consumer to know what any of it is worth. I used to judge in competitions for Whisky Magazine, ADI, and others. I no longer do. For one thing, it's a lot of difficult and time consuming work with no benefit to me, and the quality control is zero. But advertiser-supported media love them because advertisers love them, especially when the sponsors are generous with the awards.
All the children are above average.
Then there are the competitions that seem to exist only for the glorification and probably enrichment of the organizers, or so they hope. Again, their customers are the people who pay to enter and to satisfy their customers they give lots of awards.
I wouldn't have brought up this subject in this thread but since it's here and people seem to be dancing around it, I thought I'd jump in and lay out the dilemma as I see it.
Col. Charles K. "Crotchety" Cowdery
"Whiskey Don't Keep."
I'm going to have to side with Wade and Chuck on this one. I think the story of Chuck doing one of these award things and HW winning distillery of the years award against his protest is the best example. Chuck care to tell that story again? even though I told the punch line.
Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider, is chaos for the fly.
I agree with both sides. The competitions are worthless to most of us here, but that's not the point of the competition. As an enthusiast, you would be stupid to follow these awards and ratings religiously. And as a producer, you would be stupid not to participate.