The International Craft Spirits Excellence Awards

Recognizing the art of craftsmanship.

In Expert Opinion we make sure that the product crafted at your distillery is judged by a professional jury in blind tasting sessions. Scoring is based on a number of qualities and characteristics: from the opacity of the liquid to head- and tail aftertastes.

Recognition in Expert Opinion will give you another international award and medal on your list.

Edition 2019

Stay tuned...





What is the ICSEA all about?

The International Craft Spirits Excellence Award is established in the center of trade - Amsterdam. The Netherlands, being the heart of Europe and the birthplace of jenever, forms the ideal stage to facilitate this rich market opening up. We love craftsmanship at small powerful brands, and we want the world to know about the best of the best.

  • Be local, go international

    Your crafted-made spirit could be the best kept-secret, that needs exposure. By entering the competition you are actively making the steps towards exposure and growth of your distillery and business. Make sure you let your fans grow your popularity and take on the challenge of becoming a popular brand abroad.

  • Get recognition by experts&public

    Winning is all about getting your long journey to a great product recognized. You already know how much work it takes to make a good craft spirit, so let your customers and experts be vocal about the quality your distillery is delivering!

  • Be visible, grow your brand

    The competition serves as a platform for your distillery to become ‘the talk of the town’. You will have a good reason to grow supporters of your products! Make the competition event start your growth by using leaflets and bottle stickers. Seek publicity by being vocal about your nomination or award win. Let it buzz!

Your Easy 5-Step Guide to Recognition

Enrolling your distillery into the award competition is not that difficult at all.
We made the process as smooth and efficient as possible for you to get the most value when being recognized.

- get your craftsmanship recognized -

  • 1

    Enter the competition

    Join the competition by sending us information about your distillery and the product(s) you would like to enter for judging. You can enter the competition in different nominations. Our team will get in touch with you and will guide you through the next steps.

  • 2

    Send samples for blind tasting

    Send the samples of nominated spirits to our address in the Netherlands.

  • 3

    Spread the word and let your fans vote for you!

    After entering the competition, you will be able to share your entry via social media, email, or on your website. Let your fans vote for you and help you also earn a public recognition award!
    ICSEA can provide you with various promotional materials, like flyers to leave at your favourite distributor or stickers to stick on the bottles to spread the word.

  • 4

    Get unbiased expert opinion

    After all submissions are ready, our team of experts will judge all the entries in blind tasting and will let you know which of your entries made it to the top.

  • 5

    Together with other winners join the Award Ceremony!

    All the top distilleries with their winning craft spirits will be invited together with their supporters to the Award Ceremony, where results will be announced.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you wanted to know, but still was not sure about.
Feel free to get in touch with us if you would like to know more, and we will be glad to answer
any of your questions and help you further with the registration process.

I am a distillery and want to join the competition, what nominations are available?

Edition 2019 is dedicated to gins. All craft gins will be judged in blind sessions and will get a chance to receive Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum awards, based on the total score awarded by the jury. The gin with the highest score will receive recognition as The Best Gin of The Year. Next to that, our jury will select gins with a very distinct and unusual taste to award them with Signature Gin label. Discovery of The Year is another nomination, where jury will pull their choice.

All gins that score an award will follow another round of blind tastings by typical gin consumers, giving a chance to receive an additional Consumer Top 3 Choice award.

Is there any payment involved?

Yes, you can expect the following spendings during the course of the event:

  1. Entry fee. There is an application fee involved, charged per each entry.
  2. Shipping costs. As a distillery you are responsible for shipping of your samples to our address in the Netherlands.

When is the deadline?

The timeline and deadlines for the next edition will be announced soon. We expect to finalize all the judging in May 2019, giving you a chance to use the medal during the high summer season.

What do the winners receive?

The winners will receive a certificate, the right to use medals on the winning spirit bottles or any other advertisement material, bottle-stickers depicting the medal awarded.

How many bottles do I need to send for blind competition?

Please make sure to send 2 bottles of at least 500ml for each entry. All shipping costs and related tax are for the sender.

How will you inform us about the results?

We will inform the winners about the results by email.

Our distillery produces more than one brand, can I nominate them all?

Yes, you can nominate as many spirits as you want. The only condition: the spirit should be a commercially launched product.

Who are the judges?

Jury members will be anonymous during the selection period to avoid any influence.

How does the award help me to promote my brand?

Participating in this competition will raise visibility to your distillery and your brands. Winning one of the awards will give your brand a distinct differentiator on the store shelf. The award results will receive a strong PR among large distributors in continental Europe.

How is the winner selected?

The winner will be selected during blind tasting sessions. Each jury will be tasting no more than 20 gins per day, to avoid taste and scent influence. Each gin will be judged by at least 7 jury members, using WSET Level 4 Spirits Tasting framework, adjusted to the specifics of gin.

All gins will be judged based on their unmodified by additives taste, as poured straight from the bottle. An addition, gins will be judged for their taste in the mix with tonic (all gins will be mixed with the same neutral Indian tonic).

All the scoring and jury comments on own brand will be available for nominees after the competition upon request in an anonymised format.