Finnish vodka and Spanish rum named among best spirits in the world

The judges sniffed, swirled, and scrutinized at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2011 in New York earlier this month, before crowning an assortment of international spirits as their favorites.

In vodka, Finlandia Classic Vodka, from Finland took the top prize. In gin, the UK's Beefeater London Dry Gin was deemed the best, while Spain's Dos Maderas PX 5 +5 was the crowd favorite for rum.

A panel of 37 experts -- ranging from writers, bartenders, mixologists and sommeliers -- judged all manner of spirits in 27 categories from whiskey, caldvados, tequilas and liqueurs.

The contest took place in New York City in early March, and the results were announced this week.

Though only in its second year, the contest attracted 600 entries for 2011. All products were served in the appropriate glassware, at ideal temperatures to allow for optimum tasting. Spirits were scored on a 100-point scale that ranged from extraordinary, excellent, very good to good. The following are the Chairman's Trophy Winners.

Vodka

Unflavored:  Finlandia Classic Vodka (Finland)

Flavored:  Ketel One Citroen Flavored Vodka (Netherlands)

Gin - World

Beefeater London Dry Gin (United Kingdom)

Tequila - Mexico

Blanco:  Olmeca Plata Blanco, 100% Agave Tequila

Reposado:  Cabo Wabo Reposado, 100% Agave Tequila

Anejo:  Calle 23 Anejo, 100% Agave Tequila

Extra Anejo:  Grand Mayan Extra Anejo, 100% Agave Tequila

Mezcal - Mexico

El Tinieblo Joven Mezcal

Rum - World

Dos Maderas PX 5+5 Rum (Spain)

Whiskey - USA

Bourbon:  George T. Stagg 17 Years Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Rye:  Sazerac Straight 18 Years Old Rye Whiskey

Whiskey - Ireland

Blended:  Michael Collins Blended Irish Whiskey

Single Malt:  Tyrconnell Madeira Finish 10 Years Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Whisky - Scotland

Single Malt-Cask Strength: Aberlour a'bunadh Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Single Malt-Speyside: The Balvenie Peated Cask 17 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Single Malt-Islands: Highland Park 18 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Single Malt-Islay: Lagavulin Distillers Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Blended: Dewar's 18 Years Old Blended Scotch Whisky

Whisky - Canada

Canadian Mist Black Diamond Canadian Blended Whisky

Brandy - World

Aged:  Cardenal Mendoza Brandy de Jerez 17 Years Old Spanish Brandy (Spain)

Unaged:  Remy Martin V Grape Spirit (France)

Cognac - France

Martell XO Cognac

Armagnac - France

Delord 25 Years Old Bas-Armagnac

Calvados - France

Boulard Grand Solage VSOP Pays d'Auge Calvados

Liqueurs - World

Fruit: Merlet Creme de Cassis, Blackcurrant Liqueur (France)

Herbal: Stroh Jagertee Liqueur (Austria)

Aperitifs - World

Lillet Rose Aperitif (France)

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