Entries now open for the 2023 Melbourne Royal Australian Distilled Spirits Awards

Melbourne Royal has announced the return of the 2023 Australian Distilled Spirits Awards with several exciting new initiatives for 2023, including a new Head Judge.

Established in 2015, the Awards are Australia’s first and largest spirits competition, recognising excellence in Australian distilled spirits, liqueurs, and bitters, and is the only Australian competition fully endorsed by the Australian Distillers Association.

Attracting 863 entries from 227 exhibitors in 2022, this year is seeking to break that record, with entries open from today until 23 June and the judging process to take place on 25 – 27 July 2023 at Melbourne Showgrounds.

Melbourne Royal is pleased to announce the appointment of Shaun Byrne as the new Head Judge for 2023.

Director of two of Australia’s most awarded beverage brands, Maidenii Vermouth and Marionette Liqueurs, Shaun is a well-known and respected figure in the Australian spirits industry and brings to the role more than 20 years of experience in hospitality coupled with his extensive judging experience.

Shaun has been involved in the Awards since its inception in 2015 and has watched it grow and evolve to become the most important spirits competition in Australia.

Shaun will lead an esteemed judging panel, boasting some of the nation’s most highly respected spirits and liqueurs industry professionals, from educators, writers, and consultants through to retailers, distributors, and distillers. Shaun has taken the reins from Seb Costello, who completed his three-year term as head judge in 2022. Costello will return to the judging panel this year as Gin Chair overseeing the numerous panels dedicated to the category to ensure consistency in approach and fairness in judging.

“To be asked to lead the judging as the Head Judge is a great honour and carries a weight of responsibility to ensure that entrants are receiving fair and valuable feedback and appropriate recognition of their products,’ said Byrne.

"As a spirits producer, the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards are invaluable in receiving feedback on upcoming new products.”

Now in its 9th year, the Awards welcomes a number of refinements to the program.

New for 2023 is the introduction of the Design Award, whereby entrants will have the opportunity to receive feedback on their brand execution and packaging. This is intended to highlight spirits packaging which can be appreciated on its aesthetics, functionality, environmental impact, and novelty. The category will be judged by a panel of leading design industry experts.

Also new this year is a rework of the Vodka category which will now award two trophies - Best Pure / Neutral Vodka Trophy and Best Flavoured Vodka Trophy – to acknowledge the growth within the category.

Another growth category is fruit and wine gin which will be recognised with its own trophy in 2023 – Best Fruit or Wine Gin Trophy.

Refinements have also been made to the definitions of rum, cane spirits, gin, and agave categories.

“Australia is now known as a premium spirit-producing country with enthusiastic producers creating sophisticated drops that are being lapped up by excited audiences around Australia and the world,” said Damian Nieuwesteeg, Manager Awards Programs Food, Beverage and Horticulture.

“As the industry evolves at a serious pace, the 2023 Awards sees us innovating to ensure that they remain relevant to industry and consumers.

“Medal and trophy winners can leverage their success and market medal-winning products using the Melbourne Royal Australian Distilled Spirits Awards seal of excellence,” said Nieuwesteeg.

The 2023 Awards also sees the return of the Exhibitor and Trade Tasting at Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday 4 August from 10am until midday, following the announcement of results the night before. Anticipating upward of 800 entries, with each being made available for sampling, this is going to be an unparalleled opportunity to sample, critique, and learn about contemporaries in the industry, and to spruik to trade.

A cocktail-style Awards Trophy Presentation event will be held at the iconic Victoria Pavilion at Melbourne Showgrounds on Thursday 3 August. Spirit lovers can purchase tickets from today for a chance to taste award-winning spirits, cocktails, and a chance to mingle with the distillers, while hearing all the winner announcements.

Key Dates

Entries Close: Friday 23 June
Judging: Tuesday 25 July – Thursday 27 July
Awards Trophy Presentation: Thursday 3 August
Exhibitor and Trade Tasting: Friday 4 August

More information can be found at https://www.melbourneroyal.com.au/australian-distilled-spirits-awards/