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From The Judge's Table of BSA: Insights from Toshio Ueno, Vice President, Sake School of America

Photo for: From The Judge's Table of BSA: Insights from Toshio Ueno, Vice President, Sake School of America

02/04/2024 Toshio Ueno, Vice President of the Sake School of America and Director of Sake Specialist at MTC, El Monte, provides insights into the Bartender Spirits Awards, emphasizing the competition's role in recognizing excellence in the spirits industry.

In the vibrant world of spirits, innovation, and tradition collide to create flavors that tell stories of heritage, craftsmanship, and the evolution of taste. At the forefront of this dynamic industry is Toshio Ueno, Vice President of the Sake School of America and a revered Director of Sake Specialist at MTC, El Monte. His journey into the spirits world, fueled by a passion for Shochu, underscores a commitment to excellence and an enduring love for the art of distillation.

As the Bartender Spirits Awards (BSA) encourages spirits brands to submit their entries by April 24, the spotlight turns to the meticulous process of judging spirits, aiming to deliver the best to the on-premise sector in the USA. This competition, distinguished by its tagline “Judged By Bartenders, Bar Managers, and Buyers For The On-Premise Industry,” stands as a beacon of excellence, celebrating the finest in the U.S. drinks industry.

Image source: toshioueno

Ueno, with his deep-rooted expertise, highlights the complexity of assessing spirits, pointing out that mixability presents a unique challenge, especially when evaluating premium spirits intended to be savored in their pure form. This nuanced approach to judging underscores the BSA's commitment to recognizing spirits that not only excel in taste but also in their ability to enhance the cocktail experience.

Observing emerging trends through the lens of competition, Ueno has noted a significant impact on brands that clinch awards, especially small and emerging companies. The validation and visibility afforded by winning can catapult these brands into the limelight, often leading to a surge in demand that tests their supply capabilities. This phenomenon underscores the transformative power of competitions like the BSA in spotlighting and elevating deserving spirits on a global stage.

Image source: bartenderspiritsawards

The constructive feedback provided to entrants is another cornerstone of the BSA, fostering a culture of improvement and excellence. Ueno's approach to feedback emphasizes its importance in guiding distilleries toward refining their products. Witnessing the evolution of brands that have taken this feedback to heart, making tangible improvements, and subsequently achieving greater success, is a rewarding experience that speaks to the positive ripple effects of the BSA.

As the BSA continues to champion excellence in the spirits industry, it invites brands seeking to enhance their presence in the on-premise sector to seize the opportunity to be judged by some of the most influential figures in the U.S. bar industry. This competition not only offers a platform for recognition but also serves as a valuable resource for bartenders, bar managers, and owners, guiding them in making informed purchasing decisions that align with current trends and consumer preferences.

In conclusion, the Bartender Spirits Awards, through its rigorous judging process and dedication to promoting excellence, plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of the spirits industry. It is a testament to the passion and innovation that drive this ever-evolving sector, offering a glimpse into the future of spirit consumption and appreciation on a global scale.


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