Crows Craft Brewing and Distilling Co., the first Philippine company to create local craft gin, bagged a Silver at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC). It is their second time joining SFSWC where they also won a Bronze last year. Held at San Francisco’s Hotel Nikko last Mar. 13 to 15, this year’s SFWSC is a record-breaker as it featured almost 3,000 entries from around the world. SFWSC is already two decades into ranking masterpieces from renowned international distillers to small producers. 

Fifty seasoned experts in the spirits industry award either a platinum (double gold medal awardees for three consecutive years), double gold (gold medal ratings from the whole panel), gold, silver or bronze in each of the products in the category. Judges assess the individual products through a highly controlled four-day blind tasting process without any knowledge on the producer or the price point.

According to Crows’ founder, Jose Mari Cuervo, there were no difficulties during the competition as the organizers were strict and fair. For Cuervo, Crows’ achievement says a lot about the spirits industry of the Philippines. “We Filipinos are world-class! We can compete against the best in the world and make it. We have the creativity and [the] local botanicals that take us to another level. We should be very proud,” he says.

Crows craft ales (Crows Pale Ale, Carte Blanche, Mala Hierba and De Puta Madre) are made of only four basic ingredients: malt, hops, yeast and water. Meanwhile, their distilled Craft Spirits use 23 foraged and selected botanicals from a variety of citrus and spices. Only 300 bottles are made per batch of Crows Gin, which mixes a variety of  local ingredients such as calamansi, dalandan, pandan and siling labuyo—botanicals that, for Cuervo, are inherently ours and something Filipinos should take pride in. Once aged in medium-charred American oak barrels, Crows Gin becomes Crows Barrel Reserve Gin.

“By way of technique, we always look to improve our gin. The recipe from 2019 and 2020 is the same. The only difference is the technique we used to accentuate the botanicals further which proved to be the factor why we made Silver this time,” says Cuervo.

The Silver medal accolade Crows received is described as “outstanding spirits that show refinement, finesse, and complexity” and among the best in their categories. Aside from Crows, two other Philippine brands received bronze medals: Lakan for their Premium Coconut Liquor Gold (Other Miscellaneous Spirits Category) and Don Papa for their Sevillana Cask Finished Rum (Extra Aged Rum – 5 Years and Older Category).

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