Vara Winery and Distillery recently won big in the Big Apple.
It received the prestigious recognition of New Mexico Distillery of the Year at the 2021 New York International Spirits Competition.
Several of its spirits also won awards. Its High Desert Gin took Double Gold in the gin category, it also won a gold medal for Vara Rum Blanco and a silver medal for Vara Rum Añejo.
Taylor Garrett Whiskey and Taylor Garrett Canteen Imperial Malt, a collaboration with Canteen Brewhouse, each received bronze medals.
Vara and Taylor Garrett share the same distiller, Scott Feuille, who distills both spirit lines on the Vara Winery & Distillery premises.
“It’s nice,” Feuille said of the accolades. “It’s kind of humbling. I know there’s a lot of really great spirit producers here in New Mexico and, of course, throughout the nation. So, to be recognized for some of the things we’re doing is really, you know, it’s humbling just to think that hey, we’re making stuff that we think is good and when other people try it, they agree. We’re very excited about that and happy that others feel the way we do about our spirits.”
Entering competitions such as the New York International Spirits Competition helps bring attention to Vara and Taylor Garrett products.
“The big brands are all very well established, known for their competency or their style, and they don’t need somebody signing a permission slip for them,” said Vara co-owner Doug Diefenthaler. “But they get somebody like us that, you know, in our near surrounds, people know about us and have tasted things and like them and they can recommend. But in order for it to really establish people who have never heard of it before or know anybody who’s heard of it before, it needs to have some kind of indication of what to expect when they see something like that.
“And so, it is incredibly gratifying to know that people you don’t know, who are professionals in the industry, have tried your item out of the blue, without knowing who you are or what it is, other than the categories its being tried in, and they deem it a quality that they would recommend.”
The recognitions create an awareness that the awarded products are something that should be experienced.
“Everybody’s going to have a little different taste, a little different opinion, but when you’ve got numerous judges on a panel that hold you up to some of the best that there is, then you’ve got something, and you just want to keep improving that or keep it stable and not lose pace,” Diefenthaler said.
“Eventually, it becomes a key selling factor. A lot of consumers are faced with numerous choices all the time. They just need to see some kind of validation. They can’t possibly try them all, but if they can look at somebody who has tried them and they come to those conclusions, they say well, maybe I will try that.”
Vara and Taylor Garrett competed against some heavy hitters in the New York International Spirits Competition that took place virtually in its 12th year..
More information and a full list of winners can be found at nyispiritscompetition.com.