ABQ distillery brings home four American Craft Spirit Awards - Albuquerque Journal

ABQ distillery brings home four American Craft Spirit Awards

Safe House Distilling Co. recently won medals for some of its spirits at the 2022 American Craft Spirits Awards. (Courtesy of Safe House Distilling Co.)

Each year, Safe House Distilling Co. tries its hand at winning medals in different competitions with its various spirits.

Its effort paid off this year at the American Craft Spirits Awards presented by the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA). Safe House brought home silver for its Barrel Aged Lock Pick Gin, silver for its ready-to-drink Teller Blueberry Lavender Lemonade canned cocktail, bronze for its Teller Green Chile vodka, and bronze for its Lock Pick Gin. Two other New Mexico distilleries also received medals at the competition – Red River Brewing Co. & Distillery taking silver for its Silver King Vodka and Santa Fe Spirits winning bronze for its Wheeler’s Gin.

It is the first time Safe House has submitted its products to the American Craft Spirits Awards.

“This one really focuses on the craft industry and quality of spirits more than branding companies and the marketing side of it,” said Chris Leurig, Safe House master distiller.

The ACSA is the nation’s only national registered nonprofit trade association representing the craft spirits industry in the United States. It hosts the American Craft Spirits Awards annually. This year, entries were submitted from 37 states and Washington, D.C., in seven main categories: brandy, distilled specialty spirits, gin, ready-to-drink (RTD), rum, vodka and grain spirits, and whiskey; in addition to Best in Show, Best of Class, and Innovation distinctions, according to the ACSA’s website.

A panel of 30 expert judges evaluated more than 400 spirits in April at High Wire Distilling Co. in Charleston, South Carolina. The awards ceremony was held in late July in New Orleans, according to the website. The judging panel awarded 15 gold, 104 silver and 159 bronze medals.

The four medals won at the American Craft Spirits Association brings Safe House’s medal count to 10. In 2020, it won a gold medal for its Teller Blueberry Lavender Vodka and a bronze for its Teller Green Chile vodka at the U.S. Open Whiskey & Spirits Championship. In 2021 it scored gold for its Teller Genuine Vodka, gold for its Teller Apple Pie Vodka, silver for its Teller Blueberry Lavender Vodka, and bronze for Teller Green Chile vodka at the San Francisco World Spirits competition.

Producing Safe House spirits is a team effort between Leurig and distiller Kaylynn McKnight who joined the distillery full time in January 2021. McKnight comes from a brewing background and has an impressive portfolio of her own. She has won gold and silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and World Beer Cup as head brewer at two Albuquerque breweries. She can now add medals for spirits to her list of accolades. McKnight has flawlessly transitioned from the brewing scene to the world of distilling. It has been a different but welcome change for McKnight even when it comes to competitions such as the American Craft Spirits Awards.

“It was awesome,” McKnight said. “The whole award ceremony was kind of the same but different. I don’t want to say a lot more awards were given out than GABF, (but) the categories are just a lot bigger. It’s kind of overwhelming, but a lot of fun.”

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