The twelve hottest products recognized as 2008 BIN Top Picks Golden Award winners are a spirited bunch, representing the best in ultra-premium quality, packaging and marketing.

In the past several months, we had a lot of compelling products to choose from when picking the best of the best.  Ultimately, however, we narrowed this impressive list down to the twelve spirits below—selected by BIN as well as key retailers, restaurant accounts, bartenders and beverage industry professionals.  These brands are recipients of this year’s BIN Top Picks Golden Award.

While the premium spirits market is admittedly crowded, and all the more so given the fact there were so many launches in 2007, it is also fascinating when you consider all the thought that has gone into every aspect of the products, from the spirit itself to marketing materials to on- and off-premise promotions.  Even with so many interesting products for discerning consumers to choose from, however, there were a dozen products we at BIN felt had the strongest potential for both growth and staying power.  While trends can launch a product, only the right mix of quality, value, packaging and marketing will enable it to outlast its initial of-the-moment appeal.

Image360 VODKA
McCormick Distilling Co. and Premier Beverage Co. created a splash
in 2007 when they launched 360 Vodka, the world’s first environmentally friendly vodka.  Developed and distilled out of a philosophy for producing products that protect Earth’s resources, 360 Vodka applies advanced eco-friendly production and packing processes currently unprecedented in the spirits industry. Although not organic, 360 Vodka uses traditionally harvested local grain due to its vast potential for long-term environmental sustainability. The vodka in every bottle is distilled four times and filtered five times through a highly energy-efficient process. 360 Vodka is also supporting “green” groups dedicated to bettering the environment with its “360 Close the Loop” campaign where the company will donate $1.00 to selected eco-friendly groups and organizations for every closure returned to the distillery.  For more information, contact Young’s Market Company.

ImageABSOLUT 100

The brand name Absolut itself is not just culturally iconic, but also quite bold in its descriptiveness. As it shapes up, Absolut 100 is a bold, mixable, and noticeably smooth 100-proof vodka that stands out and stands up in a cocktail. To elevate this ultra premium variation of Absolut to its 100% full potential, the production processes have been adjusted to develop a smoother high-proof vodka. The taste is distinct, yet smooth and mellow, with a grainy character and notes of dried fruit. The masculine qualities of Absolut 100 are emphasized in the bottle’s sporty design concept, using a bold minimalist color palette of opaque black, chrome silver and muted gray.  They also offer the freedom of choice, as Absolut 100 is available in 200 ml, 375 ml, 750 ml and 1 liter bottles. Available From Southern Wine & Spirits.

Café Boheme, certainly impressed our BIN panel with its unique flavor and smooth finish. Imported from France, Café  Boheme is a blend of gourmet coffee, premium French vodka with créme, and a hint of vanilla. Café  Boheme is a luxury entry to the creme category that currently doesn’t exist, delivering a unique sought-after taste profile. Served on the rocks, in a luxury cocktail or as an alternative to desert, Café  Boheme blends gourmet coffee from an impressive array of the world’s premiere coffee venues, fresh créme from Holland, and premium French Vodka distilled 5 times for maximum smoothness and purity with a hint of vanilla. A timeless Paris “circa 1920” café street scene adorns the luxuriously painted bottle with a delicate, embossed closure adding a reminder of the rich elegance of Paris in the 1920’s. For more information, contact Young’s Market Company.

Manufactured in Italy by Toschi, Fragoli ($34.99 for a 750 ml bottle) is a 24% alcohol strawberry liqueur (made with real wild strawberries) with a smart new bottle design that plays upon the fresh flavor of the berries harvested for the creation of the spirit that is both excellent for sweet cocktails and cooking in desserts and savory recipes.  Toschi, known throughout Europe for its 60 years of innovation and experience with fruit products, puts 150 grams of whole, hand-picked strawberries into every bottle of Fragoli, rendering it a versatile spirit tailor made for cocktails. For more information, contact Sara Escobar at 516/869-9170.




FEB_BIN.qxpGran Patrón Burdeos

While all the Patrón Spirits fall solidly into the premium spirits category, Gran Patrón Burdeos launched last spring, upping the ante of what it means to be at the top of the ultra-premium tequila range.  Gran Burdeos is first painstakingly distilled to 55 percent alcohol volume, matured in a blend of American and French oak barrels and aged for a minimum of twelve months.  What really sets it apart, however, is that it is distilled again before it is racked in hand-selected vintage Bordeaux barrels to impart flavors of vanilla, raisins and dried fruit found in the best Bordeaux wine. Simply the best! For more information, contact Southern Wine & Spirits.

FEB_BIN.qxpKAI Lychee Flavored Vodka
Handcrafted in Vietnam, KAI Lychee Flavored Vodka gets its refined taste from the distillation of rare Yellow-Blossom Rice grown in small villages near the Cam Giang district, along North Vietnam’s Red River Delta. Because of the rice’s delicate nature, it is handcrafted in small batches using techniques that have been handed down for more than six centuries. Kai Lychee Flavored Vodka is also distinguished by the fact that it is the only Lychee vodka on the market, with a specific  aroma, accompanied by notes of sweet spice, rose, and honey.  Lychee, native to Vietnam, highlights KAI Vodka’s character with sweet, rich, natural lychee flavor and hints of rose and orange blossom.  For more information, contact Marcus Bender at 808/593-7731 or Southern Wine & Spirits.