The Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Single Grain Whiskey, one of the most critically acclaimed whiskeys in Washington state, has been awarded the top prize in the single grain category at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition, judges announced Wednesday.
That “Best of Class” honor is the latest accolade for head distiller Keith Barnes of Bainbridge Organic Distillers whose Yama whiskey also won Best American Grain at the World Whiskies Awards in February. In 2016, Whisky Advocate also named Yama “Craft Whiskey of the Year.“
“It’s always exciting when you win,” Barnes said. “Yama is a pretty innovative whiskey and having it out there forces everyone to be innovative as well. … It puts a target on your back. Everybody comes hunting for whoever wins.”
Yama is made from barley grown in Walla Walla and was aged in Mizunara oak imported from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, which gives the juice its distinctive exotic notes. The prized whiskey retails for $525. The tasting room at the Bainbridge distillery offers a half ounce sample of it for $15.
Barnes also took “Best of Class” for his “Two Islands Islay Cask Barrel Proof Wheat Whiskey.”
At the San Francisco World Spirits awards, the big winner on the Eastside was Woodinville Whiskey Company, which took double gold for two releases: the Cask Strength Straight 100% Rye Whiskey and its Bern’s Steak House Barrel #1953.
In Seattle, the much-loved Garryana American Single Malt, Edition #6 from Westland Distillery took double gold.
A new Seattle distillery, Fast Penny Spirits in Interbay, headed by Jamie Hunt and Holly Robinson, won gold medals for its Amaricano and Amaricano Bianca amari.
Another big winner from Washington state was Orcas Island Distillery, which earned double gold for its West Island Whiskey.