The 2023 Ultimate Spirits Challenge results are in and once again Boyd & Blair distilled by Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries (Pennsylvania Pure), Pittsburgh-based craft spirits producer of Boyd & Blair spirits and ready-to-serve cocktails, has risen to the top – with 2 Chairman’s Trophies and 6 spirits ranking 93 or higher.

With such accolades the City of Champions can boast with pride that the world’s best spirits are distilled right here in Pittsburgh and are available in over 300 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in PA and nationally.

The Chairman’s Trophy is the highest accolade that can be given to a spirit by the Ultimate Spirits Challenge and this is the third Chairman’s Trophy for the distillery’s flagship brand, Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, which also took the trophy in 2019 and 2020. Also receiving a Chairman’s Trophy (for the second time) was the Boyd & Blair Blood Orange Cosmo, a ready-to-drink cocktail which received a near-perfect score of 99. 

But perhaps most notably, the Blood Orange Cosmo earned itself the #2 spot on the USC’s Top 100 Spirits of 2023 – outperforming not only other ready-to-drink cocktails, but spirits of all kinds including world-renowned vodkas, gins, single malts and aged whiskeys. The Potato Vodka also earned a spot on the Top 100 Spirits list (for the fourth time) beating out many globally-known luxury brands.

The success of their flagship 97-rated Potato Vodka led to their development of Cucumber Vodka, Silver Rum and their line of batched-by-hand cocktails including the Blood Orange Cosmo, Espresso Martini, Lavender Martini and Grapefruit Mule. This expansion has proven to be a most fruitful and award-winning development – with both the 95-rated Keystone Tea and the 93-rated Grapefruit Mule finishing as Finalists in the ready-to-drink cocktail category.

What sets the Boyd & Blair ready-to-drink cocktails apart from the competition? The craft cocktails are never carbonated, they are packaged in bottles that contain 11 servings (not in single serving cans like most others in the category), and they are made with the award-winning Potato Vodka and Silver Rum. 

What is the secret to Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries success? They leverage locally-sourced, premium ingredients, and they use patient, methodical processes. Each bottle is a testament to the profound level of care, craftsmanship and experience behind their distillery door. 

“In order to make a truly award-winning spirit, you need to start with great ingredients,” said Barry Young, Master Distiller at Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries. “Our Blood Orange Cosmo is made with natural blood orange, cranberry, lime and our Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, which is in turn, made from locally grown potatoes and distilled using champagne yeast. These ingredients and the patient processes by which we put them together are to thank for these high scores.”

With such high-quality ingredients, bottling, and attentive care it is not surprising that 3 of the Boyd & Blair ready-to-drink cocktails placed as finalists in the competition.

Boyd & Blair products can be purchased in hundreds of Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores across Pennsylvania and at Pennsylvania Libations stores and online at boydandblair.com. Wanting to ship the best of Pittsburgh out of state? See boydandblair.com and select Shop Outside of PA and send some love.

What is the Ultimate Spirits Challenge? The Ultimate Spirits Challenge is the definitive spirits evaluation company, its credibility stemming from its stringent double-blind judging system and scoring methodology (every product is sampled and scored separately by multiple expert judge panels then compiled into a final aggregate score). Scores of 85-89 indicate substantial quality, 90-94 indicate that a product is extraordinary, and scores of 95 and above indicate that a spirit is “the best of the best”.

The Ultimate Spirits Challenge citations of excellence include the Chairman’s Trophy, Finalist, and Great Value.  The Chairman’s Trophy is the pinnacle recognition of excellence within every category and only 45 to 55 Chairman’s Trophies are awarded each year. Spirits that were in the running for the Chairman’s Trophy receive a Finalist Award. And the Great Value Award is given to spirits that are affordable yet offer a remarkable level of quality. The Top 100 Spirits are awarded for the top 100 spirits for the Challenge year, regardless of category.

An Ultimate Spirits Challenge award recognizes the skill of distillation and maturation by the distillers but also provides useful information for end consumers. A spirit with an Ultimate Spirits Challenge Award is one that has earned it.

Here’s how the Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries spirits performed at the 2023 Ultimate Spirits Challenge:

  • Boyd & Blair The Blood Orange Cosmo Vodka with Blood Orange, Cranberry & Lime, Category: Ready-to-Drink. Score: 99. Awards: Chairman’s Trophy, Great Value, Top 100. 
  • Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, Category: Vodka. Score: 97. Awards: Chairman’s Trophy, Great Value, Top 100. 
  • Boyd & Blair The Keystone Tea Vodka with Black Tea & Lemon, Category: Ready-to-Drink Cocktail. Score: 95. Awards: Finalist, Great Value. 
  • Boyd & Blair Silver Rum, Category: Rum. Score: 94. Awards: Finalist, Great Value
  • Boyd & Blair The Grapefruit Mule Vodka with Ginger & Lime. Category: Ready-to-Drink Cocktail. Score: 93. Awards: Finalist, Great Value.

What’s next for Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries? Lucky for us, they have signed an exclusive national contract with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is the world’s preeminent distributor of beverage alcohol, and a multi-generational, family-owned company with operations in 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Managing sales of the Boyd & Blair brands will be Craft & Art Wine and Spirits (C&A).

“We’re thrilled to be working with the world’s preeminent distributor to take the Boyd & Blair brand to the next level,” said PA Pure’s CEO/Master Distiller Barry Young. “With the addition of C&A support on the sales side, we finally feel we can unlock the true potential of the brand we’ve been carefully building and nurturing over the last several years.”

To learn more visit boydandblair.com.

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Mo Macel

Mo is a pun-loving Pittsburgher who likes to take photos and write. When not focusing on her kiddos, you'll find her pursuing happiness and working on living the American Dream via one craft beer at a time. She blogs at givegodyouryes.com and fullhipster.com.

1 Comment
  1. Now that their spirits are nationwide, does that mean we can finally call it a ‘spiritual awakening’ in Pittsburgh? Cheers to Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries for turning potatoes into liquid gold and making Pittsburgh the ultimate destination for sports and spirits.

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