On March 31, Chilled Magazine attended WSWA, the 76th Annual Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Convention & Exposition in Grande Lakes Orlando, Florida.

The convention showcased innovative new wine and spirits products from around the world, exciting mixology and tasting competitions, and helpful industry trends and educational seminars to help businesses seize new opportunities in the year ahead.

We were thrilled to be the media partner for the first-ever Master Mixology Class on the exciting inaugural Retailer and Consumer Day. This event offered advanced cocktail training for those in the industry or for anyone who wanted to learn to mix like a pro. After the TED-like talk on bartender trends, Chilled made its way over to the gin demonstration taught by Natalia Cardenas, Breakthru Beverage Group’s beverage development manager.

On Monday, April 1, four rock star Chilled 100 Ambassadors worked the center bar of the Opening Night Reception. These bartenders included Meaghan Leonard, head bartender at Restaurant Orsay in Jacksonville; Robert Mercier, bartender at The Robinson in Orlando; Greg Goldstein, general manager of Catch 27 in St. Augustine; and Peter Hannah, bartender at Walt Disney World. The two-hour reception was one of the primary social events of the convention.

At the general session, rap icon and actor Ice-T delivered spirited remarks, which also featured the presentation of the Lifetime Leadership Award to Mel Dick, senior vice president and wine division president at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. Chilled also had time to explore the packed exhibit halls and suites that were showcasing innovate products from around the world. We were able to catch up with the trending brands in the industry and find out what makes them successful. Here are some of the standouts we came across this year.

Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey

Sagamore Spirit takes a unique approach to make their brand successful. “I believe it comes down to the authenticity of our story and great juice,” says marketing director Marcus Stephens. “People love true stories. Maryland played an important role in American distilling history, and today you can come to Baltimore to visit our distillery and farm, feel the history and passion, and even drink the limestone-rich water straight from our spring house. Going forward, we plan to continue to inspire a global passion for Maryland Rye Whiskey with great product, while working to make sure the complete story of American distilling is told with tools like Whiskey.wiki.”

Garcia Carrión

“Innovation is at the core of everything we do at Garcia Carrión, from our wine brands to juices and other top-quality specialty food products,” said Tom Bernth, national sales manager for Garcia Carrión-CIV USA. “Our president, José Garcia Carrión (Don José), believes in delivering the best quality at the best price. We have a saying at the company: ‘Innovate or die.’ We typically open our meetings with a theme, and this always seems to come full circle in everything we do.”

Chilled was very impressed with the launch of Vermut La Chica De Hoy, which is quite versatile and can be sipped over ice with an orange peel or mixed into a cocktail.

Edgewater Spirits

Edgewater Spirits now has two award-winning spirits: Wódka Vodka of Poland and Harleston Green Scotch Whisky of Scotland. Both are leaders in their categories. At Edgewater Spirits, industry experience and knowledge give the company the right tools to create, develop, and support brands that inspire.

Broken Shed Vodka

“Broken Shed Vodka from New Zealand has the perfect combination of a great taste, an authentic backstory, a beautiful package, and an experienced team that is passionate about the product,” said Broken Shed CMO Jean-Marie Heins. “Broken Shed’s clean, nuanced flavor profile is a direct result of the blend of pure New Zealand waters we use and the quality of our base distillate, combined with the fact we do not use anything else in the vodka. We are continuing to explore how we can work with the bartending community to educate the consumer that the vodka they choose makes a difference, whether they are drinking a Martini or other cocktail.”

Brockmans Gin

“Brockmans Gin inspires creativity, as it offers so many complex and exciting botanical notes,” said Bob Fowkes, Brockmans Gin co-founder and marketing director. Be on the lookout for the launch of the 2019 Brockmans World Gin Day Competition.

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

Gunpowder Irish Gin believes in bringing unrelated things together for the first time and seeing the possibilities that others don’t. That takes a willingness to set aside the tried and tested solutions and venture into uncharted territory. If you saw the Bentley Drumshanbo was serving gin out of, you’d know what we mean.

Roc House Brands

Roc House brands has expanded its roster of spirits in its portfolio, including Cask & Crew Whiskey, Pink Lemon Liqueur, Recipe 21, and Tuttobello Limoncello.

St. Killian Importing

St. Killian is a full-service importer, providing all 50 states with world-class beers and malt beverages from around the globe. St Killian imports an array of spirits and beer, but a few that stood out to us were 123 Organic Tequila, Gin Mare, Boxer Gin, and Prizefight Irish Whiskey.

Drake’s Organic Spirits

Minneapolis-based Drake’s Organic Spirits was launched in 2017, and it uses the highest-quality USDA organic and Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients to create a line of ultra- premium organic liquors. Drake’s Organic Vodka, Organic White Rum, and Organic Spiced Rum offer no grains, no gluten, no GMOs, and 12-times distilled handcrafted spirits at a better price than the leading premium brands. Drake’s Organic Mixes and Organic Spiked Ice complement its health and wellness offerings for adult beverages.

CAMUS Cognac

Distillation is an essential stage in producing Cognac, and CAMUS is marked by an ongoing quest for aromatic finesse. CAMUS offers an array of expressions, including Elegance, Borderies, and Family Legacy, all of which are presented in a beautifully designed bottle.