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American Craft Distilleries Vie For ‘Best State Whiskey’ Title

A host of state corn associations are putting together the 2023 Heartland Whiskey Competition, slated for Aug. 1-2 in St. Louis, Mo.

This is the fourth biennial Heartland Whiskey Competition that state corn marketing associations have sponsored.

A statement from the American Craft Spirits Association noted that this judged competition is sanctioned by the association and limited to craft whiskeys that contain some amount of corn as an ingredient.

Heartland Whiskey Competition
A host of state corn associations are putting together the 2023 Heartland Whiskey Competition, slated for Aug. 1-2 in St. Louis, Mo. (image via American Craft Spirits Association)

Any craft distiller in the U.S. is eligible to enter products for judging in multiple whiskey categories (such as bourbon, bottled in bond, rye, etc.). The “Best of State” awards are limited to only those states sponsored by their respective corn associations. “Best of Show” represents the top scoring whiskey across all categories, and it’s also limited to sponsored states.

The statement notes that new for the 2023 competition is a national, “cross-category” award: Top Farmer-Distiller. The top-scoring whisky across all categories that is produced by a distillery whose owners operate a working farm will garner this award.

“We are pleased that as our craft spirits industry expanded, the number of craft distillers has grown by 54% since the inaugural 2017 competition,” said Margie A.S. Lehrman, CEO of the association. “Corn growers across the heartland have stood behind us and sponsored this important competition.”

She said that most craft distilleries source corn grown nearby for their mash, and that amount has grown considerably in recent years.

“It’s exciting to add a new award for best farmer-distiller which recognizes the critical relationship of our two, overlapping industries,” she added.

The Craft Spirits Association will select judges from accomplished industry professionals and mixologists who have demonstrated experience with craft spirits. The actual judging takes place Aug. 2nd.

The participating state corn marketing associations that collectively sponsor the 2023 Heartland Whiskey Competition and state-level competitions in 21 states represent more than 75% of all U.S. craft distillers. They are:

  • Colorado Corn Growers Association
  • Illinois Corn Marketing Board
  • Indiana Corn Growers Association
  • Iowa Corn Promotion Board
  • Kansas Corn Growers Association
  • Kentucky Corn Growers Association
  • Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board
  • Corn Marketing Program of Michigan
  • Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council
  • Missouri Corn Merchandising Council
  • Nebraska Corn Board
  • New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association
  • Corn Growers Association of North Carolina
  • Ohio Corn Marketing Program
  • Pennsylvania Corn Growers Association
  • Texas Corn Producers
  • Tennessee Corn Promotion Board
  • Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board

For more information about the competition, check out

Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether that be a novel project, a start-up, an organization, a fresh-face to the journalistic world, or even something as simple as a short story. A native Texan and a Pacific Northwest convert, he is a whiskey enthusiast who cut his teeth on it ... literally!

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