Illinois Craft Distilleries Will Compete for the Title of Best State Whiskey at Heartland Whiskey Competition

Lindsay Mitchell

Apr 30, 2021  |  Today's News |  Public Outreach

Illinois Craft Distilleries Will Compete for Title of Best State Whiskey at Heartland Whiskey Competition

- IL Corn sponsors competition that will include multiple corn whiskey categories along with Illinois Best;

- American Craft Spirits Association to oversee blind judging and determine state winners, category winners and best of show.

IL Corn announced that the next Heartland Whiskey Competition will take place July 22-23 in Louisville, Kentucky and craft distillers from Illinois are invited to compete. This is the third successive Heartland Whiskey Competition that state corn marketing associations throughout America’s Heartland have come together to sponsor. The biennial contest is sanctioned by the American Craft Spirits Association and strictly limited to craft whiskeys that contain some amount of corn as an ingredient. Any craft distiller in the U.S. is eligible to enter product for judging in several categories. The most coveted awards are “best of state” which are limited to only those 16 states sponsored by their respective corn associations and “best of show”, also limited to sponsor states.


“We are thrilled to once again work with the state corn associations and support a competition that highlights small distilleries in their individual states which this covers approximately 40 percent of all U.S. craft distilleries,” said Margie Lehrman, executive director of ACSA.  “Ours is a rapidly growing industry that requires continual support which corn growers have so graciously provided these last several years. This competition provides craft distilleries – many of which are independent, family-run businesses – a unique opportunity for visibility among consumers and distributors.”


Spirits competitions carry significant weight in the spirits industry, as award medals are often the reason a consumer purchases a product at retail. Illinois distillers have performed well in previous Heartland Whiskey competitions, earning several coveted medals. Most craft distilleries use corn mash sourced locally to make their product.


ACSA will select judges from accomplished mixologists who have experience with craft spirits. The actual judging will occur July 22 and 23 and winners will be announced in early August.