Tapi USA and Southern Glazer finish in top three

Devil’s Cask was named the grand winner of the Distilled Spirits Council’s (DISCUS) Innovation Showcase competition during the awards presentation at the 2024 DISCUS annual conference in San Diego.

As part of the awards ceremony, Devil’s Cask’s President and CEO Jeremy Grunewald and teammates showcased the company’s SpiritLock Technology, a fluid vapor barrier that can be applied to the exterior surface of wooden casks used in the maturation process of barrel-aged spirits. This functions to reduce the evaporation of ethanol and water vapors from escaping out of the cask, decreasing angels’ share and barrel leaks. Importantly, this process occurs without affecting the flavor profile of the maturing spirit.

Tapi USA took second place for its innovative bottle closures made from reused sawdust waste. Leah Hutchinson, Tapi’s regional sales manager, accepted the award for the new closure product that allows for the reduction of virgin plastic in the company’s plastic heads by 30% by utilizing a sawdust by-product collected in-house. So far, more than 10 million pieces of sawdust closures have been produced, saving more than 37 tons of plastic. Not only do Tapi’s sawdust closures reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions, but the texture, color and design are completely customizable.

Third place was awarded to Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits (SGWS), for its clean energy approach to delivering wine and spirits. SGWS Vice President of Operations Mark Koslow accepted the award for how SGWS utilizes electric vehicles fitted with an electric reefer system and reusable insulated boxes for transportation and delivery of products. The electric reefer system maintains optimal temperatures for the wine and spirits while the reusable insulated boxes cut down on single-use packaging typically used for safe transportation of delicate bottles.

“Every year we are amazed and inspired by the groundbreaking innovations presented by companies across the spirits industry,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of DISCUS and Responsibility.org. “The 2024 nominees were no exception, demonstrating how cutting-edge technology and a commitment to sustainability can converge to create industry innovation and positive change. “

Nine finalists were selected to compete in the Innovation Showcase sponsored by DISCUS partner member The Spearhead Group. The finalists were chosen out of more than 32 submissions in categories spanning from spirits packaging, technology, supply chain, sustainability, marketing, structure, responsibility and product development.

Other finalists included Vigate, Elephant Amaro, Arbikie, Marabu, Dexter Bourbon and NINA.

Prior to the conference, each finalist had 15 minutes to present as part of a live virtual competition their innovation in front of a panel of judges who scored the innovation based on its concept, value, scalability and demonstrated impact.

The judges were Brian Christensen, editor and publisher at Artisan Spirit Magazine; Steve Brown, vice president of commercial finance at Pronghorn; Samantha (Sam) Montgomery, chief operations officer at Kentucky Straight Ice; and April Wachtel, founder of Cheeky Cocktails

The first-, second- and third-place winners received prize packages ranging in value from $5,000 to $20,000 including a $10,000 cash prize for the showcase winner.

“The Innovation Showcase always aims to applaud remarkable products that are set to shape the distilling landscape and ignite a fresh wave of inspiration,” said the Spearhead Group CEO Heather Fritzsche, who presented the awards today at the conference. “It is a privilege to acknowledge the innovative thinkers transforming the spirits industry, with a dedicated commitment to prioritizing sustainability in their efforts.”

An image of the winner can be downloaded here.