CHICAGO – Steric Systems was named the grand winner of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States’ (DISCUS) “Innovation Showcase” competition at the 2023 DISCUS Annual Conference in Chicago.
Steric Systems CEO Bill Fay presented the company’s innovative proprietary technology during the Shark Tank-style competition, which was held in a live virtual three-part event prior to the conference. The technology, which uses electromagnetic energy, modifies spirits on a molecular level to reduce alcohol burn and harshness, balance flavors and improve mouth feel of aged and unaged products without adding or filtering out anything.
The second place winner was Brother Justus, presented by the company’s Founder and CEO Phil Steger, for inventing the first cold-peated whiskey and the cold-peating “Aitkin County Process™.” The process, which involves filtration and infusion of peat into the finished product, keeps the peat in its solid form, rather than burning it. This environmentally responsible process eliminates greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter pollution while increasing living peatlands.
Third place was awarded to Voodoo Scientific, presented by the company’s CEO Martin Enriquez and Chief Science Officer Joana Montenegro, for its Firewater™ enzyme that can be added during the fermentation process to target and eliminate select compounds that cause a negative “bite.” The product is designed to work with all spirits types and does not affect any other flavor components.
“It was incredible to see the true entrepreneurial spirit, grit and determination of the companies competing in this year’s Innovation Showcase,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of DISCUS and Responsibility.org. “These companies are on the cutting-edge, developing technologies that will advance the spirits sector by supporting new product development and creating a more sustainable future for distilling.”
The Spearhead Group CEO Heather Fritzsche, who presented the awards today at the conference, added, “This year’s Innovation Showcase celebrates the truly impressive, state-of-the-art products that will define the future of distilling and inspire a whole new generation. It’s an honor to recognize the creative minds revolutionizing the spirits industry who also place sustainability at the forefront of every endeavor.”
Nine finalists were selected to compete in the Innovation Showcase sponsored by DISCUS partner member and conference Top Shelf sponsor The Spearhead Group.
The finalists were chosen out of more than 25 submissions in categories spanning from spirits packaging, technology, supply chain, sustainability, marketing, structure, responsibility and product development.
Each contestant had 15 minutes to present their innovation in front of a panel of judges and live virtual audience who scored the innovation based on its concept, value, scalability and demonstrated impact.
The judges were Maridel Altmann, director of product compliance at MHW LTD; Brian Christensen, editor & publisher at Artisan Spirit Magazine; Robyn Streisand, founder & CEO at Titanium; and Jackie Summers, founder & CEO at JackFromBrooklyn, Inc. Lana Toler, Marketing & Innovation Manager for The Spearhead Group, moderated the live virtual event.
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.
Other finalists included: Mast Jägermeister, Diverse Powered Brands, Bioenergy Devco, ISCO Spirits, The Central Standard Craft Distillery and Persedo.
First Place Winner Photo: (L-R) Chris Swonger, President and CEO of DISCUS; Bill Fay, CEO of Steric Systems; Heather Fritzsche, CEO of The Spearhead Group
Second Place Winner Photo: (L-R) Heather Fritzsche, CEO of The Spearhead Group; Phil Steger, Founder and CEO of Brother Justus
Third Place Winner Photo: (L-R) Heather Fritzsche, CEO of The Spearhead Group; Joana Montenegro, Chief Science Officer of Voodoo Scientific
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is the leading voice for distilled spirits in the U.S., advocating on legislative, regulatory and public affairs issues impacting the distilled spirits sector at the local, state, federal and international levels. DISCUS members are committed to responsibility and encourage adults who drink to do so in moderation.
The Spearhead Group revolutionizes the industry and redefines how packaging and brand work together to deliver a more memorable buyer experience. Through exclusive partnerships with expert pioneers in global Physical Brand Enhancements™, rethinking the manufacturing process, and refining automation operations, Spearhead delivers fast and efficient results. Spearhead is committed to supporting other women-owned businesses and offering sustainable Physical Brand Enhancements™ for clients while creating a better brand experience for consumers.