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Let the spirit move you to try these award winners

Heaven Hill Distilleries' Rittenhouse Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey, Very Rare 23 Year Old was named the Top Rye Whisk(e)y in the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The file photo above shows Heaven Hill master distiller Parker Beam.

Heaven Hill Distilleries' Rittenhouse Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey, Very Rare 23 Year Old was named the Top Rye Whisk(e)y in the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The file photo above shows Heaven Hill master distiller Parker Beam.

What better way to introduce yourself to a new spirit than to sample the “best” in a given category.

One way to find the best is to consider the results of last month’s eighth annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

In all, 25 judges tasted 847 spirits from 63 countries in 439 brand classifications, according to the competition’s official Web site.

Here is a rundown of the winners, based on a press release from event organizers, including where appropriate the price given by the entrant per 750-milliliter bottle. Note that its Whisk(e)y categories combine Scotch whisky and other whiskeys.:

• Distiller of the Year Buffalo Trace Distillery (Kentucky)

• Importer of the Year Moët Hennessy USA (New York, N.Y.)

• Best in Show – White Weber Haus, Silver Cachaça (Brazil) (no price available)

• Best in Show – Whisk(e)y Highland Park 12-year-old Single Malt Scotch (Scotland) ($40)

• Best in Show – Brandy Loujan 1979 Armagnac (France) ($105)

• Best in Show – Liqueur Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur (France) ($30)

• Top Absinthe (new category) Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe (France) (NPA)

• Top Vodka Snow Queen Vodka (Kazakhstan) ($29)

• Top Gin Plymouth Gin (England) ($30)

• Top Rum Matusalem Gran Reserva Rum (Dominican Republic) ($32)

• Top Tequila AsomBroso Silver Tequila (Mexico) ($45)

• Top Reposado Tequila El Tesoro Platinum Tequila (Mexico) ($40)

• Top Añejo Tequila Siete Leguas Añejo Tequila (Mexico) ($50)

• Top Extra-Aged Añejo Tequila Don Julio Extra-Aged Añejo Tequila (Mexico) ($350)

• Top Irish Whiskey Jameson Rare Vintage Irish Whiskey (Ireland) ($250)

• Top Rye Whisk(e)y Rittenhouse Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey, Very Rare 23 Year Old (Kentucky) ($170)

• Top Blended Scotch Chivas Regal 25 Year Old Scotch (Scotland) ($299)

• Top Bourbon Pappy Van Winkle Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Reserve 20 Year Old (Kentucky) ($100)

• Top Cognac Hennessy Cognac Paradis Extra (France) ($320)

• Top Fruit Liqueur Cointreau Orange Liqueur (France) ($34)

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IN TUCSON

These Tucson liquor stores likely are your best bets for finding some of the competition’s winners. Prices may vary considerably. You may want to call ahead, or order online.

AJ’S FINE FOODS 2805 E. Skyline Drive, 232-6340

BEVMO! 6228 E. Broadway, Suite 100, 514-0695

MAGEE ROAD LIQUORS 7980 N. Oracle Road, 297-9113

PLAZA LIQUORS AND FINE WINES 2642 N. Campbell Ave., 327-0452

RUMRUNNER WINE & CHEESE CO. 3131 E. First St., 326-0121

THE BEVERAGE HOUSE • 6250 N. Oracle Road, 219-6424, • 4231 E. 22nd Street, Suite 141, 323-6566, and • 8660 E. Broadway, 296-9933

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