Welcome the Judges of the PR%F Awards

Officially named the world’s largest spirits and wine competition in the US, PR%F Awards, judges travel across the US to taste and rate spirits, wines, and beverages in a proprietary 100-point rating competition Each judge is a key buyer and decision maker in the spirits/wine industries and comes from different facets of the industry: distributors, retail, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, resorts, airlines, liquor stores, box chains, and online distributors.

PR%F Awards 2021 launched a new dual adult beverage competition format to include two competitions in one—PR%F Awards-Masked, The Double-Blind Tasting, and PR%F Awards-Unmasked, The Total Package. 

After tasting points are accumulated, the distinguished panel of judges (all buyers) will evaluate each brand unmasked, showing their naked contents. Judges will see and feel the bottle, can, or product, read the ingredients, and see the overall marketing package (look, feel, and approach) the brands want to convey to the patron.

This prestigious honor for winners selected by beverage industry buyers is the ultimate competition with more than 300 categories. PR%F Awards thanks all of its judges and showcases the experts that participate.


Chris Motley, Beverage Specialist/Buyer 

Liquor World Las Vegas

Chris Motley has 12 years of experience in retail beer, wine, and spirits sales and promotions in Denver and Las Vegas. As a Spirits Specialist, his areas of expertise are in whiskeys, Caribbean rum, and agave spirits. A big focus of his career has been in single-barrel selections, and he has traveled often to Kentucky and Mexico to make these selections. 

“I am also what I like to call a ‘Cocktail Historian’ and am more into that type of presentation than I am a mixologist, having performed presentations and tasting classes for groups from 25 to 300. I have also created and produced numerous festivals of spirits and beers from capacities of 500 to 1500,” explains Chris.


What did you find different during this year’s judging?

Chris Motley: I’ve judged other’s competitions across the nation, and although many rate bottles in a similar way, PR%F Awards offers an up close and personal experience to learn about the brands that enter. The biggest difference here is the second day, with all of the spirits on display for all to see, with the packaging. I really enjoyed this part of the judging, but I would have liked a little more time to assess all of the items properly.


What did you think of the uncovered portion of the judging?

Chris Motley: The uncovered portion is really cool. It’s great to be able to see the full package, as that’s so important in retail. I think, though, to ask all of the judges to attempt to judge all those items quickly is a bit much to do in one day. I tried to check out as many as I could but wound up only gravitating to items that interested me.


What trends did you experience during this year’s judging?

Chris Motley: The biggest trends I saw with this competition were special-casked or extra wood-finished American whiskeys. The other, of course, was seltzers and RTDs. Way too many of these on the shelves, but they keep selling, so what do I know lol. 


Alice Itsell

AJ’s Fine Foods

Alice Itsell’s current experience with Bashas’/AJ’s Fine Foods has extended for 28 years. She started with the Bashas’ format as a store department clerk and then expanded to the AJ’s Fine Foods format as a Wine Steward. As her education and experience grew, she shifted to the warehouse as a liquor merchandiser and traveled the state of Arizona, visiting stores and doing resets, merchandising, and training. This gave Alice extended experience in each of the formats: Conventional, Gourmet/Specialty, and Hispanic format.

Alice is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a bachelor of science in Business Administration. She has a WAFC certificate from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. 

“Certifications support my hands-on industry knowledge from the Society of Wine Educators with a CSW, WSET I, and WSET II, as well as the first level course from the Court of Master Sommelier,” says Alice.


What did you find different during this year’s judging?

Alice Itsell: The 2021 PR%F Awards was my first visit judging experience for the PR%F awards event. I was very excited to be invited to participate in this event. As a retail buyer, we have limited access or ability to be invited to these types of events. 


What did you think of the uncovered portion of the judging?

Alice Itsell: I participated in judging the wine portion of the event. I thought the process of tasting the products “Blind” combined with the second day of sampling “Uncovered” was a very revealing experience. The “Blind” tasting section was an education in focusing on the character and elements of the category or varietal. The “Uncovered” sampling was revealing and challenging. During this process, one has to balance their preconceived notions of quality, value, and presentation. How best these products will sell depends on the channel, retail, or restaurant. It is always fun to find that real winner within the mix. 

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 What trends did you experience during this year’s judging?

Alice Itsell: The new trends were limited due to the number of selections presented for the wines. The flavored wine category had new flavors, ranging from traditional berry (blueberry, raspberry) to tropical (mixed tropical, Mango). Red Blends continue to fill the market with great success. 

The PR%F Awards are heating up and to accommodate top buyers, the date to submit has been extended. Proof Awards 2022 will be held in November.

Don’t lose the opportunity of getting your brand in front of our many judges, all beverage buyers from across the US. Enter your SKU, and you automatically go into two separate competitions—PR%F Awards Masked, the coveted double-blind tasting competition, and PR%F Awards Unmasked, the total package, where our judges taste and rate your product while evaluating your bottle, price point, look, feel and taste to see if it will be a perfect fit for their shelves. Enter today at  www.proofawards.com.