CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Clearwater-based Big Storm Brewing Co. took on the world of spirits in the "largest and most prestigious spirits competitions in the world" — and made Florida history.
The distillery is making noise for itself after submitting 11 products and walking away with 11 medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition more than a month ago. Now that the results are in, co-owner L.J. Govoni says, "Medals are cool, but we are most excited for feedback."
"We want to see some of those bronze [medals] turn to silver," Govoni says.
In an earlier statement, he said, "Last year, distilleries in Florida won six medals combined, so for Big Storm to win 11 medals on its own is a true testament to our spirits and the hard work of our team.”
The distillery already has major goals set for the future as they tackle other competitions and brew up new selections. When asked about future goals, Govoni said the team is going to "stick to what we are doing every day, stick to our Florida lifestyle; drawing from the coastal experience."
Govoni, a Tampa Bay native, says staying authentic to the brand is important.
Big Storm won silver medals for its Blueberry Vodka, Cherry Vodka, Barrel-Aged Rum, London Dry Gin, Grape Vodka and Raspberry Vodka. The distillery earned bronze medals for its Vanilla Vodka, Lemon Vodka, Neutral Vodka, Clementine Vodka and Silver Rum.
Govoni says their barrel-aged rum is one of the first beverage products they produced between the last batches of hand sanitizer in early 2021.
He says their story cannot be separated from the COVID pandemic. The state of Florida wouldn't give Big Storm a distillery license but once the pandemic hit and Big Storm began making hand sanitizer, Govoni said that eventually, the distillery was able to receive the proper licenses to get started.
“As a team, we had very little experience distilling together and what we put in those initial barrels were the result of long nights spent bonding over our changing business. For that very liquid to win a silver medal shortly after its initial release is simply really cool," the co-owner said in a statement.
“These awards prove we are more than just a craft brewery,” Govoni added during an interview. “We also produce high-quality spirits perfect for any occasion. Big Storm doesn’t just create a product; we create an experience. I think the future is very bright for our spirits.”
The San Francisco World Spirits Competition is the oldest and largest competition of its kind, the news release says. Judging panels are made up of the most respected, experienced experts in the industry. More than 1,500 distilleries competed.
Big Storm finished in the top 1.2% of the medal count and is just one of 18 distilleries to take home more than 10 medals.
Govoni was able to give a glimpse at what is coming up next for Big Storm. He says they are working on something for bourbon lovers, vodka soda drinks and a lime-flavored rum.
Big Storm was founded in 2012 and has four taprooms across the Sunshine State, including Clearwater, Odessa, Cape Coral and Orlando.