The complete official list
Um, if you arent listed here and should be, please let us know!
Certified Master Slivovitz Judges
The highest honor ISTA can bestow is the Certification of a Master Slivovitz Judge. There are only ever three alive, and the entire membersip must decide, usually at the wake of a former CMSJ. Why three? (um, it's deeply symbolic of something, but we were drinking Slivovitz at a wake and can't quite recall what it is.) Anyway, it's just three, and you are not elegible if you're implicated in the suspicious death of the CMSJ (the JourneyJudge in the Library with a Slivovitz bottle for example.).
Bill Radosevich - Certified Master Slivovitz Judge Emeritus -
Jerry Kortesmaki - Certified Master Slivovitz Judge
Dale Kleinschmidt - Certified Master Slivovitz Judge
Dr. Steve Radosevich, MD - Certified Master Slivovitz Judge
Master Slivovitz Judges
Becoming a Master Slivovitz Judge takes years of practice, an educated palate and extensive vocabulary, and the unanimous vote of the other Master Judges. It's not something you can ask for, even though that doesn't stop people. As Grand Master Gian Cossa stated, “every journeyman’s path is different, and customized to their distinct needs in traversing towards slivovitz enlightenment.”
Gian Cossa - Master Slivovitz Judge, host of the Washington, D.C. Festival
Pete Radosevich - Slivovitz Judge, host of the US Slivovitz Festival
Chrissy D - Slivovitz Judge, host of the New York City Festival
Brent Bushnell - originator of our scoring system, and probably the most precise of our palates. Unfortunately, he's more devoted to his family than to Slivovitz so we don't see him at many festivals. Fortunately, that means that I get to "deliver" his sample bottles to him!
Dash Adams - Commercial Fisherman, Writer for Cracked.com, FAA Air Traffic Controller (feel safe?), and some sort of secret agent for the military. (He keeps trying to tell us what he does just so he has to kill us.)
Did I miss anyone?
Once you know your Slivovitz, and can hold your own in a spirited tasting session, you're ready to consider joining the ranks of Official Slivovitz Judges.
Ariel Roth is our newest Slivovitz Judge. We're ignoring his heretical appreciation for apricot and cherry brandies, since it did train his palate to appreciate a properly fermented stone fruit. His picture is here because he promised to bring Gian a bottle from his pending visit to R. Jelinek.
Kathy R - who refuses to use her last name because it's harder to spell than Slivovitz.
Apprentice Judge (JourneyJudge)
Almost as easy as joining ISTA, becoming a JourneyJudge is as simple as saying the words out loud during a tasting session. "I want to become a Slivovitz Judge." Some people are happy to be JourneyJudges for years. It's easy, and we don't expect you to bring a bottle. A mandatory step in becoming a JourneyJudge is to find a new Slivovitz for the collection. We'll handle inviting the distiller to the Festival and Competition, you just need to find a distiller that we've never heard of. (Ask Bill for the list.)
We host an annual training for potential judges every year. You get to sip selections from our collections carefully chosen to illustrate specific characteristics. For example, right now we're using:
Balance - Clear Creek's Blue Plum Brandy is our standard for a Slivovitz that perfectly balances bite, flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel.
Pit Bite - Zusy, when we can get it. Prava, if it's available. Our choice for illustrating pit bite changes each year.
Skin Notes - Badel 1862 is currently the standard for training judges to identify that hint of tartness contributed by the skin of ripe plums.
Mouthfeel - Castle Spirits Gold Shot has one of the softest profiles we've tried in a while.
Aroma - Koenig Distillery's Plum Brandy is our favorite example for it's outstanding aroma.
Aging - R. Jelinek's 12 year old wood aged Slivovitz - contrasted with it's 5 year Clear - is how we'll demonstrate the change that occurs when you age a good Slivovitz.