Pelican Harbor Light and Pelican Harbor Black Rums Win Gold at 2018 World Spirit Awards

BAD KLEINKIRCHEIM, AUSTRIA March 25th, 2018 – Southern Champion was awarded 5 winning medals for their spirits at the 2018 World Spirit Awards in Austria. Gold medals went to XIII Kings Vodka, Pelican Harbor Light Rum, Pelican Harbor Black Rum and Crooked Fox Blended Bourbon Whiskey, and Andrew John’s Gin scored a Silver.

The industry expert judges hailed Southern Champion’s spirits for their strength of character, smooth aromas, balance and superior taste. Founded by former skier turned spirit evangelist Wolfram Ortner, the WSA judges still rate spirts in competition according to Ortner’s scoring system, which includes two categories for fragrance, two for taste, and a fifth for harmony.

The WSA is dubbed the “World Championships” of spirits by industry insiders. Only 450 spirits from around the world reached the official tasting in Austria where medals were awarded. Southern Champion’s five wins at this year’s WSA attest to their passion for making some of the world’s finest spirits, enjoyed by consumers and expert judges alike.

Sheba Khodadad, PR
6 Degrees Deep

Pelican Harbor Rum Strikes Again at MicroLiquor Spirit Awards

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – January 19, 2018. For the third year in a row, Southern Champion, home of Buzzballz, makes a huge statement at the MicroLiquor Spirits Awards in November 2017 with its own spirit lines.

Triple Gold medals were awarded to both Andrew John’s Gin and Pelican Harbor Light Rum for their exquisite tastes and standards of excellent quality. Crooked Fox Blended Bourbon Whiskey and XIII Kings Vodka both left the awards with Gold medals. Pelican Harbor Black Rum received a Silver medal.

Andrew John’s Gin won a Gold medal in the packaging competition for its sleek, clean bottle that portrays an upscale earthy, grass-like essence. XIII Kings Vodka received a Silver medal in the packaging competition, while Pelican Harbor Light Rum and Crooked Fox Blended Bourbon Whiskey both left with Bronze medals.

The MicroLiquor Spirit Awards is the World’s Premier International Spirits Competition for small and emerging brands. The competition brings in hundreds of different brands from around the world to compete for the top medals, specifically, a triple gold medal. The MicroLiquor Awards recognizes the triple gold spirits based on extraordinary taste and the highest standard of quality and excellence, and receive the highest recommendations in the competition.

One of the world’s most distinguished agencies for alcohol beverage package design, Flowdesign, is responsible for judging the packaging competition. The competition is based on brand concept, logo and brand identity, brand story, graphics, typography, style and legibility, and overall design among other things.

The MicroLiquor Spirit Awards is the world’s first spirits competition for small brands. Stealing some of the top honors, Southern Champion is coming home with bragging rights and nine new medals.

Pelican Harbor Rum Can’t be Stopped

ENCINO, CA – December 15, 2017. Crooked Fox Blended Bourbon Whiskey and Pelican Harbor Black Rum receive major recognition by The Tasting Panel, the nation’s leading beverage publication that reaches over 90,000 industry professionals. Hundreds of spirits are sent in each month by companies across the world in hopes of being reviewed by the prestigious panel of judges, who only review a handful of spirits per month.

Pelican Harbor Black Rum receives a majorly successful rating of 93 points, an A in the eyes of the Tasting Panel. The judges note that the black rum carries tastes such as, “Blackstrap molasses melds with pronounced aromas of green apple and clover honey. On the palate, a creamy layer of vanilla extract and honey wheat bread entry showcasing some dry tannins. Mid-palate to finish, it takes flight with a cocoa biscuit-y intensity to a smooth-as-silk landing. Complex and noteworthy.”

Crooked Fox Bourbon receives a huge rating of 92 points, which is also the equivalent to an A on the Tasting Panel scale. The panel of judges give notes on the American blended whiskey stating, “Orange peel and nectarine greet the nose with a hint of pine sap and other woodsy qualities. This fox is approachable – no growls and certainly no bites, but a sensual nature that permeates the palate. Dry on the finish, with black plum, peach and toffee, and a touch of tobacco leaf. God our ears perked up!”

The Tasting Panel Magazine is the largest circulated trade publication in the beverage industry that reaches thousands of key decision-makers across the United States and is still growing and thriving on an international scale. “The Tasting Panel continues to help shape opinion, influence beverage buying decision-makers, and enhance the joy of wine and spirits for the trade and the public.” (

Millie Flowers, Marketing Coordinator
Southern Champion

Kick Wins 2018 Enterprising Women of the Year Award

RALEIGH, N.C. –  December 12, 2018. Merrilee Kick, Owner and President of Southern Champion and BuzzBallz, won the Enterprising Women of the Year Award, joining the 2018 class of honorees. Kick was selected from a global field of nominees representing hundreds of entrepreneurs from across many industries and countries. She joins a select group of winners in the $10 to $25 million annual revenue category.

The award, widely regarded as the most coveted prize for women business leaders, recognizes women who steer fast-growing businesses, actively mentor and support other women in business and show leadership for good in their communities. Monica Smiley, publisher and CEO of Enterprising Women said, “We could not be more proud to recognize their accomplishments as CEOs of fast-growth companies, community leaders, and role models and mentors to other women and girls.”

Kick built a thriving wine and spirits empire from her own backyard. She continues to create opportunities for her employees, for her fellow Texans and others worldwide with Southern Champion brands now expanded to Asia. Her drive, dedication and business acumen is evident in her success and stature in her industry and community.

Kick and all the Enterprising Women of the Year will be honored at a gala on March 6, 2018 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami marking the end of the 16th Annual Enterprising Women of the Year Awards Celebration & Conference.

Sheba Khodadad, Public Relations

6 Degrees Deep


Southern Champion Appoints Blair Casey as Vice President of Sales & Marketing

Carrollton, Texas – August 8, 2017. Southern Champion proudly announced the naming of Blair Casey as their Vice President of Sales and Marketing. The seasoned industry veteran joined the company in May and hit the ground running, developing and executing innovative sales and marketing strategies to drive company growth, build consumer relationships, and strengthen the sales team.

Blair brings a wealth of talent and industry relationships to his role at Southern Champion. He started in the industry in 1990 as a Sales Representative for Julius Schepps Wholesale Liquors based in Dallas and moved up to Gallo, first as Field Marketing Manager and then as Director of Customer Development. Following the merger of ‪Southern Wine & Spirits of America and Glazer’s, Blair was named Corporate Vice President of Supplier Management. In that role, he managed E&J Gallo Winery and supported regional suppliers to meet aggressive goals for both suppliers’ businesses and Southern Glazer’s.

With 27 years of experience, 13 years at Gallo and a combined 14 years in wholesale, Blair is passionate about leveraging his expertise to build a dynamic team at a young, hungry company that thrives on winning. Although he formally joined Southern Champion in May 2017, his history with founder Merrilee Kick dates to her start in the spirits industry. In 2010, when Merrilee was launching her first line of products, Blair saw a fun, driven spirit with a great business plan, and helped her move 40,000 cases of product in just one year. His energy and ability to bring out the best in both people and product is already paying dividends for the sales team and the company as a whole.

In addition to his role at Southern Champion, Blair is a champion husband and father of three. He enjoys hitting the links, exploring the outdoors, and playing and coaching a variety of sports. Blair holds a BBA in marketing from Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University.

Sheba Khodadad, Public Relations

6 Degrees Deep