Winning the class for liquid honey at the National Honey Show requires true dedication. A past winner said he bought a box of 50 high quality jars, and rejected over 40 of them! The NHS is something quite exceptional, not matched elsewhere in the world. For us mere mortals, such extremes are not necessary, but extreme cleanliness is. Any speck of dirt or pollen grain will carry a penalty.
The first step is to read the rules of the show and adhere strictly to them. Type of jar and lid, labelling, entering the right class for light, medium or dark. If in doubt about this, find someone with the test slips and check according to the instructions.
Aroma and taste are given high marks by any good judge. They are subjective, so in a close contest there could be an element of luck, but the processing of the honey can have a big influence. High temperatures and unnecessary exposure to air degrade the honey to some extent, and should be avoided. So, how to proceed.
First, select a good-tasting batch of frames. A low water content is desirable, the judge will look for high viscosity. Ideally avoid the centrifuge and let enough honey drain out after uncapping. This will conserve aroma and avoid entraining a mass of tiny air bubbles, which are the devil to eliminate. But if you find this impractical you will still have a chance after centrifuging.
The honey should be bright and clear, which means filtering with the finest mesh you can get. Allow the honey to stand in a tank long enough to let the bubbles rise to the surface, then fill your sparkling clean jars carefully to avoid more bubbles.
After a few days carefully inspect your selected jars. Shine a bright torch through the jar to be sure the honey has not started to crystallize - sometimes this process starts after a week or two, even though it may not be completed for months. This is annoying as it cannot be entered for naturally set honey perhaps until another year. Remove the lid (and enjoy the smell) to check the surface of the honey. Shine the torch on the surface, and then shine the beam across the surface from side to side while lookng at the surface from a low angle. You may be surprised and disappointed to see a dense mass of otherwise invisible bubbles on the surface. If this is the case, they have to be skimmed off as best you can, it is not easy. One way is to start with the jar just about full to the brim, as you will remove a lot of honey before you are done. You must be able to top up with (non-aerated) honey as necessary.
If really fine bubbles are not a problem but there are a few bigger ones, these are easily removed for example by just covering them with the tip of a knife and lifting them off.
You may have read the advice to take a clean lid to the show and changing to it before you put the jar on the show bench. This is very bad practice, you will not be penalised if there is unavoidably some honey on the inside of the lid, but you will have lost most of that desirable aroma, and probably have collected dust from the air in the room due to all the activity. Did I say that all processing must be in a dust-free room, if such a thing is possible. Good luck!