The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin
This has been another good year for Gin. The Spirit has become more than just a base for Gin and Tonics and Martinis; it has become part of the cocktail revolution which is underway on both sides of the Atlantic (and threatening to cross the Pacific as well.) In fact, it could be said that walking side by side with the Cocktail Revolution is a new Gin Revolution. While London Dry Gin still dominates the landscape of juniper, we are at the forefront of the development of new variations upon the pinene theme. I see varieties of gin aged in oak (see review here); I see specialized flavoured gins (see review here); and I see distillers experimenting with local botanicals and spices in an effort to bring new taste profiles forward (see review here). We are even witnessing the resurrection of an heretofore almost forgotten styles of gin (see review here). (I am thinking of course of Old Tom Gin which was for all intents and purposes replaced by London Dry Gin with the advent of the Coffey still; but which is now making inroads into that cocktail revolution as bartenders and mixologists are rediscovering ancient cocktail recipes which call for Old Tom.)
My Gin Awards for 2013 are larger than ever. In all, fifteen different gins were considered for awards in each of my categories; these spirits being the gins I reviewed over the past two years (contrary to what you might believe, I do not consume my entire bottle when I sample them for my reviews; I taste the spirit, build a few cocktails, and then put aside the remainder for my Rum Howler Awards at the end of the year). Additional samples from industry are provided specifically for my awards as well.
This year, I invited one of my gin loving friends to help me in the judging process which occurred during two lazy Sundays in September. Each spirit was served in three cocktails (Grange Cocktail, Gin and Tonic, and a Dry Gin Martini) as well as served neat with no ice.
And without further ado, it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Gin. These Awards are for the best Gin Spirits, I encountered in the year 2013.
- The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Gin Value
and the winner is:
Runner-up award to: Tanqueray London Dry Gin
Honourable Mention to: Broker’s Premium London Dry Gin (40 %ABV)
I judged this competition in head to head tastings, serving each Gin in the three aforementioned cocktails, (as well as serving a small sample of each spirit neat). Afterwards we selected the spirit which we felt gave us the best bang for our buck, factoring the cost of each spirit into our considerations. The winner of this category would be the best gin for a budget conscious individual.
For the second year in a row, the winner was the little known Sahara Dry Gin which is produced in a batch style process by Highwood Distillers. The Sahara Dry carries a soft, dry finish into my favourite cocktails which is very appealing. I think it is a gem of a gin.
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for the Best Mixing Gin
and the winner is:
Runner-up award to: Citadelle Gin
For this category, I was only concerned with what made the best cocktails. I did not consider price, and I did not consider the performance of any of the spirits as sippers. I gave each cocktail equal weight in the process, and determined my award winners from my friend and I’s scores.
The results were very close; however in a bit of an upset, Hayman’s Old Tom narrowly defeated Citadelle as the best mixing gin. Tanqueray and Beefeater 24 earned honourable mentions.
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Sipping Gin
and the winner is:
Runner-up award to: Citadelle Reserve Gin
A new category for my Gin Awards this year is the award for the Best Sipping Gin. Although gin is not a traditional Sipping spirit I have noticed that some of the new styles of gin are delightful to sippers.
The choice for best sipping gin came down to an aged gin from France (Citadelle Reserve) and a madly constructed gin from Germany which uses no less than 47 botanicals in its construction. Madness ruled the day, and the Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin was selected as the best sipper. Beefeater 24, and Hayman’s Old Tom were also strong candidates earning honourable mentions.
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Gin
and the winner is:
For this category, half the score was based upon the taste of the constructed cocktails, and half the score was based upon the performance of the gin when served neat.
It was basically a three-way contest between Beefeater 24, Citadelle and the aged Citadelle Reserve. Tanqueray and Hayman’s Old Tom were also strong contenders.
After two delightfully lazy Sunday’s and then going through all of the scoring, I awarded the title of Rum Howler 2013 – Best Overall Gin, to Citadelle Gin.
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Gin Value: Sahara Dry Gin
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Mixing Gin: Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Sipping Gin: Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Gin: Citadelle Gin
The 2013 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Gin Value: Tanqueray London Dry Gin
The 2013 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Mixing Gin: Citadelle Gin
The 2013 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Sipping Gin: Citadelle Reserve Gin
The Honourable Mentions:
The 2013 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Gin Value: Broker’s Premium London Dry Gin (40 %ABV)