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The 2015 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin

RH-winner2015Gin appears to be on the upswing, at least that is the impression I receive when I walk into the local liquor stores. I see dozens of new brands alongside the traditional favourites. One reason for all of these new brands of Gin is closely associated with the upswing another spirit entirely, and that spirit is whisky. Whisky has been increasing in popularity for many years now, and to meet the rising demand for whisky, new distilling capacity is being introduced in the form of new distilleries and micro-distilleries throughout North America (and elsewhere). Whisky (in most countries) must be aged for two to three years before it can be sold which means that start-up distilleries in need of cashflow produce and sell their own brands of gin and vodka (which do not need to age) so that they have at least something to generate income while the whisky ages in the oak barrels.

Coinciding with this phenomena is the ongoing cocktail revolution which shows no sign of abating. While Vodka was the spirit of choice at the beginning of the Cocktail Revolution, things are changing and more and more bartenders and home enthusiasts are discovering Gin. The juniper spirit, with its sharp piny aromatics is perhaps the perfect cocktail spirit to turn to when broadening the horizons of cocktail flavour.

Those who read my blog regularly know that I have joined the revolution and embraced gin as one of my go to cocktail spirits. I have embraced the Gin and Tonic, and recently discovered James Bond’s Vesper Martini.

And so with all that ado, it is time for me to pay tribute to the best Gin spirits I encountered in 2015.

Here are my Awards:

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1830_Sahara_Dry_Gin-shadowThe 2015 Rum Howler Award for Best Gin Value

and the winner is:

1830 Sahara Dry Gin

Runner-up award to: Boodle’s British Gin

Honourable Mention: Tanqueray Gin

I judged this competition in head to head tastings, serving each Gin in two cocktails, (the quintessential Gin and Tonic, and the Vesper Martini). Then I  selected the spirit which I felt gave me the best bang for my buck, factoring the cost of each spirit into my considerations. The winner of this category would be the best gin for a budget conscious individual. This is not the least expensive gin by any means, but the additional cost (which was only a few bucks) of the 1830 Sahara Dry Gin was well worth the expense.

(Note: Bombay Sapphire, Boodle’s, Broker’s, Beefeater, Gilbey’s, No. 209, Polo Club, Potter’s, and Tangueray were all considered for this Award.)

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1830_Sahara_Dry_Gin-shadowThe 2015 Rum Howler Award for the Best Mixing Gin

and the winner is:

1830 Sahara Dry Gin

Runner-up award to: Ungava Gin

Honorable Mention to: No. 3 London Dry 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 constructed a Gin Martini, a Gin Gimlet, and a Tom Collins with each spirit I was considering and made a determination as to which juniper spirit was overall the most pleasing. 

This year I seem to be finding a great deal of pleasure in the 1830 Sahara Dry Gin from Highwood Distillers as it turns out to be a great choice for not only high ball style cocktails, but also for sipping martinis.

(Note: Bombay Sapphire, Boodle’s, Broker’s, Beefeater, Beefeater 24, The Botanist, Dictador Ortodoxy, Citadelle, Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin, Gilbey’s, Hayman’s Old Tom, No. 3 London Dry, No. 209, Polo Club, Potter’s, Tanqueray, Tangueray Ranpur and Ungava gins were all considered for this Award.)

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Citadelle 2013 SAM_1363The 2015 Rum Howler Award for Best Sipping Gin

and the winner is:

Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin

Runner-up award to: The Botanist Isla Dry Gin 

Honorable Mention to: Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin (45 % abv) & No. 3 London Dry Gin

The choice for best sipping gin was determined during Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Competition. During my tasting sessions this summer I sampled all of my best gins side by side. Four of those spirits were chosen as top 100 participants. Those four spirits led by Citadelle Aged Gin were all chosen as award winners in this category.

(Note: Beefeater 24, The Botanist, Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin, No. 3 London Dry were each considered for this Award.)

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London No. 3 SAM_1251The 2015 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Gin

and the winner is:

No. 3 London Dry Gin

Runner-up awards to: Ungava Gin & The Botanist Isla Dry Gin

Honorable Mention to: Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin & Beefeater 24

For this category, half the score was based upon the taste of the constructed cocktails which I had assembled and tasted when determining the best mixing gin, and half the score was based upon the performance of the gin when served neat.I decided to include every gin I had reviewed and/or tasted this year as part of my various tasting events and tasting competitions I held this year.

(Note: Bombay Sapphire, Broker’s, Boodle’s, Beefeater, Beefeater 24, The Botanist, Dictador Ortodoxy, Citadelle, Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin, Gilbey’s, Hayman’s Old Tom, No. 3 London Dry, No. 209, Polo Club, Potter’s, Tanqueray, Tangueray Ranpur and Ungava gins were all considered for this Award.)

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RH-winner2015The Winners:

The 2015 Rum Howler Award for Best Gin Value: 1830 Sahara Dry Gin

The 2015 Rum Howler Award for Best Mixing Gin: 1830 Sahara Dry Gin

The 2015 Rum Howler Award for Best Sipping Gin: Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin

The 2015 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Gin: No. 3 London Dry Gin

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RH-Runner-Up-2015The Runner-ups:

The 2015 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Gin Value: Boodle’s British Gin

The 2015 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Mixing Gin:  Ungava Gin

The 2015 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Sipping Gin: The Botanist Isla Dry Gin

The 2015 Rum Howler Runners-up Award for Best Overall Gin: Ungava Gin & The Botanist Isla Dry Gin

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RH-HM-2015The Honourable Mentions:

The 2015 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Gin Value: Tanqueray Gin

The 2015 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Mixing Gin: No. 3 London Dry Gin

The 2015 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Sipping Gin: Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin (45 % abv) & No. 3 London Dry Gin

The 2015 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Overall Gin: Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin & Beefeater 24 

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