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The 2017 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin

rh-winner20172016 was a tremendous year for that spirit which we call Gin (at least as far as my website reviews are concerned). Not only did I add many new gin reviews to my website during that year, I also revisited many of my old favourites with new reviews and new cocktails.

1878 Gin Cocktail

1878 Gin Cocktail

The impact of all this writing catapulted my website onto the front page of many internet search engines including google where (as of the time I am writing this) The Rum Howler Blog is the number 3 listed independent spirits review website listed when the search term ‘Gin Reviews’ is searched.

In 2016 I also spent a great deal of time exploring gin cocktails, researching new recipes as well as refining some of my older constructions as my appreciation for the juniper spirit has continued to increase.

The result of all of this effort has been that I was able to examine and taste 20 different gins at one point or during the last year. When those 20 are added to the juniper spirit I examined during 2015, the result is that I had a field of over 30 Gins to choose from for this years awards.

The best have been brought forward to receive 2017 Rum Howler Awards.

Here are my Awards:


Hayman's Family ReserveThe 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Gin Value

and the winner is:

Hayman’s Family Reserve

Runner-up award to: Boodle’s British Gin

Honourable Mention: Broker’s London Dry Gin

I judged this competition in head to head tastings served neat as well as serving each Gin in two cocktails, (the quintessential Gin and Tonic, and a Lime Gimlet). 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. Interestingly, all three of the best value gins were produced in Britain this year.

The best of the lot was Hayman’s Family Reserve which literally ran away from the competition. Although I like Boodle’s and Broker’s a great deal for cocktails, the sipability of the Hayman’s Gin was unmatched by the other value gins, and it was my ability to appreciate Hayman’s neat that put it well over the top.


Gilpin's Dry MartiniThe 2017 Rum Howler Award for the Best Cocktail Gin

and the winner is:

Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin

Runner-up award to: 1830 Sahara Dry Gin

Honorable Mention to: Poli Marconi 46 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 found a new favourite cocktail gin, Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry. Everything about Gilpin’s is classic. The juniper leads out in front and does not relent. Classic citrus zest combined with coriander and sage give the gin a lively mouth-feel and wonderful lightly spiced finish. Then the earthy bitterness of angelica root caps the experience.

Another favourite of mine is the 1830 Sahara Dry Gin from Highwood Distillers which was this year’s Runner-up. The 1830 Sahara gin is produced from Canadian wheat and naturally sourced Rocky Mountain water. The botanicals mentioned on the Highwood website are juniper, citrus of orange, lemon, and lime. There are of course a few other secret botanicals not mentioned  which are all added just prior to the final distillation. A huge Honourable Mention goes out to Poli Marconi 46 Gin which is created from an infusion of juniper berries, muscat grape, mountain pine, cembra pine, mint, cardamom and coriander. (These botanicals (all familiar to the Poli family) are reminiscent of the Asiago Plateau in the north of the Veneto region of Italy, where the Poli family comes from.)


citadelle-2013-sam_1363The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Sipping Gin

and the winner is:

Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin

Runner-up award to: Hayman’s Family Reserve

Honorable Mention to: Berkeley Square: The London Dry Gin

I love the Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin. In fact it is not only the highest rated gin upon my website and it is also one of my highest rated spirits period. The Citadelle Reserve 2013 Edition Gin is aged in small oak casks, and it is apparently the first gin to be aged using a solera style maturation.

The Runner-Up Award goes to Hayman’s Family Reserve, which also won the Award for Best Value Gin. This illustrates aptly that cost is not indicative of quality where gin is concerned.

The Honourable Mention goes to Berkeley Square London Dry Gin which is produced by G and J Greenall. The company likes to bill the spirit as the ‘single malt’ of the gin world based upon the production methods used which they trace back to the late 1700s. While it tastes nothing like a Single Malt Scotch, it certainly does appeal to me as a sipping spirit.


Hayman's Family ReserveThe 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Gin

and the winner is:

Hayman’s Family Reserve

Runner-up Award toCitadelle Reserve Aged Gin

Honorable Mention toGilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin

It was very difficult for me to choose my Gin of the Year; but in the end, I felt that the contest was so close between Hayman’s Family Reserve and Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin that the only fair thing to do was to give the prize to the Gin which was half the price.

Both of these spirits are outstanding, and if the truth were told I prefer the Citadelle by a hair, but in this current recession, I also appreciate a spirit which can deliver quality at a low price which is exactly what the Hayman’s Family Reserve does.

Gilpin’s Westmorland Gin is no slouch, and if money really is no object, then I suggest that you buy all three of these wonders for the best of all gin worlds. This is especially true as each of these three spirits represents a different take on the spirit which we call gin.


rh-winner2017The Winners:

The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Gin Value: Hayman’s Family Reserve

The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Cocktail Gin: Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin

The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Sipping Gin: Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin

The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Gin: Hayman’s Family Reserve


rh-runner-up-2017The Runner-ups:

The 2017 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Gin Value: Boodle’s British Gin

The 2017 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Mixing Gin: 1830 Sahara Dry Gin

The 2017 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Sipping Gin: Hayman’s Family Reserve

The 2017 Rum Howler Runners-up Award for Best Overall Gin: Citadelle Reserve Aged Gin


rh-hm-2017The Honourable Mentions:

The 2017 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Gin Value: Broker’s London Dry Gin

The 2017 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Mixing Gin: Poli Marconi 46 Gin

The 2017 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Sipping Gin: Berkeley Square: The London Dry Gin

The 2017 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Overall Gin: Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin



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