Gin Awards 2022 (3)

Bottle Design of the Year

I have long been fascinated by the design and shape of gin bottles, a sure fire way to get your product noticed in the crowded field spawned by the ginaissance. Here are my two favourites, and they are diametrically opposed in concept and execution.

Artingstall’s Brilliant London Gin

The paramount statement piece of this gin and what makes Artingstall’s stand out from the crowd is the bottle. It is stunning, a huge, square block of embossed glass, reminiscent of the classic cut glass decanters of the 1950s and 60s, which would do serious damage if you dropped it on your toes. The design was based on an old cut-glass decanter Feig found in a charity shop and has a wide glass top with a white synthetic stopper. The labelling is a classy black, textured with a gold foil border and gold lettering. It is magnificent.

I cannot bear to part with it and even though its contents have long gone, it stands proudly amongst my gin collection.

Ebba Cornish Dry Gin

Mounts Bay Distillery have managed to grab the browser’s attention in a completely different way. The bottle housing their Ebba Cornish Dry Gin is stunning, simplicity personified, but elegant and something you will want to keep and cherish, long after the original contents have gone.

Slim, circular with a medium-sized neck, leading to a wooden top and cork stopper, it is made of a sort of duck egg green ceramic. Labelling is minimalist. A long thin strip near the base of the bottle, giving simply the name of the product, the size of bottle (700ml) and the ABV (40%) in orange and black type on a white background. The continuation to the rear of the bottle is marginally more informative. The only other colour used is orange on the security label.

If you are looking for minimalist elegance, this is it in a bottle.

Logo Of The Year

The revamped 58 and Co have come up with a stunning logo that took my breath away. Elegant in a contemporary style, it features a hand-drawn juniper leaf dipped in copper, an image drawing its inspiration from the copper sun-powered alembic still used in the production process. The gin is good too, especially their Navy Strength.

Gin Awards 2022 (2)

The Alternative Version Award

Tappers Brightside Coastal London Dry Gin

Innovation in the ginaissance tends to focus around ever more outlandish botanicals or distilling methods, but Tappers have taken a leaf out of the music business where it is commonplace to put out a different remixed version of the same song.

Tappers started out with Darkside, distilled using the cold compound method, in which the selected botanicals are steeped in a neutral spirit, in this instance from grain, to infuse the flavours without distillation. The botanicals are then filtered out leaving a resultant spirit that is packed with flavour and retaining the colouring from the botanicals.

Launched in 2020 Brightside uses the same botanicals and neutral spirit as Darkside but they are distilled by a process of boiling and condensation in a small copper still.

The result is a gin without any trace of colouring from the botanicals and is crisp and sharp, perhaps the more clinical CD to the earthier, more “natural” vinyl sound of Darkside.

Tappers are the first distillers to have done this and it is an intriguing development which might catch on. I found it in my local Waitrose and it is now a regular on my gin shelf.

Gin Awards 2022

It is around this time that the editor, scratching their head to fill the space, suggests that it would be a good idea to pick out some of the highlights of the year. Well, here goes. Over the next three posts I will pick out the pick of the crop in my exploration of the gin scene in 2022.

The Gin is Juniper Award

Never Never Triple Juniper Gin

There is more than a whiff of Master Chef in this beaut from South Australia and the deservedly globally acclaimed Never Never Distilling Company. Gin is a spirit where juniper should first and foremost, with other botanicals playing to its strengths not overpowering, something that many distillers seem to lose sight of. Not Never Never.

Rather like triple-cooked chips, they use three different processes for adding the juniper. First, it is macerated in the spirit for 24 hours before it is filtered out, then fresh juniper is added to the macerated spirit and distilled, and then the vapour basket contains yet more juniper.

It is not just a pure hit of juniper but something more complex and subtle, using coriander, angelica, orris root, pepper berry, and cinnamon to good effect. Citrus elements are provided by orange and pomelo, which are detectable to the nose, giving the intense hit of juniper even greater depth. This is gin heaven.

Makar Original Dry Gin

Closer to home, this is the Glasgow Distillery’s paean to juniper. Produced since 2014, it uses seven other botanicals – lemon peel, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cassia bark, rosemary, angelica root, and liquorice – each carefully selected to complement, support, and enhance the juniper. Old school the botanicals may be, but they make a wonderfully complex gin which sees the juniper assert its dominance after allowing the lighter elements to tickle the palate.

Makar is Gaelic for poet and this gin is a distinctive ode to the botanical that is the cornerstone of gin.