During the last competition in 2021 of the IWSC, International Wines & Spirits Competition, nine gins received the first prize. These nine bottles are produced in six different countries, some of which are quite unexpected like Argentina, Japan, and Italy. The members of the jury also awarded 38 other gin brands.

The IWSC is an annual competition for the best wines and spirits. Founded by Anton Massel in 1969, it quickly grew to become the largest competition of its kind in the world.

Spirits are evaluated on a scale of 100 points and rewards are awarded according to the following scale: Gold exception (between 98 and 100 points), Gold (between 95 and 97 points), Silver (between 90 and 94 points) and Bronze (between 85 and 89 points).

For evaluating the thousands of bottles competing in 1,500 categories, the competition calls on 250 judges from all over the world. It is important to note that, as in previous years, none of the “global” gin brands have won a gold medal. As a rule, the gin category has been dominated by handicraft distillers, many of whom come from countries that are not traditional gin producers.

Six of the winners these are modern styled dry gins with 40% to 57.5% ABV. The term “modern gin” is not strictly defined. However it is often applied to gins that contain non-traditional, usually local herbs, in addition to the usual flavoring.

Andes Gin – Mountain Dry, 45% ABV

Andes Gin is an Argentinian gin produced in Mendoza, in the heart of one of Argentina’s main wine regions. This gin is made from a unique combination of traditional and local herbs.

The gins production is not associated with Argentina, this South American country has been producing it for several centuries. Argentina is the country in South America with the highest per capita consumption of gin.

Biggar Strength Gin, 57% ABV

Technically, Biggar is a ‘navy strength’ gin produced in Scotland. Over the past five years, gin production has experienced a renaissance in Scotland. The country now has over 200 different brands of gin. This gin is produced from traditional herbs, rowan and rosehip berries, nettles and locally grown hawthorns.

The end result is a smooth and fruity gin, with hints of citrus and dried apple and some herbal aromas. Soft, creamy and sweet, this gin has a distinctive juniper character, along with notes of freshly cut lavender and some pepper.

Runa, Craft Gin Arandanos, 42% ABV

Runa is another gin produced in Argentina. This product shares its name with a Scandinavian gin, so be sure to purchase the bottle labeled Arandanos. This modern gin with intense flavors is also made from local plants to create more pronounced flavors.

Alma Distillers, Premium Artisan Gin, 40% ABV

Again, this is Argentinian gin. Alma is produced from a fairly conventional blend of 16 plants from southern Argentina. This gin is also made from juniper berries from Patagonia. The end result is a product with a silky texture and smooth on the palate, with a lingering sweet note.

Last Episode O-Elegant, 47% ABV

Elegant is a Japanese gin regularly awarded in spirits competitions around the world. Like many Japanese gins, it is produced from local, non-traditional plants. In this case, this gin also consists of Masumi sake lees, used as a flavoring agent.

Lightning Gin, 57.5% ABV

Lightning Gin is also a regularly awarded bottle in spirits competitions. Recently, this gin won a gold medal at the San Francisco International Spirits Competition. The Australian Karu Distillery is located at the foot of the Blue Mountains (mountain range) in the small town of Grose Vale in New South Wales.

This is a “navy strength” gin with a very pronounced juniper aroma. It also has citrus aromas drawn from lemon myrtle, bitter ruby grapefruit and sweet tangerine. Finally, it presents notes of pink geranium. Most of the plants are of local origin.

Hench Gin, 57% ABV

A traditional ‘navy stregnth’ gin produced in Timperley, a small village on the outskirts of Manchester in the UK, Hench is made from 13 traditional herbs, most of which are locally sourced. The end result is a pure and fresh gin with distinct notes of lemon and orange as well as a lingering taste of sweet almond on the final note.

Lantic Gin Winter Botanicals, 41.5% ABV

Produced in Cornwall, Lantic Gin is made with traditional herbs and uses a selection of local, hand-picked and seasonal herbs. Gin produced from winter plants includes: rowan berries, blackberries, Kea plums, crabapples, pears, rosehips, heather and mint. After distillation, the gin “rests” in oak barrels for a short time before being bottled.

Jo Ressel, Vento Carsico Gin, 40% ABV

Over the past decade, Italy has become a hotspot for the production of artisanal gins. Today the country boasts over 300 locally produced gins, offering a wide range of flavors and aromas.

Vento Carsico falls into the category of flavored gins. This term seems ill-suited, because all gins are flavored, otherwise we would be dealing with vodkas.

Vento Carsico gin takes its name from the wind (vento) that constantly blows over the limestone karstic plateau (carsico) of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in northeastern Italy.

This gin is flavored with locally grown mugo pine, giving it a balsamic flavor. It is then flavored with wild sage, savory, hyssop and lemon zest. The end result is a spirit immediately recognizable as a gin, but which offers a different aromatic and taste profile.

The members of the jury also awarded a gold medal to 38 other gins. There are over 6,000 different expressions of gin around the world, of which over 1,700 are produced in the UK. Among spirits, gin is the product with the most brands in the world.

The contemporary gins business offers a wide range of aroma and flavor profiles, and continues to evolve to encompass both new variations with traditional herbs and new and surprising expressions with unusual herbs.

The emergence of seasonal gins, produced from local plants that are only available at a certain time of year, has also fostered the development of regional and national variations of gin. One thing is certain, gin-tonic will never be the same!

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