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The Gin Masters 2023 – Second Tasting results

Such is the popularity of the gin category that we staged two blind-tasting competitions this year.

Gin Masters
The second instalment of our Gin Masters competition was held in November

It feels as though there’s a new wave of excitement sweeping through the gin category. The juniper‐forward spirit has enjoyed a strong decade of growth, but that has been slowing lately.

However, 2023 has brought an influx of celebrity names to the category, raising the question of whether gin could benefit in the same way as Tequila? Actor Emma Watson and her brother, Alex Watson, released Renais Gin in May 2023 as an “ode to the sun‐kissed vineyards of Chablis”. In the same month, actors Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie joined the sector, with Pitt unveiling The Gardener Gin, and Robbie debuting Papa Salt.

There are still many untapped markets for gin to grow into – and with so much quality on offer, as evidenced in the second part of this year’s Gin Masters blind tasting, the sky is the limit.

The judges

In November, five groups of independent judges gathered at London’s TT Liquor to put the entrants through their paces. Joyce Chou, translation‐project manager at Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), and Richard Legg, founder of Distilled Knowledge, joined Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business, and chair of The Global Spirits Masters Competitions (The GSMC) on the first panel.

Bryan Rodriguez‐Curtis, buyer at Harvey Nichols, led a second team. He was accompanied by: Nick Larsson‐Bell, senior buyer at Harvey Nichols; Herchelle Perez Terrado, founder and director of Drinks Partnership; and Dougie Rodriguez‐Curtis, spirits specialist.

A third team was made up of Matt Chambers, spirits writer and co‐founder of the Whisky For Everyone blog, who chaired the group. Joining him were Dan Greifer, Black Parrot Bar supervisor, and Sara Jane Eichler, founder of the Negroni Club UK.

Sara Miller, founder of the Gin A Ding Ding blog, chaired her group, which consisted of: Emma Stokes, gin expert and founder of Gin Monkey; and Allison Strydom, founder of the Gin Squares blog.

The fifth and final group comprised: Ruchira Neotia, wine and spirits consultant and drinks experience designer at Darjeeling Express; Clint Cawood, freelance drinks writer; Angelo Sparvoli, bartender at TT Liquor; and Marie Cheong‐Thong, wine and spirits judge, and WSET educator, who chaired the panel.

Gins priced between £16 and £20 (US$20‐US$25) were tasted first, in the Premium flight. A Gold medal was awarded to Sakurao Gin White Herbs, which had “good depth and complexity for the price”. A Silver award was given to Chambal – Indian Dry Gin.

Moving up to the next price bracket, super‐premium gins between £21 and £35, and a Master medallist was discovered in Copper Canvas Scratch Gin. “Zesty, fresh and vibrant” nose, noted the judges, leading to a “fresh and tangy palate with a hint of herbal background notes”.

Eleven Gold medals were also celebrated in this flight. Among the Gold‐winners was Bristol Dry Gin, which had an “oily texture, good juniper kick and lemon zest”. Highclere Castle Gin was another Gold medallist, delivering a “pleasant creamy texture” and flavours of “citrus peel and good juniper levels”. Four Silver medals concluded the flight. “It was really good to see juniper heavily present in these – a very good flight,” noted Eichler.

Gin cocktail
A popular cocktail ingredient, gin can be used as the base for Brambles or Negronis

The following Ultra Premium heat examined gins priced at £36 and above – with two entrants meeting the Master standard. Valley of Mother of God – Maplewood Smoked was one of the two Master winners. This gin impressed with “very delicate smoke, elegantly done”, leading to “sweetness, pine and citrus”, which shone through on the palate.

The second Master was awarded to Astraea Mist Gin, which had a “lovely soft nose, citrus and fennel, bright and complex on the palate”. Eichler said this was “herbaceous and citrusy with an underlying floral note and lots of juniper”.

This round also produced four Gold and three Silver medallists. The Gold winners included Tanzanite Gin, which brought “warmth” to the palate. It was “the whole package”, according to Cawood.

Eichler recognised the “step up in quality” that was present in this heat.

With the price brackets completed, it was time to look at gins based on their styles, starting with a flight of London Dry. Taking the top accolade was Hardaker’s Fine Spirits’ Signature Gin. For Legg, this gin was “very complex, lots of flavour development and citrus expressiveness. Lovely soft palate.”

The round also produced 10 Gold medals, which included Elephant London Dry Gin. The judges praised the “wonderful aroma”, which included “some spice, coriander, citrus” notes. Golf Gin from Eden Mill St Andrews also secured a Gold medal, said to be “an excellent example of a London Dry – begging to be mixed to really bring it to life”. Six Silver medals rounded off the London Dry flight.

While the medallists impressed, the judges were somewhat dismayed at the lack of juniper in the category. “While the ship has sailed on juniper dominance overall in the gin category, I feel it should be preserved or enforced a bit more for gins labelled as London Dry,” noted Stokes.

Judges took to the task of deciding which gins would make a standout G&T

The judges then turned their attention to a flight of Contemporary gins. The standout entry was Arctic Blue Gin, which joined the growing number of Master winners. The judges were impressed by “plenty of juniper” on the nose, leading to “a classic flavour profile on the palate – juniper, lemon peel, zesty and clean with late warming spices”.

Seven contemporary gins met the Gold standard, including Frankie’s Earl Grey Gin. Tasting notes included “cold black tea and lemon, with underlying juniper, vanilla and cinnamon”. Gold‐winning Saneha Luminous Gin also impressed with its “excellent tropical notes – rose, lychee and cardamom”.

Nine Silver medals were completed the flight. “This was very interesting, where producers have used juniper as the accent but used other flavours to push the product forward,” said Greifer. Miller mused: “Should there be boundaries or rules? Some showed very little gin character, but some were excellent and showed classic characteristics.”

Levwater Ginever secured a Gold medal in the Genever round, for its “light bitterness, citrus, herbal and pepper elements”.

In the Cask‐Aged flight, a Silver medal was handed to Gotlands Ginfabrik – Cask‐Aged Gin, with some “earthy tones” that complemented the juniper.

The Old Tom heat brought a double‐Gold result, awarded to Respect Distillery’s Old Tom Gin, and Parson Cosy Gin. Respect was described as a “classic Old Tom style, with sweeter notes, and good levels of juniper”. Parson Cosy Gin delivered some “elderflower” on the nose and “peach, fruitiness” on the palate.

Two more Gold medallists made themselves known in the Organic flight. Saneha Gin impressed with “bready aromas, citrus zest and light pepper” on the palate.

Gold‐winning Pluto Gin boasted “decent overall balance”, with “juniper and citrus coming through”.

From there, the judges moved to the Microdistillery flight. Mercia Gin New Worldcollected a Master medal in this heat. “Pleasurable from sniff to sip,” noted Neotia. “Melodic in all aspects of the juniper‐led flavours, with grapefruit, lemon peel, some cucumber, and the longest finish.”

Two Golds were awarded to “fresh, juniper‐ forward” Patience Summer Gin, and “elegant, citrusy” Mercia Signature Gin. A Silver medal was awarded to West Somerset Railway – Somerset Dry Gin.

The next flight cranked up the ABV, and two Master‐worthy gins were enjoyed in the Navy Strength contingent. The first accolade was bestowed upon Frido Gin – Navy Strength. “Very harmonious nose. Palate is rich and thick, very oily, and is beautifully integrated, with delicate balance and complexity,” said Legg. The other went to BeGin Copenhagen – Navy Strength, which was praised for its “lovely peppery tinle” and “nice dry spices”. Two Golds were also given out.

One of the most popular categories in recent years was presented to the judges next: Pink Gin.

Two Gold medals and a trio of Silver awards were delivered in this flight. The Gold winners included Incognito Strawberry and Raspberry Pink Gin, which had “raspberry and soft citrus notes, enhancing a classic gin base”. Gold‐ winning Love Gin was described as a “very nice and delicate gin; juniper‐forward, with mellow undertones of berries”.

The Flavoured Gin round was a success, with five brands taking home a Gold medals

The following flight was Flavoured Gin, where a plethora of Golds were praised. Gordon’s Passionfruit was one of five Gold winners in this heat, with the tropical flavour deemed to work “harmoniously with the pine and resin notes of the juniper”.

Dolce Vita Pompelmo Rosa also secured a Gold medal, with the grapefruit flavour said to be “the perfect fruit for gin”.

Seven Silver medals were also awarded in this flight, and included Citadelle Rouge and Millhill’s Strawberry Fields.

The penultimate flight of the day, Sloe Gin, led to a Gold for Respect Distillery’s Sloe Gin. “Jammy, fruity, good texture and nice sharpness on the palate,” summarised Kiely.

The closing round, Gin Liqueur, brought a Silver medal for Arctic Blue Laku, with “subtle liquorice” on the palate – “a gentle take on a liquorice‐flavoured liqueur”.

With the second tasting wrapped up, a number of Master medallists from The Gin Masters – First Tasting, which took place in June this year, were poured alongside the Master winners from this second sitting.

The judges assessed the medallists to determine who should win the most coveted accolade, The Gin Taste Master 2023. The award was delivered to Swedish producer Hernö Gin Distillery for its Hernö Navy Strength Gin.

The judges reflected on the day’s tasting. Legg said: “The gins that performed best made sure the juniper was still present and additional flavours were done harmoniously, without one flavour dominating.”

Chou agreed, adding: “The navy strength category did very well for me. It’s reassuring to see such high standards continuing in the gin sector.”

Taste Master
Company Product Medal
Hernö Gin Distillery Hernö Navy Strength Gin Master & Taste Master


Company Product Medal
Sakurao Brewery and Distillery Co Sakurao Gin White Herbs Gold
Bapuna Alcobrew Chambal – Indian Dry Gin Silver


Super Premium
Company Product Medal
Copper Canvas Copper Canvas Scratch Gin Master
Meir Distillery Meir Fermented Botanical Gin Gold
Arctic Blue Beverages Arctic Blue Gin Gold
Bristol Dry Gin Distillery Bristol Dry Gin Gold
Sassenach Spirits The Sassenach Wild Scottish Gin Gold
Ramsbury Single Estate Spirits Ramsbury Single Estate Gin Gold
Highclere Castle Spirits Highclere Castle Gin Gold
Levwater Levwater Ginever Gold
Islands8 Islands8 Gold
Foxglove Spirits Valley Of Mother of God –Wild Juniper Gold
Summer Gin Routt Distillery Gold
Winter Gin Routt Distillery Gold
Premium Thai Brands Co Saneha Luminous Gin Silver
Diageo Tanqueray No. Ten Silver
Los Alcores de Carmona Gin Puerto de Indias Silver
Sir Edmond Gin Sir Edmond Gin Silver


Ultra Premium 
Company Product Medal
Foxglove Spirits Valley Of Mother of God – Maplewood Smoked Master
Astraea Spirits Astraea Mist Gin Master
Astraea Spirits Astraea Ocean Gin Gold
Astraea Spirits Astraea Meadow Gin Gold
Uokka Tanzanite Gin Gold
Good Gin Company Heritage Baltic Gin Gold
Astraea Spirits Astraea Forest Gin Silver
Feddie Ocean Distillery Nine Sisters Ocean Gin Silver
Feddie Ocean Distillery Nine Sisters Grapefruit Gin Silver


London Dry
Company Product Medal
Hardaker’s Fine Spirits Signature Gin Master
Station 22 Seventh Heaven London Dry Gin Gold
Respect Distillery London Dry Gin Gold
Incognito Spirit Company Incognito London Dry Gin Gold
Bapuna Alcobrew Chambal Dry Gin Gold
Elephant Gin Elephant London Dry Gin Gold
Spirito Artigiano Lucanian Distillery Frido Gin – London Dry Gold
Gate 11 Distillery Gate 11 Dry Gin Gold
The White Rhino Gin Company Urban Rhino London Dry Gin Gold
Eden Mill St Andrews Golf Gin Gold
Diageo Gordon’s Traveller’s Edition Gold
Diageo Gordon’s London Dry Silver
BeGin Copenhagen BeGin Copenhagen – Pepper & Bay Leaf Silver
Italfood Qualita e Scelta Dolce Vita Dry Gin Silver
1585 London Dry Gin Silver
Les Spiritueux Nomades Gin Nomades Silver
Spiritueux des Laurentides Gin de Matante Silver


Company Product Medal
Arctic Blue Beverages Arctic Blue Gin Master
Destileria Forrester Frankie’s Chai Gin Gold
Coles Liquor Native Spirits Melbourne Classic Gin by Patient Wolf Gold
Destileria Forrester Frankie’s Earl Grey Gin Gold
Blacksmith Artisanal Spirits Quench Tank Gin Gold
Distillerie du Square Gin du Jardin Méditerranéen Gold
Premium Thai Brands Co Saneha Luminous Gin Gold
Destileria Patagonica Nativo Bosque Gin Gold
Ginagain Spirits Ginagain Silver
Blacksmith Artisanal Spirits Quench Tank Gin Silver
BBG Spirits Hedonya Zesty Berry Silver
Destileria Patagonica Alta Montaña Bosque Gin Silver
Spiritueux des Laurentides Gin De Monocle Silver
BBG Spirits Hedonya Original Silver
Hoshi Japanese Gin Silver
Hoshi Japanese Pink Gin Silver
Premium Thai Brands Co Saneha Gin Silver



Company Product Medal
Levwater Levwater Ginever Gold


Company Product Medal
Gotlands Ginfabrik Gotlands Ginfabrik – Cask Aged Gin Silver


Old Tom
Company Product Medal
Respect Distillery Old Tom Gin Gold
Spirits of The Alps Parson Cosy Gin Gold


Company Product Medal
Premium Thai Brands Co Saneha Gin Gold
Pluto Spirits Pluto Gin Gold


Company Product Medal
Mercia Whisky Company Mercia Gin New World Master
Mercia Whisky Company Mercia Signature Gin Gold
Patience Distillery Patience Summer Gin Gold
Mainline Spirit Co West Somerset Railway – Somerset Dry Gin Silver


Navy Strength
Company Product Medal
Spirito Artigiano – Lucanian Distillery Frido Gin – Navy Strength Master
BeGin BeGin Copenhagen – Navy Strength Master
Elephant Gin Elephant Strength Gin Gold
Arctic Blue Beverages Arctic Blue Gin Navy Strength Gold



Pink Gin
Company Product Medal
Incognito Spirit Company Incognito Strawberry and Raspberry Pink Gin Gold
Eden Mill St Andrews Love Gin Gold
Los Alcores de Carmona Gin Puerto de Indias Silver
Bristol Dry Gin Distillery Bristol Dry Gin Strawberry And Rose Gin Silver
Hardaker’s Fine Spirits Raspberry & Lemongrass Silver


Flavoured Gin
Company Product Medal
Elephant Gin Elephant Orange Cocoa Gin Gold
Arctic Blue Beverages Arctic Blue Gin Rose Gold
Diageo Gordon’s Passionfruit Gold
BeGin BeGin Copenhagen – Hibiscus Flower Gold
Italfood Qualita e Scelta Dolce Vita Pompelmo Rosa Gold
Los Alcores de Carmona Gin Puerto de Indias Exotic Blackberry Silver
Mayfair Rhubarb & Ginger Gin Silver
Maison Ferrand Citadelle Rouge Silver
Diageo Gordon’s Pink Silver
Diageo Gordon’s Sicilian Lemon Silver
BeGin BeGin Copenhagen – The Original Blend Silver
Stock Polska Millhill’s Strawberry Fields Silver


Sloe Gin
Company Product Medal
Respect Distillery Sloe Gin Gold


Gin Liqueur
Company Product Medal
Arctic Blue Beverages Arctic Blue Laku Silver

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