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The 2012 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin

When I began to publish my Rum Howler Awards, I had no idea how quickly they would grow, nor how popular they would become. Although, these awards were originally meant to be a fun excuse for me to revisit my most favoured distilled spirits and share that re-visitation with you my readers; from the beginning, I tried my best to treat the process with respect. Apparently Industry respects my awards too. Last year I saw my Rum Howler Award Badge proudly displayed on company websites (see here), on bottle neck ringers (see here), and in the advertising campaigns (see here) of some of the winners. It is my belief that my Rum Howler Awards have become more than just a fun excuse to revisit my most favoured spirits; they have become important markers for both connoisseurs and for industry.

This year rather than lumping my awards for Gin with the Vodka and Tequila Awards, I have decided to give these awards their own separate billing so to speak here on my website. All of the Gin Awards are based upon actual side by side tastings of the various spirits both neat and in cocktails. It was a process which took me about one week to complete. Just so you know, all spirit samples which I receive in a given year are automatically considered for the awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the judging at the end of the year. This year, for the first time, I also received some additional industry samples specifically for these awards. The competition for the Gin Awards was much more competitive this year than it was last year.

And so without further ado, it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2012 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Gin. These Awards are for the best Gin Spirits I encountered in the year 2012.

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The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Value Priced Gin

and the winner is:

Sahara Dry Gin

Runner-up award to: Broker’s (Premium London Dry Gin)

Honourable Mention to Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin

I judged this competition in head to head tastings, serving each Gin in two standard cocktails (the Tom Collins and the Darby) as well as sipping each spirit neat. Afterwards I selected the spirit which I felt gave me the best bang for my buck, factoring the cost of each into my considerations.

The surprising winner was the little known Sahara Dry Gin which is produced in a batch style process by Highwood Distillers. 

(Considered for this award were Beefeater London Dry Gin (40 % abv), Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin, Broker’s (Premium London Dry Gin), and Sahara Dry Gin)

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The 2012 Rum Howler Award for the Best Mixing Gin

and the winner is:

Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin

Runner-up award t0 London No. 1 Original Blue Gin

Honorable Mention to Broker’s (Premium London Dry Gin)  and Sahara 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 began my tasting sessions with seven spirits, and mixed a Darby Cocktail  and a Gin and Tonic with each. I scored each cocktail with equal weight and determined that four spirits had clearly separated themselves.

Of those four, the Beefeater 24 was the clear winner, although the London No. 1 Original Blue Gin was certainly a worthy runner-up. Two lower priced gins, the Broker’s Premium London Dry Gin, and the surprisingly good Sahara Dry Gin were given honourable mention status, and either of these spirits would fit the bill for the gin enthusiast on a budget.

(Considered for this award were Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin (45 % abv), Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin, Broker’s (Premium London Dry Gin), Hendrick’s Gin, London No. 1 Original Blue Gin, Port of Barcelona Gin, and Sahara Dry Gin)

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Citadelle Reserve Gin

The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Gin

and the winner is:

Citadelle Reserve Gin

Runner-up award to Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin

Honorable Mention to No. 3 London Dry Gin and Sahara Dry Gin

For this category, to make my determination, I decided to mix three cocktails, a Gin and Tonic, a Dry Gin Martini, and a Darby Cocktail. Then I sampled each spirit as well neat, at room temperature. Half the score was based upon the taste of the cocktails, and half the score was based upon the performance of the gin when served neat. It was a very interesting competition because the each gin was so different, which meant that judging the cocktails was extremely difficult. However when sipping each spirit neat, two clearly stood apart, and one of these (the Citadelle Reserve) was on another level entirely.

The clear winner (although the Beefeater 24 was a solid runner-up) was Citadelle Reserve Gin, thus deserving the title of The Rum Howler 2012 – Best Overall Gin!

(Considered for this award were Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin (45 % abv), Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin, Broker’s (Premium London Dry Gin), Citadelle Reserve Gin, Hendrick’s Gin, London No. 1 Original Blue Gin, No. 3 London Dry Gin, Port of Barcelona Gin, and Sahara Dry Gin)

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The Winners:

The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Value Priced Gin:  Sahara Dry Gin

The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Mixing GinBeefeater 24 London Dry Gin

The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Gin:  Citadelle Reserve Gin

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The Runner-ups:

The 2012 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Value Priced Gin: Broker’s (Premium London Dry Gin)

The 2012 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Mixing Gin: London No. 1 Original Blue Gin

The 2012 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Overall Gin: Beefeater 24 London Dry Gin

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The Honourable Mentions:

The 2012 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Value Priced Gin: Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin

The 2012 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Mixing Gin: Broker’s (Premium London Dry Gin) and Sahara Dry Gin

The 2012 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Overall Gin: No. 3 London Dry Gin and Sahara Dry Gin

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