There’s no doubt that gin is the spirit success story of the past decade. A drink that suffered from a tired, old-fashioned image has been rejuvenated and reimagined, and is now the star performer in bars all over the world.
The drink originated in the Netherlands (where it was known as jenever), and soon attracted the attention of the UK, where it quickly caught on, and gave rise to a host of household names, such as Beefeater, Tanqueray and Gordon’s.
But top-quality gin is now made all over the world, with an ever-expanding list of exotic botanicals used to create new, exciting flavours. Juniper is still the dominant note in almost all examples of the drink, but it’s combined with all manner of ingredients to take the spirit in a particular direction, whether that’s citrus, spice or something else entirely.
This year’s IWSC saw a wide range of styles win Gold medals. Among the highest scorers was Andes Gin – Mountain Dry from Destilería de Montaña, made in Mendoza in the heart of the Argentinean winelands. Earning a staggering 98/100pts, it drew praise from the judges for its savoury, earthy and vegetal aromas and smooth palate.
Another Gold winner was Kanomori Gin from Yomeishu Seizo in Nagano, Japan. Kanomori means ‘forest of aromas’, and the gin is made with botanicals including kuromoji (which translates as ‘spice bush’), as well as goji berries, mulberries and blackberrry twigs. Judges appreciated its ‘intense’ notes of citrus and spicy juniper, as well as its palate of sweet vanilla spice and anise.
All the worldwide gins from this year’s IWSC were judged blind by an expert panel featuring some of the best palates in the business, such as expert Emma Stokes, Gin Foundry editor Olivier Ward and Sacred Spirits distiller Siobhan Feeley.
If you thought you’d seen all there is to the drink, this list of first-rate spirits should offer some new territory to explore. We’re proud to present the best gins from around the world, as judged at the 2021 International Wine & Spirit Competition.
12 award-winning gins from around the world at the IWSC 2021
- Destilería de Montaña, Andes Gin – Mountain Dry. Argentina; 98/100
- Nao Spirits & Beverages Hapusa, Himalayan Dry Gin. India; 95/100
- Yomeishu Seizo, Kanomori Gin. Japan; 95/100
- SS&B, Lord Of The Mountains Gin. Russia; 95/100
- Hovdenak Distillery, Stuðlaberg Gin. Iceland; 95/100
- Broken Heart Spirits, Navy Strength Gin. New Zealand; 95/100
- Distillerie Fils du Roy, Rocher Malin Gin. Canada; 95/100
- Distillerie Peroni Maddalena, Gin Laura. Italy; 95/100
- Never Never Distilling, Argo Gin. Australia; 95/100
- Hernö, Old Tom Gin. Sweden; 95/100
- Nordic Premium Beverages, Arctic Blue Legacy Gin. Finland; 95/100
- Bimmerle Private Distillery, Schwarzwald Distilled Sommer Refreshed Gin. Germany; 95/100
How do we judge these spirits?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
How do we score these spirits?
Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
More from Club Oenologique
Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.
Top Rated Bottles
Destilería de Montaña, Andes Gin – Mountain Dry
Nao Spirits & Beverages, Hapusa Himalayan Dry Gin
Yomeishu Seizo, Kanomori Gin
SS&B, Lord Of The Mountains Gin
Hovdenak Distillery, Stuðlaberg Gin
Broken Heart Spirits, Navy Strength Gin
Distillerie Fils du Roy, Rocher Malin Gin
Distillerie Peroni Maddalena, Gin Laura
Never Never Distilling, Argo Gin
Hernö, Old Tom Gin
Nordic Premium Beverages, Arctic Blue Legacy Gin
Bimmerle Private Distillery, Schwarzwald Distilled Sommer Refreshed Gin
The radical new wave of low and no drinks
Life lessons with Hendrick’s Gin master distiller Lesley Gracie
‘Is it time for bars to do away with menus altogether?’
Get access to all our back issues via our free digital archive – and enjoy the best rate on a magazine subscription