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Ferdinands Distillery

Ginsmith Award

The Ginsmith Award came about when we got back the answers to our 2015 Ginfographic, which revealed that a whopping 47% of participants answered “no” when asked if they consider award stickers as indicative of a gin’s quality. In fact, only 16% of people said “yes,” while the second largest majority – 37% – said this was something they contemplated “only sometimes.” As the sole purpose of most spirits awards is to signpost the quality of a gin, the lack of heed paid to them is a shocking indictment of their current impact outside of the drinks community.

The more we looked into this, the more we felt that award programmes such as these need to be revolutionised, with consumer interests placed first, brand interests second and the organiser’s third. Even when they are delivered by trusted experts with good intentions this cut through just isn’t happening, and as such the existing awards do not live up to those operating outside of the drinks industry. There is no equivalent to the Oscars, Grammy’s or the Turner Prize.

To buck this trend, we’re launching the Ginsmith Award. The award will begin small, focusing only on British gin makers at first, all of whom will be placed under the same category. We will judge much more than just neat spirit and will work collaboratively with many partners, trade experts and consumers to reach our conclusions.

Our award will be simple and easy to understand – we will pick only one winner. We will not dish out medals for all who enter, and while we will highlight a few notable runners up, only one badge exists so to better serve the gin maker that we consider to be the best.

We all know that there is more to assessing the quality of a drink than how it looks when bottled and how it tastes sipped neat and out of context. The elements that make a good gin great are far reaching – ethos, environmental footprint, creativity, innovation, value for money, transparency and passion, as well as the most vital aspect – how it works in cocktails. We want to celebrate the maker and the entire distillery itself, as this is a truer sign of the overall quality of a product. All of these factors are included in what is set to be an ambitious, wide-reaching and inclusive judging programme, designed to to celebrate the very best of the category and provide them with a platform to really shout about it.

We will spend 2016 putting this ultimate award together, building it so that the prize itself is of enormous value to both gin makers and gin drinkers. We’ll work together with many collaborators and instigators to make the award bigger than all of us as individual companies, writers and gin fans. Stay tuned for more updates here as we progress.

Who will judge?

We have dozens of key figures (announced below) in the gin industry joining us on the judging panel. They will will blind taste the gins, both neat and in a G&T and will use their expert understanding of the category to mark the other factors.

What's the prize?

As well as the Kudos and PR our 2017 Ginsmith will win a bursary spot at Junipalooza 2017, which takes place at Tobacco Dock on World Gin Day in June and a two page spread in the Gin Annual 17/18.

When does it begin?

Entry to the competition opens in January 2017. Distilleries have three weeks to complete their entry forms and surveys and get them back to us, along with the two bottles of gin required for the judging process.

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Programme

Judged out of 20 points

One of the main problems we have with the current crop of spirits awards is that drinks are so often tried out of context. Tasting gin neat is a fine assessment of the smoothness of a spirit, but it bears no impact on its taste when mixed. This is especially important to note given that the gin resurgence is very much riding the coattails of the cocktail wave – it’s a mixing spirit, so we’ll be tasting it both on it’s own, and as part of a G&T.

Judged out of 20 points

One of the main problems we have with the current crop of spirits awards is that drinks are so often tried out of context. Tasting gin neat is a fine assessment of the smoothness of a spirit, but it bears no impact on its taste when mixed. This is especially important to note given that the gin resurgence is very much riding the coattails of the cocktail wave – it’s a mixing spirit, so we’ll be tasting it both on it’s own, and as part of a G&T.

Judged out of 20 points

While taste is obviously the main factor, branding is hugely important to a gin’s success, especially in a market as busy as this one. Packaging needs to be striking and memorable, delivering a good (and good looking) product at a fair price.

Judged out of 20 points

We’ll look at how well a distillery engages with drinkers via their newsletters and social media, how they present themselves online (in terms of both content and photography) and how active they are in presenting their gins to both trade and consumer. Other considerations will include the availability of the brand across the UK.

Judged out of 10 points

We live in the age of information, so transparency is of utmost importance. The more information about the production methods and provenance of ingredients that are shared, the more points a distillery will gain. We will consider whether the distillery is open to visitors and, if not, whether they have a brand home elsewhere.

Other factors include how much of the process is undertaken at their distillery and how sustainable their process is.

Judged out of 10 points

We will not only consider each distillery’s flagship gin, but will look at its entire range, considering the innovation they’ve brought to the category and what diversity they offer, in terms of flavour, price point and novelty, whilst remaining true to their core values as a group.

Gin Foundry

As the editor of Gin Foundry, Olivier oversees all of the content published on the site. Having worked building now internationally recognized drinks brands, tasted and reviewed hundreds of gins, visited dozens of distilleries and a trained distiller himself – Olivier has acquired a holistic view on how gin works, both in its making and in the way it is brought to market.

The Oliver Conquest

Sara became the landlady of The Oliver Conquest in late October 2010. In the 6 years since, become a mecca for gin lovers, hosting regular tastings and meet the maker sessions.

With a passion for all things gin Sara has been building their gin collection to over 300 strong, as well as having constant focus on training staff knowledge about both brand and category.

The Whisky Exchange

Billy Abbott is a web content editor for The Whisky Exchange and a freelance drinks writer and consultant in his spare time.

Once a computer programmer, he swapped code for drinks, and has spent the last six years exploring the world of booze in a professional capacity.

Cherry Drinks

Cherry Constable is an independent drinks writer, specialising in gin. She actively engages with consumers on social media, regularly writing reviews and sharing her enthusiasm.

She holds a Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Diploma and is a Plumpton College alumna. Cherry judges wine and spirits for multiple international competitions.

Summer Fruit Cup

David is the author of the much loved and highly respected SummerFruitCup, where over 400 gin reviews can be browsed.

As of 2016 David T. Smith has chaired the gin judging American Distilling Institute, Worlds Best Drinks and Gin Masters competitions. He also judges for IWSC as their gin specialist.

Gin Monkey

With twelve years of experience of working in cocktail bars in Leeds, Newcastle and London, Emma has invaluable insight into what it takes to work behind the stick. Her site, Gin Monkey reviews bars, and provides insight on cocktails, spirits and booze from a consumer’s perspective.

Emma is also the person for running, World Gin Day: a day that is first and foremost a celebration of all things gin, but which also give the world a legitimate excuse (not that it's need one) to mix up a cocktail and learn about all of the exceptional gins that are currently on the market.

Gin Kiosk

As the manager and curator of online retail hub Gin Kiosk, Emile's expertise in gin lies in understanding the commercial requirements brands have and how products are brought to market.

His specialist gin retail experience has allowed him to spot trends and gain an understanding of exactly where the category is today

The Gin Guild

Nicholas Cook is the Director General of the Gin Guild. He was appointed to the role in October 2012, when the organisation was incorporated by the Worshipful Company of Distillers (one of the historical livery companies of London, formed in 1638).

The Worshipful Company of Distillers is still actively involved in the spirit industry, including education, training and support of responsible use of alcohol. Via the work of The Gin Guild, it provides and facilitates an opportunity for those involved in the gin industry to participate in a modern convivial industry forum, reflecting and including many of the traditions of the City.

Fever Tree

Craig Harper has been the on-trade manager at Fever-Tree since 2012 having previously worked at Bacardi and Martin Miller's Gin. With his huge wealth of industry experience and brings an deep rooted understanding of how brands operate in the on-trade and how gins are perceived by bartenders.

IT ALL BEGINS!

1st January 2017: Submissions open. Contact Olivier@www.ginfoundry.com to request your entry pack.

Entries close

5th February 2017: Submissions close. Have your completed entrance forms and gin with us by this date.

First round of judging

Feb 2017: Initial round of judging takes place and the 10 finalists are announced.

The Finals...

Feb 2017: Finalists are judged & the winner of the 2017 Ginsmith Award is decided.

GIN FOUNDRY

As well as the Kudos, our 2017 Ginsmith will win a bursary spot at Junipalooza 2017, which takes place at Tobacco Dock on World Gin Day in June. The annual festival will see 4000 gin fans descend upon this East London venue to try new gins and to meet the makers directly. The bursary spots are something of a good luck charm – just ask Pothecary, who launched at Junipalooza this year and went on to be one of our sister company, Gin Kiosk’s, best selling gins.

The winner will also receive a guaranteed listing on Gin Kiosk and a two-page spread in the Gin Annual 17/18; this publication is devoured by thousands of gin geeks, so is the perfect opportunity to get your brand firmly on their radar.

Transparent judging, transparent costing

The cost to enter Ginsmith award is only the cost of sending the bottles to enter. There are no fees charged by Gin Foundry and no hidden "bolt on" costs.

BRAND OWNERS

If you would like to register your interest to ensure you are included in the call out when Ginsmith launches, please contact olivier@www.ginfoundry.com