Yesterday was a great day on the gin calendar, the World Gin Awards final 2020.
Just prior to Christmas I completed judging of the semi finals, some 70 odd bottles that were sent to me at home to judge, score and write notes on. With 900+ entries this year, the judges were all sent different categories, and their scoring helped whittle down the numbers, with the top few of each category making it through to the final. This year the event had moved from it’s traditional home of the Caledonian Club, to the larger premises of Glaziers Hall. Located in London Bridge, the building has a fantastic history, as depicted on the panel below.
The building itself looks understated but holds some wonderful rooms and still retains some of the old features. It’s a really lovely space, right on the bank of the Thames. There is evidence of the high skill sets from Worshipful Companies in cases inside with an array of wonderful creations that were really interesting to look at.
For the morning, it was a group of the us who had judged the semi finals. This is the third year I’ve judged and you all become quite good friends through the love of gin. It was great to see some new faces there too! Vanessa Piromallo, of ilGin, an Italian gin blog (go check her out, it’s easy to use google translate), and Mara Veith, of Imbibe, amongst others. Our panel judged four flights, Contemporary, Navy Strength, Signature Botanical and Matured.
We popped over the road to the Mudlark and had wonderful lunch that was very much needed. There’s a lot of variety on the menu, but pies are their speciality. I had a sweet potato, goats cheese and spinach pie which came with a crumbed top, fresh veg and mashed potato. It was glorious. If you’ve got a penchant for pie, I heartily recommend them.
On our return to Glaziers Hall, I was astounded to see so many people arriving for the afternoon judging. Invites went out to those that had entered the competition and there were some 80-90 in attendance to judge the final round. Us judges who had been there for the morning were all given a table to look after, mine was table 8 and we had a flight of matured gin and a flight of Old Tom to judge. There was some great conversation around the table and it was really interesting hearing everyone’s point of view. It was a pleasure to see Pete Lumber of 137 Gin Distillery there. I first met Pete at the Craft Distilling Expo in September whilst I was on a panel discussing gin and the media. He’s a sterling chap. Congratulations on your wins Pete, well deserved! I should also mention my good friend Barb White Grossenbacher of Edelwhite Gin. I met Barb when we were judging at the IWSC in the summer. She’s a lovely lady an won best of Country with her gin, which is absolutely gorgeous.
Once the scores were submitted, Anita Ujszaszi and David T Smith presented the awards for best of Country. So many winners! And super pleased to have some of them on my table too. There was a wonderful feeling in the room, it’s a really special thing to see the joy of distillers feeling the recognition for all their hard work.
With the awards done, it was time to drink and network. I met a whole host of great people and had a thoroughly good time. The room was booked until 4pm and sadly, my plea for them to play music at 3.30 was politely declined, although I should imagine that was for the best. Afterwards some of us moved on to Bar Swift. Located in Soho, the bar has a great reputation and it’s easy to see why. Their cocktails are incredible. I would recommend the Jaquord, although the Berry Bellini and Negroni were also amazing. They’ve got a great selection, so if cocktails are your thing then they are well worth a visit.
It was so hard to leave everyone, but I did. I made it home (always a surprise after these events) for 10pm and drank a lot of water before putting myself to bed. Up at 5am, here I am at my desk, quickly putting this little something together, to share with all of you. No rest for the wicked! Thank you so much for having me, everyone at the World Gin Awards, it’s always a pleasure. And to my glorious fellow judges, so wonderful to see you, I hope you’re all feeling ok today and I’ll be seeing you again very soon. Big love x