One of the categories contributing to the record number of entries experienced by the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirit Awards for 2018 is that of gin: some 81 gins were entered this year, making it the largest spirits category in the competition.
“We have all been aware of the growth in popularity of gin among consumers world-wide as well as the increase in the number of producers and brands in South Africa,” said Winnie Bowman, convener of the spirits panel for the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirit Awards. “But to see 81 different gins vying for an award is quite amazing.”
Concerning the judging of these, Bowman said the South African gins’ use of local herbs and botanicals lifted the entries in the eyes of the foreign judges on her panel. “Notes of fynbos and rooibos tea, for example, were absolutely delightful and unique, a proudly South African calling card for our gins. It was rewarding seeing this creativity on the part of distillers garnering such interest from the judges. Made me very proud of our distillers, in fact.”
There were also a number of well-made, traditional drier varieties showing true craft in the distillation process and with the just-right amount of juniper character.
“Among the entries we saw a tendency where certain gins had little or no juniper influences,” says Bowman. “And that is one thing producers must remember – for an international panel of judges such as what we are on the Michelangelo Awards, no juniper character means no gin character.”
Bowman says 81 is a steep number of spirits to judge, but the creativity and the scope of the entrants made the gin category extremely interesting.
“From pure London dry styles to gins with Cape fynbos and through to fruit-laced styles – it is a real dynamic and tasty category and with the quality of my fellow international judges I’d like to think that the Michelangelo results will reveal the finest South African gin producers.”