Spirits and brands from 86 different countries battled it out for medals at the 2021 London Spirits Competition, demonstrating how quickly the awards have become a major part of the global spirits industry calendar, with a 42% increase in entries from the 2020 event.
The most hotly contested categories were: gin (471 entries), whiskey (132), liqueurs (131), and rum (123). Seven countries stood out in terms of the number of spirits entered and medals won, with the leading nations being: The UK, Australia, United States, Italy, France, Canada, and Germany.
The medal winners at the fourth London Spirits Competition can be rightly proud of their achievement. For they have had to work a lot harder for their success than they do in other drinks events that only judge a product on its quality and what it tastes like.
The London Spirits Competition judges all the spirits and brands the same way a consumer does, be it buying a brand in a supermarket or ordering a drink at a bar. Along with what it tastes like, they want to know what it costs, and what it looks like.
spirits buyers and bartenders who help judge the London Spirits Competition
Those key factors are all taken into account by the judges of the London Spirits Competition; individuals who all know what they are looking for. The judging panel is made up of professional bartenders, mixologists, bar managers, and consultants who assess spirits and drinks every day of their working lives in the same way.
That’s what has made the London Spirits Competition, in just four years, one of the most prestigious and important events in the spirits world. It is rewarding, celebrating and helping promote the spirits brands that consumers will most want to buy.
TGI Friday’s Gary Burdekin is one of the professional spirits buyers and bartenders who help judge the London Spirits Competition
Gary Burdekin, Master bartender at TGI Friday’s UK, captures what it means for judges to take part in the competition: “The fact that not only is the spirit being judged, but the design and packaging too. It’s good to be able to give an overall opinion on a spirit. There’s been many times where I like the look of a bottle, but I’ll never buy it because of what’s inside. It singles out the ‘complete’ products from the rest.”
Fellow judge, Daniel Susko, head of Bars at Annabel’s and The Birley Clubs, agrees: “Acknowledging not only taste and quality, but the appearance and design of the final product complete the feel of the brand as a whole.”
Sid Patel, the founder of the London Spirits Competition and Chief Executive of the Beverage Trade Network that organises the event, alongside the other London Competitions for Beer and Wine, said: “The large range and diversity of spirits entered in this year’s competition from all over the world demonstrates how far distillers and brand owners have come in recent years in raising the bar, improving the overall quality of brands available, and, in a way making it even harder to pick out the winners in the London Spirits Competition."
“All the medal winners at the 2021 event can be rightly proud of their achievement. Every product is judged on its own merit using our unique judging criteria that makes the London Spirits Competition highly respected by both the drinks and bar industry, and by spirits lovers, drinkers, and consumers all over the world.”
Spirit Of The Year: Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka by Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling Co.
The Spirit Of The Year award goes to Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka, made by Ramsbury Single Estate Spirits, which scored 96 points, the highest in the competition.
The Ramsbury distillery prides itself on its sustainable practices with what it calls its “field to table” approach. It’s Single Estate vodka has a smooth and rich style, made using Horatio wheat grown on the Ramsbury estate. Each and every bottle can be traced back to the very field in which the wheat was grown.
Here’s what judges had to say about the Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka:
Ludovica Fedi, Head Bartender at The Gleneagles Hotel described the vodka as having a “sweet aroma with marshmallow notes, creamy body with interesting milk chocolate notes”.
Kieran Grieves, Head of Drinks Development at the Cairn Hotel Group said “Malty & rich on the nose, golden sultanas, raisins and sweet vanilla on the palate.
Creamy texture with bags of flavour, sweet vanilla & Pedro Ximéne on the finish. Sublime product!”
Luca Ponte from JW Marriott Grosvenor House said, “Estery notes, some fruitiness, alcohol a bit pronounced, peppery and long lasting.”
Winners by Type of Spirits
Vodka Of The Year: Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka by Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling Co. Ltd
Tasting note: Malty & rich on the nose, golden sultanas, raisins and sweet vanilla on the palate. Creamy texture with bags of flavour, sweet vanilla & Pedro Ximéne on the finish. Sublime product.
Rum Of The Year: Rum Nation by Rum Nation International
Tasting note: Beautiful notes of banana and cinnamon. Notes of leather and a little cigar smoke in the middle. Toasted bread and burnt butter in the end.
Tequila Of The Year: IZO Tequila Extra Anejo Cristalino by Belzmart Group, Llc Dba Izo Mezcal.
Tasting note: Agave and oak are predominant on the nose. A mouthfeel of cooked apple and vanilla on the palate. Well balanced and delicate. Long finish.
Gin Of The Year: Botanic Australis Navy Strength Gin by Mt. Uncle Distillery.
Tasting note: Savoury essence on the nose with fresh notes of coriander and warm cardamom giving a gentle herbal spiciness aroma. The aftertaste is creamy and permanent with some tea notes becoming present on the palate.
Whisky Of The Year: Dingle Distillery Fourth Single Pot Still Release by The Dingle Distillery
Tasting note: Smooth and elegant in the nose with a little hint of mature berries, pleasant in the mouth with a long and a complex lasting end.
Brandy Of The Year: St-Rémy Signature by St-Rémy
Tasting note: Soft aromas of vanilla and lightly toasted oak. A light and smooth flavor, with oak characteristics and subtle spice notes.
Liqueur Of The Year: Muyu Vetiver Gris by De Kuyper Royal Distillers.
Tasting note: Fragrant liqueur with flavours that are sophisticated, balanced, and very modern. Closes on a strong, piney finish.
Cognac Of The Year: A. de Fussigny Grande Champagne VSOP by A De Fussigny Sas
Tasting note: Lots of fresh and dried citrus notes with grapefruit, orange, and lemon. Savoury aromas on the palate, such as cumin and turmeric, as well as sweet spices, and sweeter notes of licorice.
Distillery Of The Year: De Kuyper Royal Distillers from Netherlands.
Country Category Winners:
United Kingdom: Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka, Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling Co Ltd.
Netherlands: Muyu Vetiver Gris, De Kuyper Royal Distillers
Australia: Botanic Australis Navy Strength Gin, Mt Uncle Distillery
Italy: Rum Nation, Rum Nation International
Ireland: Dingle Distillery Fourth Single Pot Still Release, The Dingle Distillery
France: Eau De Vie De Poire Williams Vrp, Distillerie Massenez
Japan: Enso Japanese Blended Whisky, Enso Whisky
United States: Legent Bourbon, Beam Suntory
Canada: Georgian Bay Vodka, Georgian Bay Spirit Co
Germany: Mahiki White Coconut, MBG International Premium Brands GmbH
Mexico: IZO Tequila Extra Anejo Cristalino, Belzmart Group, Llc Dba Izo Mezcal
By Judging Category
Best Spirit By Quality – Ramsbury Single Estate Vodka, Ramsbury Brewing & Disilling Co Ltd
Best Spirit By Value – Eau De Vie De Poire Williams, Distillerie Massenez
Best Spirit By Package – Muyu Vetiver Gris, De Kuyper Royal Distillers.
* Click here to see the full list of results from the London Spirits Competition.