Celebrating gin excellence
The Icons of Gin awards are intent on finding the very best people, products and places within the world of gin. They celebrate the hard work that goes into every bottle, the stories behind each brand, the retailers who open the world up to us and the bars that provide wonderful settings for us discover new favourites. Since their inception, these awards have shown a heartwarming camaraderie between gin professionals – one of the aspects that makes it such a wonderful industry to work within.
Distiller of the Year
Four Pillars Gin
One of the first (and now largest) craft distillers in Australia, Four Pillars has been dedicated to gin since launching in 2013. Founders Cam, Stu and Matt have played a major part in putting Australian gin on the map: from flavour innovations using local ingredients, to experiments with barrel ageing and infusion. Four Pillars is in the process of building a new facility at its home in the Yarra Valley, which will include increased production capacity and dedicated hospitality spaces.
Master Distiller of the Year
Never Never Distilling Co.
Tim Boast is dedicated to creating bold, innovative and exciting gins, from Never Never’s core juniper-forward gins to its more experimental releases. He directs a team of five production staff, but has personal creative control over innovation, quality and products, and the reputation the Australian distillery has gained on the global stage is testament to his exacting standards. His fearless experimentation with flavour and technique has led to the creation of other groundbreaking liquids such as Black Juniper Amaro, a world-first made with roasted juniper, and Stockholm Syndrome, Never Never’s answer to Scandinavian aquavit.
Archie Rose Distilling Co.
Sustainable Distillery of the Year
Brewstillery is a brand built on the principle of recycling. It was created by Danish brewer Thomas Bilgram and French recipe developer Laurent Severac, in collaboration with a Vietnamese distiller. In looking for a way to use batches of beer that were unsuitable for sale, Thomas and Laurent created their Mashed Up Gin, the world’s first gin distilled from upcycled beer. Using a recipe inspired by Dutch genever, the gin is distilled with a mash from Thomas’ company Furbrew Craft Beer. The bottles used for Mashed Up Gin are themselves made from recycled beer bottles.
Cape Byron Distillery
Visitor Attraction of the Year
Shed 1 Distillery
Shed 1 Distillery owners Andy and Zoe Arnold-Bennett launched their experiences programme in January 2020, but it was called to a halt by the pandemic just two months later. Undeterred, the couple started hosting online gin tastings and developed a virtual ‘make your own’ bathtub gin guide. Once able, they began hosting social bubble tours, tastings, and afternoon ‘G&Teas’ with homemade sweet treats, which have gone down a storm with guests. Shed 1 currently hosts Cumbria’s only ‘make your own gin’ experience, and it also holds a licence as a wedding venue. Despite space constraints, Andy and Zoe have worked hard to craft unique, entertaining and informative experiences.
Brand Innovator of the Year
Sponsored by WestRock
Four Pillars Gin
Australia’s Four Pillars Gin has put experimentation at the forefront of its distilling ethos. In the past year, the distillery team has pushed its innovative spirit to the limit with releases including Olive Leaf Gin, a bottled Negroni using three different gins, the fifth edition of its Australian Christmas Gin, two variations on its original Rare Dry Gin, and its first single-cask gin release, S31 (barrel aged in a 40-year-old sherry cask). It also launched the fourth gin in its global Distiller Collaboration series: Spice Trade Gin with Stranger and Sons in India.
Communicator of the Year
Sponsored by Rankin
Emma Stokes began reviewing cocktail bars on her website, ginmonkey.co.uk, in 2009, before shifting to focus on gin tastings and cocktails. In the years since, she has garnered a huge social media following for her gin and cocktail-related content. She has authored books including The Periodic Table of Cocktails, judges for numerous international spirits competitions, has been the global organiser of World Gin Day since 2013, and also consults gin brands and bars on social media and brand building. Her wealth of gin and cocktail knowledge is encyclopaedic, and is matched only by her huge generosity of spirit and desire to educate others.
Hotel Bar of the Year
Gin & Juice
at No 131, Cheltenham
Sitting alongside No 131 in the Cotswolds town of Cheltenham, Gin & Juice has dedicated itself to providing an unrivalled gin selection and exceptional service for its gin-loving clientele. It has curated a selection of 450 gins and gin liqueurs from across the world. The menu includes sections covering ‘experience’ level (from ‘Beginner’ to ‘Master’) and different styles such cask aged, citrus and tropical, and rhubarb and pink gins, as well as a growing list of non-alcoholic gin alternatives. Drinks from gin menu are served in the venue’s own bespoke gin goblets.
Own Brand Supermarket of the Year
In the development of its own-brand gin range, Lidl has always had its finger on the pulse and followed the movement of trends in the broader gin industry. Lidl Ireland has focused on harnessing trending but traditional flavours in its Wild Burrow collection of Irish gins. The range includes Distilled Irish Gin (with spicy, floral and green aromatic notes), London Dry Gin (with warming spice, floral sweetness and fresh citrus), and Raspberry and Thyme Pink Gin (juicy red berry notes with a herbaceous edge).
Design Agency of the Year
Sponsored by Rankin
As a long-standing partner of Bombay Sapphire, Knockout has supported the brand to cement its aesthetic with striking, contemporary bottle designs. It helped the brand break into the ready-to-drink market with a sophisticated, engaging design for its gin and tonic cans, and its designs for recent expressions such as the fruit-flavoured Bombay Bramble and limited-edition Bombay Sapphire Sunset used striking colours and accents that evoked the spirit of the liquid. In 2021 it developed the bottle design for the super-premium Premier Cru Mercian Lemon Gin, using a fine cotton-touch label and original etchings.