An annual event, hosted by The George Inn in Frant, near Tunbridge Wells, this was the 9th such competition, it attracted 36 entries from as far afield as Canada, Germany and Scotland, raising over £2,000 for charity. Over 200 people attended, most making a small donation to sample the gins.
Last year’s runner-up, London-based Mother’s Ruin, scooped the top prize in the commercial category, with local Anno Distillery of Marden in Kent, being awarded the silver medal.
There were also notable entries from The Lakes Sloe Gin in Cumbria, Devine Vineyards in British Columbia in Canada, Raisthorpe Manor Fine Foods of Malton, in North Yorkshire, Addingham Fruit Liqueurs in West Yorkshire, and Demijohn from Edinburgh, who were all Highly Commended.
On the winning sloe gin, judges noted: “intensely flavoured with delicious rich notes of plum and almond, balanced perfectly with the gin botanicals. It is made gin using a recipe handed down from the owner Becky Griffith’s own mother. She employs an old school approach of cold infusion over a very long period of time, which is hand-made, hand filtered and hand bottled.
“We cut no corners, our sloe gin takes at least a year to become ready for sipping,” said Becky, adding, “We forage our sloes from all over Essex and the eastern fringes of the City, with the Essex sloes being particularly fine and full of flavour.”
The homemade category, which attracted more than 30 artisan entries, a record number, was won by pub regular George Shaw, a restaurant marketing consultant, who attributed the success of his winning concoction to the use of demerara, sugar, cinnamon, almonds and dried apple, measured in traditional Imperial, rather than metric, units.
“With two German contestants this year, I’m just glad it didn’t come down to penalties,” said Shaw.
The runner-up was Liz Rayner from Mark Cross in East Sussex.
The four judges who awarded marks for character, sweetness, clarity and were Henrietta Green, the award-winning food writer, journalist and broadcaster, Michael Voigt, General Manager of L’Oscar Hotel, a 5* boutique hotel opening in London in April, Alan Beauseigneur, a Master Mixologist from the luxury tea and fine food purveyor, The East India Company and Simon Brewster, Senior Private Client Manager and Buyer from Fine & Rare, the 3rd largest wine merchant in the UK.
Commenting on the awards, judge Henrietta Green said; “It was a great day and fascinating to taste this typically British drink. The standard was interestingly high and a perfect winter’s treat.”
All proceeds of the event were donated to the MS which supports people with Multiple Sclerosis – www.mssociety.org.uk One of the Sloe Gin World Championships founder, ‘Merlot’ Mike Mattews, who died suddenly in September this year, had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. The ‘Merlot’ Mike Matthews Memorial Trophy will be now presented each year to the winner of the home-made category.