The inaugural South African Craft Gin Awards, presented by Checkers LiquorShop, took place on Wednesday, August 21. Held in the suave Planet Bar of the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, the evening was teeming with creatives from the South African gin scene.

It is the largest gin competition in the country and the only dedicated one for craft gin distillers in South Africa.

Upon arrival, we were given a generous gin class to encourage us to try the nominee’s delicious creations. After circling the room my first gin of choice was the delectable Blind Tiger Gin. I sampled both the original and the blue, both were sensational.

Before I could try something else, the ceremony began and the atmosphere was brimming with excitement.

Twenty-six locally distilled craft gins received the highest accolade of Double Gold awards from an entry of 110 gins from over 50 distilleries all over South Africa.

The Double Gold award-winning gins are:

– A Mari Atlantic Ocean and A Mari Indian Ocean gins

– Copper Republic African Dry and Copper Republic Rooibos & Grapefruit gins

– Die Dröe Rooinek Dry Gin

– Flowstone Bushwillow Gin

– Geometric Classic Cape Dry Gin

– Ginologist Spice Gin

– Harmony Aloe Ferox Gin

– Indlovu Gin – Elephant Dung Gin

– Jin Gin Olive & Honey and Jin Gin Tomato & Sweet Piquante Pepper gins

– Knut Hansen Dry Gin – a South African version of the German original

– Lieben Sailor Lemon & Lime Gin

– Magalies Lavender Gin

– Monks Medella Blueberry Infused and Monks Mary Jane Hemp Infused gins

– Nuy Legacy and Nuy Mastery gins

– Old N1 African Dry and Old N1 Fijnbos Fields gins

– Old Packhouse Moringa Gin

– Pienaar & Son Empire and Pienaar & Son Orient gins

– Smiths Elderflower Dry and Smiths Spiced Dry gins

– Wild Rose Fynbos Gin

The gins were blind tasted by an expert panel of judges with in-depth knowledge of the drinks industry:

– Roger Jorgensen – the father of South African gin

– Dr. Anna Trapido – wine and spirits judge and food anthropologist

– Thierry Lubala – mixologist at South Africa’s largest gin bar at Asara Estate

– Jean Buckham – owner of The Gin Box, a craft gin club showcasing different SA craft gins

– Hanneli van der Merwe – oenologist and co-owner of Barker & Quin Mixers

– Tammy Frazer – perfumer and owner of Frazer Parfum

Commenting on the awards, Roger Jorgensen said, “South African gin distillers are superb when they ace it as they develop their own style and techniques. Given the plethora of wonderful botanicals here, it is no wonder that the Cape is the new Gin Capital of the world.”

On the future of the gin industry in South Africa he added, “the future is bright and SA can be a global player, it has only just begun. Gin has been around for a long time and due to its versatile nature will not disappear overnight.”

“Checkers LiquorShop is proud to partner with the inaugural SA Craft Gin Awards to highlight and celebrate South Africa’s diverse range of world-class gins,” said Jean Marais, Business Manager for Checkers LiquorShop.

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