New Zealand spirit named best in world London dry gin in the world

A New Zealand gin has been named the best London dry gin in the world at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.

Scapegrace Gold took out the London Dry Gin trophy 2018 in London, beating more than 600 other gins to take out the supreme award, which had a 50 per cent increase in entrants from last year.

Veteran judge Steve Beal said Scapegrace Gold was “staggeringly good”.

“Making gin this good is not easy or accidental, we salute the blender. [It’s] a magnificent gin,” he said.

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“[Scapegrace Gold] has the classic juniper burr running through it, joined by powerful but balanced spice and root flavours combining to make a complex, teasing expression demanding of attention on the palate,” said Beal.

The winning gin was founded by Auckland-based friends Mark Neal, Daniel McLaughlan, and Richard Bourke four years ago.

It is now stocked in 35 countries, including some of the best cocktail bars in the world.

Neal said the team were blown away by the recognition.

“The irony isn’t lost on us that our gin is the best London dry gin in the world, even though we’re based on the exact opposite side of the world to London,” said Neal.

“We spent years researching and developing our recipe, from day dot we were committed to creating a gin for New Zealanders which we could take to the world,” he said.

Scapegrace Gold is distilled in small batches with 13 botanicals – lemon, orange, coriander, cardamom, cloves, juniper berries, nutmeg, angelica root, liquorice root, orris, cinnamon, cassia bark, and tangerine.

Tangerine was the “lucky 13th botanical” that differentiated Scapegrace Gold from Scapegrace Classic, said Neal.

“It might seem surprising to see a New Zealand gin win this award when you think of the history and tradition behind the artisan liquor in the UK and Europe — but the reason our gin tastes so clean, is because of our water which we source from a natural aquifer just north of Christchurch,” he said.

The aquifer is one of the last natural aquifers in the world, supplying water fresh from the Southern Alps which takes about 80 years to trickle down from the snowy mountains.

McLaughlan said Scapegrace was designed to shake up the liquor industry by creating something for the new generation of gin drinkers.

“We wanted to shift away from the old classics, the stuff you’ll find in your parents’ liquor cabinet, by introducing a modern and progressive way of doing gin,” said McLaughlan.

“Everything from our ingredients, to the processes used, and even the bottles they come in pays tribute to the craft of gin making; but also to being a bit rebellious from those traditions and paving a new way for the craft. Thus our name, Scapegrace,” he said.