What Makes a Multi-Award-Winning Gin?
Author: Robert & Bhagya
Award Winning Gin
What makes the best classic gin cocktails or the most delicious gin and tonic? Why of course it’s the quality of the gin! While the most important judge is always you, we want to demonstrate that Maharani Gin is a world-class spirit and one of the best ways to do this is by competing in spirit and gin competitions. Maharani Gin has competed against the best in the world and consistently won.
In just over one year and during a global pandemic Maharani Irish Gin has won multiple awards for quality, taste, and experience. How did we do this? How did we create a multi-award-winning gin?
Rebel City Distillery
Our Mission is to create great spirits that reflect unexpected connections and cultural vibrancy and to explain how our conception of Maharani Gin was crafted into an award-winning gin we need to go back to the beginning of the story.
Rebel City Distillery is a boutique distillery where we craft, distil and bottle a unique range of spirits on-site. Fusing a longstanding heritage of craft with a splash of experimentalism, Rebel City Distillery was founded in 2020 by husband-and-wife Robert and Bhagya Barrett alongside Robert’s father Brendan Barrett.
Rebel City Distillery is breathing new life into midcentury former Ford factory building and heralds a new wave of craftsmanship in Cork as it is the first distillery within its city limits for almost 50 years.
Maharani Gin celebrates a fusion of Cork and Kerala cultures, from where Robert and Bhagya come from and its conception was born from Robert’s technical expertise and Bhagya’s global perspective and creative direction.
Robert Barrett: Master Distiller
Robert is a biochemist turned fine spirits expert who, following a number of years researching cancer cell migration, spent more than a decade learning the art of crafting and distilling premium spirits around the world. Robert completed an MSc in Brewing & Distilling at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, which counts many stalwarts of the craft drinks industry among its alumni. Robert then spent several years honing his expertise in Ireland and Canada with a number of renowned distilleries and drinks businesses.
“The taste profile was essential to me. I wanted Maharani to represent something new and spent months experimenting with the formulation. Maharani is at the forefront of a new style of gin, a balanced mix of spice, citrus and sweetness rather than a juniper, pine forward traditional gin. A huge element of this is our botanical selection which Bhagya procured.”Robert Barrett
Bhagya Barrett: Business Development Manager
A software engineer by trade, Bhagya’s expansive career has seen her work in large cities Chennai, India and Madrid, Spain before moving westwards to Ireland, where she completed an MBA at Dublin Business School. Bhagya is multilingual, speaking Tamil, Hindi, English and Spanish along with her native language, Malayalam.
This experience of different languages and cultures has provided Bhagya with a worldly perspective, and her own cultural identity inspired Maharani Gin. Bhagya identified the organic women’s farming co-operative in Wayanad, which is her favourite part of Kerala, as the perfect location to source Rebel City Distillery’s fine botanical selection.
“Our signature botanicals are sourced directly from a women’s organic collective in Kerala, India, where I’m from. We have seen how they work and the quality of the product is exceptional. Vanamoolika specialize in the conservation and cultivation of unique plants while supporting employment in the local community.”Bhagya Barrett
A fusion of creative cultures, a gin of truly transcendent taste, Maharani is the ﬁrst release from Rebel City Distillery. Born as a tribute to our Co-Founder Bhagya’s home state of Kerala, India, our gin is zested and spiced with unique botanicals, which are blended and distilled with craft in our Cork Distillery.
The word ‘Maharani’, meaning Queen, is a tribute to revolutionary women everywhere. Our award-winning gin is zested with pomelo fruit, and uniquely spiced with cassia and nutmeg-mace. This heady combination results in a gin of truly transcendental taste, a liberation of spirit and spice.
“Cassia and nutmeg are heavy on the nose. Zesty on the palate with grapefruit. Light in juniper. Smooth and citrusy, it is a celebration of spices.“London Spirits Competition 2021
Competitions & Awards
With over ten years of experience in the industry our Head Distiller, Robert, knew the importance of the right awards to recognise excellence, taste and prestige. The basic format for each competition is similar, a sample is blind taste tested by a jury and evaluated.
However, each competition has its own unique criteria that assess what makes an award-winning gin. Who should the jury be made up? Is taste the main criteria? Is how the gin appears important? Each award Maharani Gin has won is a further reflection of its quality in every area.
Gold: The Gin Masters
Within less than six months of launching Maharani Gin won gold at The Gin Masters competition. The Gin Masters’ mission is to find and reward the finest gin brands on the world stage.
Chaired by The Spirits Business and a panel of leading spirits specialists, the gins are judged in a blind tasting.
The Gin Masters is unique in its exclusive use of completely independent expert judges, including journalists, retail buyers, bartenders and educators. As such, entrants can rest assured that their product has been assessed constructively and without bias.
The Gin Masters awards are a recognition of excellence.
Bronze: Craft Spirits Berlin
The competition for the Craft Spirits Berlin Awards is dedicated to handcrafted spirits. It is Europe’s largest contest in this area. In early spring Maharani Gin added a prestigious bronze medal from the Craft Spirits Berlin to its accolades.
Like other competitions it is a blind tasting, however, the jury is made up of distillers, sommeliers and sensory experts. The criteria assessed include smell, taste, balance and typicality. Each product is assessed individually and by at least five jurors.
Craft Spirit Berlin is Europe’s premier event for handcrafted spirits
The London Spirits Awards
In April 2021 Maharani Gin won a silver medal at the London Spirits Awards, which is the ultimate seal of approval in the global spirits industry. In order to receive this distinction, Rebel City Distillery needed to score highly in three different categories: Quality, Value and Packaging.
In contrast to other spirits competitions, where distilling ability and technical expertise sometimes receive primary consideration at the expense of drinkability, the goal of the London Spirits Competition was to award and celebrate the spirits that spirits drinkers actually want to buy, whether at a retail store or ordering off the menu at a restaurant.
“When looking at spirits brands consumers are looking for value and experience. So at the London Spirits Competition, we feel that it is important to look at the elements of the product that contribute to that – of course there is quality, but also critically appearance and overall value.”CEO Sid Patel
With over 50 years’ experience the IWSC is the world’s largest and most influential international spirit awards company. Achieving an IWSC award isn’t easy, but that’s what makes the medal so well respected. In June 2021 Maharani Gin won bronze in the IWSC with its first entry.
The IWSC run a tightly structured, rigorous tasting process. They use the ‘double-blind’ method, which means samples are tasted in pre-poured numbered glasses to ensure their experts never see a bottle. Each spirit is judged by a whole panel in sync, allowing for group discussions.
Some of the world’s most eminent spirit professionals, including Stephen Beal, Dawn Davies MW, Joel Harrison, Arthur Nägele and Richard Paterson are judges for the IWSC.
The most important judge of all
We are very proud of our awards and the recognition that gives us but our most important judge is always you. We appreciate the rigorous testing that Maharani Gin goes through by entering these competitions but in the end only our customers can give us the ultimate seal of approval. Thank you to all our customers who have tried Maharani Gin so far and we would love to hear your feedback. For those who haven’t tried Maharani yet check out our Shop and Stockist pages. We’ll be waiting for your review.