Small Grose Vale distillery wins world’s best

July 6, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Karu Distillery Lightning Gin has taken the trophy for world’s best Distilled Dry Gin (Contemporary) at the  International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).

The gin is crafted in Grose Vale at the foot of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales by husband and wife team, Nick and Ally Ayres. Just thirty years old, Ally Ayres is the head distiller at Karu and one of the youngest owner/operators in Australia. Husband Nick, a former grip in film production, says he runs around making everything else happen.

The two opened the distillery in August 2018, setting up shop on the Grose Vale property owned by Ms Ayres’ aunt and uncle. In 2019, their Karu Lightning Gin won double gold in San Francisco.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” says Mr Ayres, “Fire, pandemic and all these horrible things happening. These insane periods of having to evacuate the distillery.

“But for us, winning the trophy tells us that we have not lost any of the quality in that time.”

The gin is a nod to Ms Ayres’ Estonian heritage. Karu is the Estonian word for ‘bear’. She says, “Like a bear, we focus on strength, not speed.”

Judges described the Karu Navy Strength Lightning Gin as:

“Layered and compelling, juniper and spice run alongside other botanicals. Great mouthfeel with citrus at the fore and good botanical boldness. With added water, the floral parts open up a lot with waves of spice. “

This year was the biggest in spirits judging in IWSC’s history and 23 trophies were awarded in all.

In the judging process, medals – bronze, silver, gold and gold-outstanding – are first awarded to spirits that show complexity, balance and character. Once the scores are determined, a second judging round takes place to award the trophies. The Spirits Judging Committee re-taste all gold-winning spirits to determine the trophy winners.

Other gold medal winners include Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz, Never Never Distilling Agro Gin, Seppeltsfield Road Distillers 2020 Barossa Gin, Lark Distillery Chinotto Cask Release Whisky, Old Young’s Common Gin, Beenleigh Artisan Distillery Flood Rum, Mountain Distilling Company Mountain Gin and Mountain Whiskey, Rusty Barrel Spirits Premium Australian Vodka, Killara Distillery Tasmanian Bush Liqueur and Single Malt Whiskey.

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