G’Vine Connoisseur Program: Day 1

After flying in from around the globe, a dozen bartenders plus assorted other participants have descended upon Cognac to duke it out for the title of ultimate gin bartender. G’Vine Gin has put significant emphasis on quality so some of the tests have turned out to be more difficult than some of the competitors suspected, but that’s a good thing. As for extra-curricular activities, G’Vine has done some cool things, like “make your own gin” which proved to everyone that making a good gin requires skill. More details and pictures after the jump.

Competition Day 1 started off with the gin identification test. Each participant had to nose and taste 12 gins and attempt to identify them by name. Obviously hard, especially if you’ve never tasted those gins. After the easy start, the competition moved onto the speed portion of the competition.

For this part of the event, each bartender was required to make 5 drinks (Negroni, Jasmin, G’Vine June Floral Martini and two highballs). Execution was the key, with time and speed being an important element. Executive Barback Shawn Soole performed admirably in his new role.

After the challenge, we headed to the vineyard to learn about and pick one of the key ingredients used in G’Vine products: the grape flowers. G’Vine developed their gin recipe with the flowers from the grapevine which adds a unique flavour component. The interesting this is that pick the flowers is done by hand, which is extremely labour intensive. However, 12 bartenders make for good cheap labour, so they were put to task for about an hour earning their keep.

After paying their dues, everyone was bussed to the distillery to learn about how G’Vine is made. The process is typical of other gins, except for the grape flowers and instead of neutral grain spirit, grape distillate is used in the product.

The last challenge of the day was to create a gin using flavour distillates (for example cubeb pepper macerated in alcohol and then distilled). There were some interesting creations including “It Tastes Like a Super Nova in My Mouth” by Nick Nemeth and “Crap Shoot Gin” by Brian MacGregor. It’s not the easiest task to make a balanced gin.

Anyway, that’s the quick update on Day 1. It’s 2:00AM Cognac time and even the Party Room 301 at the hotel has quietly faded into silence (I just went and checked while waiting for photos to upload). Anyway, you can check out the photos at the address below and I should have another update tomorrow.