The Savoy’s Jill Saunders Cleans Up at the G’Vine GCP Comp

The G’Vine Gin Connoisseurs Program (GCP) is going to be a tough comp to win.

Jill in action

Last year’s champion, Stephan Hinz, went on to be crowned Germany’s Best Mixologist such is the standard, and the mix of practical cocktail-creation and almost academic sector knowledge required, means that the eventual winner will thoroughly deserve the great prize.

Qualification for the week-long final in Cognac is points-based, and points can be earned in a number of ways – from completing exam modules online to listing G’Vine cocktails in your bar.

However, a attending one of the regional qualifiers gave competitors the chance to grab a significant amount of points in one fell swoop, and The Savoy’s Jill Saunders took full advantage of the opportunity at London’s Nightjar this week.

The history of gin

The GCP UK Qualifier began with a ‘history of gin’ presentation by Philip Duff, which spanned the times of Maria the Jewess (inventor of the Bain-marie), the Dutch East India Company, Gin Craze to modern times. It was the most comprehensive gin seminar BarLifeUK has attended and you can view Philip’s presentation here.

The first of two scored rounds followed Philip’s presentation – a blind nosing / tasting of a flight of gins. This would be a difficult task at the best of times, and the inclusion of a few slightly obscure brands further complicated matters.

Next came the cocktail creation round. Judged by Philip Duff, Peter Dorelli and Jamie Walker (EuroWineGate), 20 bartenders presented drinks they had created to showcase G’Vine’s unique characteristics.

The focus was very much on the taste, appearance and name of the cocktails, as opposed to showmanship, and of the drinks that BarLifeUK tasted, the standard was very high with many including floral ingredients to enhance G’Vine’s vine flower botanical.

The results

Winner Jill Saunders of The Savoy

When the maths had been done, Jill Saunders was the emphatic, and slightly shocked-looking winner, placing first in both the nosing/tasting and cocktail rounds. This gives her a bucket-load of points and a very good shout at representing the UK in the Cognac final.

The race to win a place in the GCP final is still wide open however. If you did not compete in a regional qualifier, you can still accrue enough points in a variety of ways, which include online exams, listing a cocktail at your bar and making a video. Full entry details can be found on the G’Vine website.

Jill Saunders’ winning cocktail

Alice Delysia’s G’Vine Fiz

  • 65ml G’Vine Floraison
  • 20ml Milk
  • 10ml Fresh lemon juice
  • 4ml Black tea liqueur
  • 3 Bar spoons of orange & tangerine marmalade
  • 1 spray of home blend of botanicals bitters (mix of bob’s bitters ginger, cardamon & liquorice)
  • 15ml Egg white

Shake all the ingredients and double strain into a milk bottle

Glassware: Milk bottle
Garnish: Cookies, edible flowers and 1 spray of botanicals bitters