In an international first, leading Australian distiller Sacha La Forgia of Adelaide Hills Distillery (AHD) has taken out one of the world’s most prestigious gin awards, Distiller of the Year at the Icons of Gin Awards in London overnight.
From humble beginnings in his laundry in 2015, La Forgia is now running a large scale and incredibly sustainable distillery in South Australia’s Hay Valley.
One could say he is walking in the footsteps of the gin greats in being bestowed this accolade, previous winners include Lesley Gracie from Hendrick’s.
The young distillery beat out established and emerging brands from around the world in an industry that is getting more crowded by the minute. In Australia alone, the craft gin industry volume is growing at +28% on last year.
Mr La Forgia said: “I am truly humbled to receive this award, there is nothing I love more than making great tasting gins and knowing that we do it in a way which is sustainable for our precious environment. Cheers to that!”
While many of the distillery’s individual products have taken out awards at competitions such as the San Francisco Spirits Competition and the American Distilling Institute Awards over the years, this award is given based on a distiller’s full range of spirits, and judged by some of the world’s most knowledgeable gin aficionados.
There’s no surprise in the fact that AHD is growing at a rate almost twice as fast as the average Australian gin distillery.
Mr La Forgia said: “I’m proud to say I’m committed to crafting spirits that are uniquely Australian, while paying respect to gin styles that have come, so I can offer gin lovers a uniquely Australian gin selection.”
His passion for telling a local story through Australian botanical ingredients is about more than just their unique flavour, it stems from a mission of “Crafted for Better” which encompasses everything the distillery does.
This is manifested in the fact that AHD create zero waste water, while the average distillery creates 10–15 litres of waste water per litre of alcohol. They draw power from 300kw of solar panels, use spent grain to feed cattle and put to use fruit from the orchards on site which can’t be sent to supermarkets.
Even the spirit itself is made from a waste material that comes from wine, an instinctive move for La Forgia who first started making spirits with his family from leftovers from their annual batch of wine.
The delicate grape based spirit, along with their water, which is treated on site to become incredibly pure, provide the perfect blank canvas upon which they vapour infuse flavours for a perfectly balanced and truly delicious end product.
With his unique approach and world class product, La Forgia has been able to ride the wave of the craft spirits boom in Australia. The Australian craft gin industry was in its infancy when he first started out, and was worth over $12.2 million in 2018.
The distillery’s core range is their 78 Degrees gins, but they’re no one trick pony. They also make Bitter Orange, an Australian aperitif and a Native Grain Whiskey, which instead of being made from thirsty crops like barley it leans on Wattle Seed and other endemic grass species, which can grow without any inputs throughout Australia.
“One of the best parts of receiving this award is that we didn’t even enter, Gin Magazine had been watching us, and liked what they saw.”
“Considering how many great craft distilleries are around these days it’s really special.”
Adelaide Hills Distillery was founded in 2014 by winemaker Sacha La Forgia. After completing his degree, Sacha left Australia to work 13 vintages in famed wine-making regions across the globe. During his final stop in Frulia Italy, Sacha spent time at a Grappa distillery where he met a distiller who recognised his ability and passion and encouraged him to return to Australia and start his own distillery.
Sacha hand crafted a copper still and in 2015 launched 78˚ Classic Gin, a product that quickly gained a reputation as a high quality small batch gin showing unique Australian characteristics.
About The Icons Of Gin Awards
Gin Magazine hosts two annual awards; Icons of Gin and Gin Magazine Hall of Fame.
Icons of Gin celebrates the people, products and places that make the category so dynamic and exciting, whilst our Hall of Fame recognises those individuals who have made a lasting contribution to the industry.
The World Gin Awards are hosted by the World Drinks Awards and presented at the Gin Magazine Awards along with Icons of Gin and Gin Magazine Hall of Fame. Products entered into the World Gin Awards compete to be recognised as the best in their categories, country of origin and overall, the World’s Best Gin.