Gin honouring 'remarkable' Scott of the Antarctic explorer nominated for top award

Sean Crean with his Pioneer gin, which made it to the final of an international competition

Sean Crean with his Pioneer gin, which made it to the final of an international competition - Credit: Laura Cotton

A Suffolk gin dedicated to the creator's great uncle, a polar explorer described as an "unsung hero", was shortlisted for a top award in an international spirit competition.

Pioneer, the first drink developed by 49-year-old Felixstowe man Sean Crean, was named as a finalist in the Gin Guide Awards 2021.

It was beaten to the top gong in the traditional gin (up to 42% ABV) category by a spirit made in Berkshire.

Mr Crean, a conveyancing solicitor by trade, developed Pioneer in memory of his great uncle Tom Crean, who was one of the "unsung heroes" of polar exploration.

The drink was beaten to the top award by a Berkshire gin

The drink was beaten to the top award by a Berkshire gin - Credit: Tallulah Smith

Tom was one of a party of eight who were set out for the South Pole on Robert Falcon Scott's Terra Nova expedition in 1910.


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It was on this part of the journey that Tom crossed the Ross Ice Shelf on a 35-mile solo walk, sustaining himself with two bars of chocolate and three biscuits and no sleeping bag or tent, to save the life of Edward Evans.

For his efforts, Tom was awarded the Albert Medal for Lifesaving - which has since been replaced by the George Cross.

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Tom also took part in the Endurance voyage in 1914 and died in 1938, aged 61.

He has now been honoured for his achievements with Mr Crean's Pioneer gin, with a picture of the explorer and a map of the journey illustrated on the bottle's packaging.

Polar explorer Tom Crean, whose life has been commemorated in the Pioneer gin

Polar explorer Tom Crean, whose life has been commemorated in the Pioneer gin - Credit: Scott Polar Expedition

The spirit was launched last November, but research on its development began two year ago.

Pioneer gin is distilled in the north Italian village of Casoni and is blended to be drunk with a neutral tonic and a slice of orange.

Mr Crean said he was unaware of the extent of his relative's achievements until a 2000 book by Michael Smith, An Unsung Hero, profiled Tom's life.

It was this book that "brought the story to the world", Mr Crean said.

He added: "I am delighted to have come so far in such a short space of time. For me it’s an epic achievement, though nowhere near the achievements of the great man himself.

"We were chuffed to get to the final. I hope Pioneer gin is a fitting tribute to a remarkable man."

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