The humble gin & tonic has become something of an adventure in experimentation. It’s hard to imagine a time when we were happy with just ice and a slice as we now lavish our balloon glasses with pink grapefruit wedges, peppercorns, thyme and mint.
But rather than limit drinkers to an innovative garnish, today’s gin distillers are going all out to impress us with new recipes and flavours, including citrus versions. Citrus gin was actually far more popular centuries ago, but it’s been making its way back onto our supermarket shelves recently, so much so that even supermarkets are launching their own citrus-inspired gins.
Not sure if it’s for you? Once you find one you like, you’ll be hooked. What’s particularly surprising about the citrus gins we tasted is that no two tasted the same.
Some went to town on sugar and took inspiration from cakes and nostalgic pick ‘n’ mix (lemon drizzle and lemon sherbert were among the varieties we tried). Others went for a sour and sharp tang. Some were so sweet they were almost a liqueur, while others had just a hint of citrus and remained heavy on the juniper.
The majority of the citrus gins that we tried were lemon or orange, but pink grapefruit was also popular. Some brought in unusual botanicals, often local to the distiller. We found less common citrus fruits as well, including Japanese yuzu, and we learned a few things along the way – who knew the Rangpur lime from Bangladesh was actually an orange?
Each gin we tried had a story behind it, an inspiration that had created something unusual. Some of the flavours that made the list were created sustainably from grain to bottle. All are unique and innovative, plus the range itself was incredibly varied. We tested almost 30 citrus gins to decide which were the best for your money. Discover our top picks below.
Best citrus gin – orange and pink grapefruit
Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla – 41.3% ABV
Flor de Sevilla, Tanqueray’s Spanish-inspired gin, was the resounding winner in our tasting session. The orange gin was awarded near-perfect scores across the board in every single category. While some gin brands go in for the ‘more is more ethos’, Tanqueray isn’t one of them. There are just four botanicals in this one. That means all the good stuff – the vibrant orange aroma, the intense citrus flavour, the strong piney juniper – have got room to shine.
Sipsmith Orange & Cacao Gin – 40% ABV
Most of the citrus gins you try will have you longing for lazy summer evenings in a shady garden or dreaming of the Mediterranean, thanks to their Spanish and Italian influences, but Sipsmith’s Orange & Cacao is reminiscent of an entirely different sort of holiday. It makes us think of Christmas and smells very much like a chocolate orange – the most festive kind of chocolate there is.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Orange & Blossom Gin – 37.5% ABV
This is a very good citrus gin when you take into account that a bottle only costs £16. The scent is light and summery, the orange blossom hits just the right citrussy note and works well to brighten the scent. Don’t expect to be struck by the aroma of juicy Italian oranges, it is much more subtle than that, and its lightness is just what you want on a sultry midsummer’s evening.
Tanqueray Rangpur – 41.3% ABV
Rangpur limes are, in fact, not limes at all. They’re a hybrid fruit, somewhere between a mandarin and a citron. The juice is very sour, but it smells very sweet. These dimensions are what makes this a really interesting drink. If you’re after a hit of orange flavour with lots of complexity, this is an excellent choice.
Manly Spirits Coastal Citrus Gin – 43% ABV
When you buy a citrus gin, you probably don’t expect it to taste of the sea, but this gin certainly does. It’s a taste that’s not quite salty (that would be too obvious), more of a light mineral tang to the finish. It’s like no other gin we’ve tried before. A citrus gin that will make you think of breezy walks on the beach.
Chase Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo Gin – 40% ABV
It’s odd to call a gin confident, but that’s exactly what Chase’s pink gin creation – Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo – is. Everything about it is sure of itself. It’s bright, it’s bold, it’s pink. It’s a really lively vibrant gin. There’s something about pink grapefruit gins that carry an aroma like no other citrus spirit, and this has the headiest scent of the bunch. It introduces itself to you before you’ve even poured it into the glass. We are very, very pleased to make its acquaintance.
Malfy Rosa Pink Grapefruit Gin – 41% ABV
Pink grapefruit is the focus here, but there’s a lot more going on in the background of this rosy-hued gin. It treads a very fine line between sharpness and lightness. The result? A wholly drinkable, refreshing gin that you’ll be reaching for throughout summer.
City of London Distillery Murcian Orange Gin – 41% ABV
The City of London Gin Distillery made quite a name for itself when it launched in 2012. Made with Italian oranges from Murcia, the aroma is lively, so it was a surprise to find that the flavour wasn’t overly strong. If you’re looking for an orange gin that will appeal to everyone, and that will look handsome on your drinks cabinet, this is it.
This review was last updated in September 2020. If you have any questions or suggestions for future reviews, or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at email@example.com. For information on alcohol guidelines, read our guide to drinking responsibly.
Have you tried a citrus gin that you could recommend? Leave a comment below.