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The purists might sniff, but gin is moving into some surprising new flavour and aroma territories, with a number of new brands throwing additional ingredients into the mix. Oak ageing, grape infusion and seasonal fruit are all helping to continue our love affair with this botanical beauty.
Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin
This Northamptonshire-based distillery is owned by husband and wife team Tom Warner and Tina Keogh-Warner, who have taken the concept of sourcing seasonal English fruit and combined it with their already hugely popular Harrington Dry Gin. Rhubarb is the flavour of the moment, and this fine example – which traces its origins to the original crop of rhubarb grown in Buckingham Palace's kitchen garden during the reign of Queen Victoria – has a wonderful tangy, crisp freshness, backdropped by a delicious fruity note. Drink this lengthened with a dry tonic over ice and you’ve got yourself a perfect summer sipper fit for a king or queen.
Red wine gin
Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin
What’s not to like here? A premium Australian gin from industry favourites Four Pillars, which is combined with the dry spiciness of Shiraz grapes! The grapes are left to infuse in the gin for eight weeks before the juice is then pressed out and blended with yet more gin, taking on a wonderful dark purple hue in the process. Makes a killer Bramble cocktail, or add a hearty measure to a glass of prosecco.
Malfy Gin Con Limone
Produced in Turin, this flavoursome Italian beast brings together some classic botanicals, including Italian juniper, angelica and coriander – and then adds in an infusion of very zesty lemons which are sourced in both Sicily and the Amalfi coast. An undeniable burst of citrus dominates the flavour, but in a marvellously refreshing way. Works best with tonic, plenty of ice and, if you’re still craving more citrus, a twist of oily Amalfi lemon zest.
Eden Mill Love Gin
Although Valentine’s Day may be a distant memory now, the summer of love (well, a gin romance…) is definitely on the cards, and Eden Mill’s Love Gin will certainly warm even the coldest of hearts. Traditional botanicals (yes, it still packs a juniper-laden punch) come together with both rose petals and hibiscus to give the gin a complex yet floral appeal. Works really well with a flavoured tonic such as Double Dutch’s Pomegranate and Basil, with a handful of frozen strawberries tossed in.
Sipsmith Strawberries and Cream Syrup
Wimbledon may be over for another year, but the stats remain extraordinary: in 2017, 28,000 kilos of fat, juicy strawberries were greedily consumed during the event, along with gallons of cream. In homage to this quintessentially English tradition, Sipsmith has delved back into history, producing a range of syrups to combine with its soon-to-be-classic London Dry Gin. The result is exactly what you would hope for: beautifully fresh, sweet strawberry notes with a hint of tartness, backdropped with an unctuous creaminess. The pack also includes a 70cl bottle of Sipsmith London Dry Gin.
Buy from Sipsmith (£37)
Edinburgh Gin Plum and Vanilla Liqueur
Technically a liqueur because of its 20% ABV, this is yet another wonderfully fruity homage to lost summer days in the garden, sipping on a tall glass of something. The tangy, sweet plum notes combine with an aromatic sweet Madagascan vanilla flavour, alongside orange peel, lemongrass, mulberry, lavender and pine buds. It’s a great ingredient in a spritz, or if you fancy pimping up your glass of prosecco.
Boutique-y Gin Company Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin
Pineapple is a particularly divisive flavour – don’t get us started on the combined delight/disgust of the Hawaiian pizza – so as the flavoursome core of a gin? Well, it’s sensational. This variety uses whole pineapples, which are spit-roasted with demerara sugar to give them a caramelised coating. The resulting flavours are then extracted and combined with a bold, juniper-forward gin. Yes, it’s sweet, pineappley and distinct, but it’s also surprisingly moreish and almost liqueur-like. Mix with sparkling water and ice for a long spritzer-style drink.
X Cocoa Gin
Some might say that a chocolate-flavoured gin is verging on madness. However, when it's as good as this, it certainly brings another level of moreish indulgence to your favourite tipple. Created in partnership with Belgian chocolatiers Xolato, X is infused with cocoa beans from Colombia, alongside hazelnuts from Piedmont in Italy, Madagascan vanilla pods and more than a dozen other botanicals, including a hint of chilli for a touch of heat. With this much flavour, you’d be forgiven in thinking that your palate is going to be overwhelmed, but fear not – silky dark chocolate takes the lead, followed by the lingering notes of spice, zest and a final cocoa dryness.
Elephant Sloe Gin
It would be slightly churlish to leave out sloe gin from our roundup, given that it's arguably the original and best of all the flavoured gins – and almost certainly kick-started the explosion which shows no sign of slowing down. Elephant is a fine example of this classic, where plump sloes are macerated in an award-winning London dry gin (made in Germany) for several months, before being sweetened and bottled. The result is a very fruity, tart, rich spirit, which isn’t cloyingly sweet like a few other examples on the market. Try this over ice with a Sicilian lemon tonic and you may find you have a new summer classic on your hands.
East London Liquor Company Ex-Oloroso Sherry Barrel Aged Gin
We had to include something distinctly ‘aged’ here, and if you’re looking for sophisticated, oaky and spicy, then look no further than this incredibly balanced masterpiece. Oak-aged gins have been trending for a little while now, but they’re very complicated to get right. Take the gin out of the cask too soon and all you’ll have is a slightly coloured version of what you put in. Leave it in too long and you’ll lose the character of the gin in favour of the oak. The chaps at EllCo have nailed this: think dry, spicy oloroso notes, with hints of dried fruit, backdropped by all the botanical balance of their award-winning gin. A complex spirit to unwind with, in a tumbler over a large cube of ice.
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This review was last updated in January 2019. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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