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Despite gin feeling like a quintessentially British product, it is in fact Holland that’s credited as the birthplace of this spirit. Regardless of its origins, gin is now being produced to a fantastic standard across the globe and, thanks to worldwide shipping, is available for us all to try. Drinks expert Leon Dalloway give us his 10 must-try bottles of gin from distilleries across the world.
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin – 41.8% ABV (Australia)
Drive east out of Melbourne for 45 minutes and you’ll find yourself in the windy roads of the Yarra Valley. Swing around a corner into Healesville and, bam, the Four Pillars Distillery appears like a big gin mirage in a forest of vines. It makes exceptional liquid here. The headline act is the Rare Dry Gin which sits at 41.8 ABV and harnesses native Aussie botanicals such as finger lime and lemon myrtle. However don’t forget about its Shiraz gin, it’s as good as it sounds. Serve the Rare Dry with Fever-Tree Med Tonic and half a finger lime.
St George Terroir gin – 45% ABV (USA)
Situated in an ex-US Navy airport hanger over the water from San Francisco, St George has been doing things excellently since it bought the site off the original founder, a German expat with a penchant for eau de vie. The Terroir smells and tastes like a forest – the use of Douglas Fir elevating this gin to a special level. Serve with Indian tonic and garnish with rosemary for the crispest G&T that side of the Atlantic.
The Kyoto Distillery Ki No Bi dry gin – 45.7% ABV (Japan)
In Ki No Bi, The Kyoto Distillery has set out to create the perfect gin, using everything in its power to create something stunning and unique. The botanicals are picked in season and vacuum packed, then grouped and distilled in batches where they’re most harmonious. They’re rare, native (hinoki and yuzu) and flavoursome. Even the water is a step ahead of most gins. It’s not demineralised and therefore has flavour, yet is beautifully pure. I like this drink as a highball with soda and something aromatic.
Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin – 41% ABV (Ireland)
Originally Glendalough launched a range of seasonal gins which got the gin world humming. Once it had captured people’s attention, it released this beauty. At Glendalough, which houses one of the most picturesque loughs in Ireland, it employs a local forager to collect native ingredients, which is quite exceptional, even in the world of gin.
These include red clover, yarrow, oxeye daisy, wild raspberry, blackberry leaves, wild rose, watermint, sweet woodruff, lemon balm, sweet cicely, lady’s bedstraw and bell heather – quite a bouquet! The Wild Botanical gin gives you a real taste or Ireland (beyond the black stuff). Served wonderfully in a Negroni.
Manly Spirits Australian Dry gin – 43% ABV (Australia)
Manly is home to one of the best beach communities on the planet. It’s had surf culture since the 60s and now it has gin culture too. The Australian Dry uses sea lettuce from the Northern Beaches (picked at low tide by the Manly Spirits team), Tasmanian mountain pepper leaf and Australian anise myrtle to give it the native vibe.
Another belter from the Manly team is its Coastal Citrus, which uses various citrus tasting botanicals to impart a one-off zesty flavour profile. Oh and finally, it produces a coffee liqueur. Well, Aussies love coffee, right? Serve the Aussie dry in a mixed citrus Collins with a dash of bitters for a variation on the Aussie classic Lemon Lime & Bitters.
Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin – 47% ABV (Germany)
Question: How do you balance 47 botanicals and make a gin taste good? Answer: German engineering (and flair). That’s exactly what Monkey 47 has done. The distiller balances 47 native and global herbs, spices and citrus for a stunning finish, which still holds true to the key botanical – juniper.
It’s more complex than most gins and needs to be treated with skill but once that’s done it releases its full; potential. Monkey 47 is in part responsible for the global gin renaissance, being one of the gateway gins for people going from the mainstream to the underground. Serve as a Martini with a slapped sage leaf.
Kyrö Napue Gin – 46.3% ABV (Finland)
Napue Gin of the Kyrö Distillery is born from five Finnish pals and a load of rye. It’s a modern gin, but it takes inspiration from both gin and whisky. It uses a neutral rye base and distils its botanicals separately to harness each seasonal and wild flavour. The lineup includes cranberries, meadowsweet and sea buckthorn to give it a noticeably Nordic taste. The only question that remains is, does the distillery have a sauna? Well, you’ll have to visit to find out. Serve with a homemade mixed berry cordial for a banging Nordic Gimlet.
Aviation American Dry Gin – 42% ABV (USA)
Yes, if you hadn’t noticed, gin has just got its first celebrity owner. Step aside Diddy and Clooney, Reynolds of the Ryan variety is in town. I think we struck gold with our celebrity, but more importantly, the liquid he purveys is delicious. Distilled in Portland, which is stateside nirvana for everything that is craft, and made from a rye base, Aviation is a hybrid gin with a classic botanical mix. It works well in old-time classics such as a Martinez or a Tom Collins. The name is inspired by a classic cocktail, so when you next see this bottle in a bar why not order an Aviation made with Aviation?
Elephant Dry Gin – 45% ABV (Germany)
Elephant Gin gives 15% of its profits to two elephant foundations in Africa. So you’re drinking gin while doing good for wildlife. That’s reason enough. Built by a couple in Germany and starting life in an Eau de Vie distillery, the gin is delicate and unique. It uses some native African botanicals such as Devil’s Claw, Lion’s Tail and the baobab fruit. Then there’s elderflower and apple giving it some European flavour too. Try the Elephant Strength if you like your gin even stronger. Serve it in a Bramble for a party classic.
Never Never Southern Strength Gin – 52% ABV (Australia)
South Australia is a wine paradise, and these days where there is wine, there is gin. Never Never Distilling is at the forefront of a new wave of Aussie gins, however, it has stayed true to tradition with its award-winning varieties. For those who love Tanqueray 10, Plymouth or something similarly flavoured, this liquid is for you.
It’s a classic gin with a big ABV (52%). In November 2019 the makers moved into a brand new, all-singing, all-dancing distillery with visitor centre in the Mclaren Vale. Southern Strength is served best in a Martini, I like it garnished with something savoury to snack on. But that’s me.
The best gin, tried and tested
This review was last updated in April 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.