The best gin taste tested
Drinks expert Leon Dalloway sips his way through a selection of the best new-wave, artisan gins to find his must-buy bottles, complete with tasting notes.
Gin is a worldwide phenomenon. It’s on the lips of bar-goers and drink lovers everywhere as it enjoys a resolute renaissance. The juniper elixir is now produced in all corners of the globe and the gin industry is absolutely thriving in the UK.
Here I’ve picked my favourite gins, and I’ve focused on what makes each gin unique. The botanicals I discuss are ingredients that showcase the variety of the drink in the modern age. All gins must use juniper and most also use citrus peels along with some spices – hopefully, once you read about the other components, you’ll find the right gin for you.
For more unbiased expert buyer's guides, visit our reviews section to find 200+ round-ups including taste tests of rum, vodka, whisky, plus the best gins to buy as a gift and plenty more gin inspiration.
The best gin to buy
Inspired by George Orwell’s novel 1984 and cold-distilled by booze aficionado Max Chater, this super small-batch creation is a gin full of intrigue. Chater creates his potion in a basement on the south side of Tower Bridge in London. During distillation, Victory Gin never rises above 48 degrees Celsius and the botanicals see no heat whatsoever, therefore the gin harnesses the lighter oils from the botanicals only. It's uniquely flavoured, with an instantly iconic label.
Warner Edwards Rhubarb Gin
The flavoured gin to end all other flavoured gins. For this version, Tom Warner and Sion Edwards take their classic Harrington Dry Gin and instead of diluting the distillate with water they use pressed Queen Victoria rhubarb juice. Sound utterly delicious? It is, with a royal stamp of approval to boot.
Manchester Three Rivers Gin
Manchester Three Rivers only started producing tasty liquid in 2016. A stone’s throw away from Manchester’s Northern Quarter, master distiller Dave Rigby has produced a gin of intrigue and ease. It harnesses a creaminess that has the nostalgic nose of a Murray Mint. Rigby adds oats to a traditional selection of botanicals that serves to offer a smooth mouthfeel. Best when stirred with a touch of dry vermouth and an olive (or three).
Burleigh’s London Dry Gin
You can find Burleighs Distillery near the Burleigh Wood in Leicestershire. Creator Jamie Baxter was wandering through the woods and struck gold in the form of the silver birch tree, which he combines with elderberry, dandelion and burdock to create a gin that soars with a eucalyptus and menthol flavour profile. Baxter and his team frequently roll out special editions, so keep your eyes peeled.
Silent Pool Gin
Made in the Albury Estate in the Surrey Hills, this gin takes its name from the mystical pool that the distillery resides beside. The gin is a sublime distillation using two distinct styles of juniper, then lavender, orange, pear, camomile, elderflower, Essex-grown kaffir lime leaves, linden flowers and rose petals, among others, adding a touch of excitement. This is a new gin making serious waves in the juniper world.
St George Terroir Gin
This distillery is situated in a former aircraft hangar over the bay from San Francisco. They produce gins, absinthe and a coffee liqueur, but the jewel in St George’s crown is their Terroir gin. It has a taste that’s as refreshing as fresh rainfall, and it features a hint of Douglas fir and all sorts of other delicious piney notes. A sip of this will have you feeling like you’re strolling through Yosemite National Park!
East London Liquor Co Batch 2 Gin
East London Liquor Company fired up their stills in the summer of 2014, and they wasted no time in announcing themselves to the world with this belter of a gin. Lavender, sage, fennel and thyme all provide lovely herbal flavours, producing an English summer garden style of gin, perfect for sunny afternoons and balmy evenings. Plus, it packs a delightful punch at 47% ABV.
Not only does this gin taste amazing, the owners give 15% of all profits to two charities that focus on elephant conservation. They use five botanicals native to Africa, including baobab, blended with more classic European-style botanicals such as elderflower and apple. Complex, yet distinct in delivery.
Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin
This gin uses a vacuum style of distillation which allows the process to occur at a much cooler temperature. This harnesses the lighter, more aromatic oils of the botanicals, which include camomile, elderflower and ginger, creating a harmonious balance of flavour that is difficult to produce at higher temperatures. The result is a stunningly well-balanced gin.
Death’s Door distillery rip up the rule book by using only three botanicals. They solely use botanicals that grow wild on their native Washington Island in Lake Michigan: juniper, fennel and coriander seed. It’s simple yet beautiful. The dramatic name derives from the notoriously choppy body of water that passes by Washington Island.
Gin cocktail recipes
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This review was last updated in September 2020. 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.