Gin is having a moment. Actually, gin is having a decade. So many gin bottles that have hit the market in recent years that it can be hard for even us to keep up. Many of them are being produced by craft distillers while they wait for their whiskeys to come of age. But some big brands are also releasing new and exciting bottlings that have piqued our taste buds.
While juniper is a required ingredient for gin, other botanicals used are totally up to the distiller. With this in mind, it makes sense to have a variety of bottles on hand for your home bar. If you’ve got a gin drinker or a budding cocktail enthusiast in your life, an offering of a gin bottle is just the ticket. To that end, we’ve crafted a gin gift guide for those needing a cheat sheet while at the shops.
For the Classic Gin Drinker
If you’ve got a classic gin drinker on your hands, chances are they’ve already tried Tanqueray, Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire. They’re bold with the juniper and reliable for all the classic drinks from a Martini to a Gin Gimlet. These classic brands below don’t get quite the market share, but each one is deserving of your purchase.
Interestingly, Hayman’s line of gins all include the same 10 botanicals, but with varying proportions. It is in the London Dry Gin where the botanicals are used in such a way as to highlight the classic style. There’s really no gin cocktail where this bottle wouldn’t work.
Junípero is made with aniseed, cardamom, cubeb, grains of paradise, and bitter and sweet orange peel, along with the requisite juniper. This gin is not shy about its juniper or its proof. Clean and crisp—it’s a classic London dry gin made in the heart of San Francisco.
Created by a Dutch distillery for spirits merchants Berry Bros. & Rudd in London, production of this London Dry Gin is overseen by Dr. David Clutton. Six botanicals go into its distillation—juniper, orange peel, grapefruit peel, angelica root, coriander seed and cardamom—which occurs in a direct-fire pot-still following a steeping period overnight in a neutral grain spirit. The final classic offering in this gin gift guide is a true gin lover’s gin.
For the Modern Gin Drinker
Modern gin has also been referred to as contemporary, new western, new wave, or new American. This style isn’t legally defined, but in general, modern gin places less of an emphasis on juniper and its piney flavor. Botanicals not classically used in classic London Dry style are often highlighted. In addition, there are many craft distillers using botanicals that grow in the same region the gin is produced, so keep an eye out for those. These modern gin gift guide picks are sure make an impression.
American Aviation Gin was released in 2006 by House Spirits Distillery based in Portland, Oregon. As of early 2018, actor Ryan Reynolds is the proud owner of the brand, but its production hasn’t changed. Seven different botanicals—juniper, elettaria cardamom, lavender, sarsaparilla, coriander, anise seed and dried sweet orange peel—are utilized here. Traditionalists may turn their noses up, but that just means more for the rest of us!
Roku is the first gin released by Suntory, a brand better known to whisky drinkers for its Yamazaki and Hakushu single malts and for its blends Toki and Hibiki. The name Roku is Japanese for “Six” and refers to the six Japanese botanicals used. These include sakura flower (cherry blossoms), sakura leaf (cherry leaf), sencha tea (green tea), Gyokuro tea (refined green tea), sanshō pepper and yuzu. These along with eight other traditional gin botanicals are utilized.
Nolet’s Silver Gin begins with a mash made from European wheat. While the juniper’s piney flavors provide the back note, the gin is full of freshly-sliced peaches, ripe raspberries and roses. Perhaps it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s definitely worth a try. Great for sours, Gin & Tonics, punches or anything with bubbles.
For the Whiskey Drinker
Aging gin in barrels is not a new concept. While not all genever—the mother of all gin styles—is aged in barrels, some do spend a little time in oak. In addition, some Old Tom gins get to spend some time in oak too, although again, it isn’t required. What is new is the sheer volume of other types of barrel aged gins hitting shelves these days.
As we mentioned earlier, craft distilleries have been making gin as well as whiskey. It only makes sense to repurpose those barrels. Why not throw some gin in there to see what happens? Usually, just a few months is all you need, but don’t be surprised to see age statements in the 5-12 year range. The oak softens up the botanicals while also adding its own influences to the spirit. These picks for the whiskey drinker are fine to drink on their own, but feel free to mix away.
This barrel-aged gin is made by Philadelphia Distilling Co., founded in 2005 it is the first craft distillery to open in Pennsylvania since Prohibition. Taking the brand’s flagship Bluecoat Gin which is made with four botanicals—juniper berry, coriander seed, citrus peel, and angelica root—this product ages for three months in new, charred American oak barrels. The cedary, vanilla flavors from the oak make this a perfect gin for an Old Fashioned cocktail or just to sip on its own.
Created by Bols’ Master Distiller Piet Van Leijenhorst, this genever is made from over 50% malt wine. In this case, long fermented rye, corn and wheat were used for the grain portion. The botanicals include hops, cloves, anise, licorice, ginger and others in addition to juniper. It is aged for at least 18 months in French Limousin oak barrels and sold in one-liter sized clay bottles. Give it a whirl in your next Negroni.
First released in the US in late spring 2018, Citadelle’s Réserve Gin is made with 22 botanicals (yuzu, genepi and bleuet are added to the standard Citadelle Gin recipe). Five different types of wood—acacia, mulberry, cherry, chestnut, and French oak—are used to mature the gin for five months. Afterwards, the aged gins are placed into a patented eight-foot tall egg-shaped oak receptacle to marry before bottling at 45.2% ABV.
Go beyond these gin gift guide recommendations with Distiller.