We always recommend you keep some house gins on your trolley, familiar gins like Beefeater London Dry and Tanqueray London Dry – these are brilliant beverages and absurdly inexpensive. But here are some gins that are boutique in production with interesting botanical bills or backstories, they cost a bit more but if you’re looking to upgrade, here are some suggestions
Sacred Gin: Sacred are botanical pioneers and employ a vacuum distillation process that heightens flavour intensity. Added to which, distiller Ian Hart distils it in his living room, with pipes running around the bookcases. We’re seriously, it’s utterly bonkers. Along with citrus, juniper and cardamom you’ll find nutmeg and Hougari frankincense in his vibrant gin, another excellent martini bedfellow.
Berkley Square: From the historic Greenall distillery this gin asks the question: How does your garden grow? If, like us, it’s paved over or a communal garden full of weird neighbours, then try Berkley Square. Using botanicals including juniper, coriander, angelica it also includes basil, sage, French lavender, cubeb berries and Kaffir lime. Light but floral, herbal and soft on the pine, just like a garden, right?
Adnams First Rate: Notable for its boutique grain base, Adnam’s distillery uses the fermentables from malted barley, wheat and oats in its neighbouring brewery. Add 13 botanicals including juniper, cassia bark, vanilla pods, angelica root, caraway seeds, fennel seeds and thyme, and you discover a spirit full of crisp botanical bursts on top of a sexy, smooth mouthfeel.
St George Terroir Gin: California distiller St George specialises in authenticity of flavour and digs deep into the surrounding area to create a gin that hums of the botanicals sat in the West Coast sun. Douglas fir, California bay laurel and coastal sage are all in there to back up the piney gin. Powerful stuff.
Plymouth Navy Strength: If there’s any chance you’re going to sprinkle your gin over gunpowder then lord knows you want the stuff to light again after. You’ll get in a right pickle otherwise. So it was that Coates & Co. distilled a ‘proof’ gin for British Royal Navy that remained flammable when martinis were spilled during 19th century cannon capers. This incarnation comes in at 57%abv and is bursting with blistering barnacles of botanicals to keep salty seamen happy on the high seas. Big and beautifully bold with pine, sage, coriander and citrus on nose and palate. Not for landlubbers.
Burroughs Reserve: Beefeater London Dry is celebrated for its citrus notes, original distiller James Burroughs a stickler for selecting the very best peels. This gin is faithful to his 1860s nine botanical recipe, has been distilled in 19th Century copper pot still and then rested in Jean de Lillet oak casks. Oak aged gin is a new direction for the category and this exponent is something you can easily chill and drink neat as you might a martini. Pine and citrus as you’d expect with a soft oak and light pepper.
Herno Juniper: Amongst this Swedish spirit’s bright light botanicals you’ll find meadowsweet and lingon berries but the significant story is the aging process, the gin is rested in special juniper wood cask for 30 days. Consequently you’ll find it resinous and spicy with powerful pine off the juniper, but it sweetens up with a touch of tonic.
Sipsmith Sloe: Sipsmith introduced London to the first copper still in the city for nearly 200 years when it launched in 2009 and make a host of heroic spirits, including a super duper London Dry. But stretch your horizons by sampling the Sloe. Making your own sloe gin is a ballache no doubt, these chaps have done it for you using wild, handpicked sloes to deliver tart, cherry berry up front and a pepper gin crack at the back.
Tanqueray No. Ten: Tanqueray London Dry is the original luxury upgrade. It uses a minimalist but steely base of juniper, coriander, liquorice and angelica. Tanqueray No. Ten builds on this, ramping up the juniper and adding whole Florida oranges, Mexican limes, grapefruits and chamomile. The result is outstanding. Citrus scents jump up the nose and carry across the tongue with the pokey pine from the juniper and soft chamomile to mellow. Marvelous in a Martini.