I spent years telling people that I didn’t like gin until a friend of mine convinced me to try it with lemonade and not tonic. Zoom forward a couple of years and I have a growing gin collection that is added to nearly everytime I go shopping.
Gin is very trendy right now which means that there are a lot available and not all of them are good. It is a bit of a minefield to find the perfect gin and the one recommended to you by a friend might not be the one for you. You see each gin is made using different botanicals (although they all have juniper which is what makes them a gin). The botanicals used in the distilling process help to give the gin its tasting notes. Tasting notes can also be affected by the different distilling process.
If you know what sorts of botanicals you like then it makes it easier to choose a gin. I would always recommend reading the bottles of any new gins to see what they are made with. Take a look at some of my favourite gins below as well as a few unusual ones.
Aviation American gin
If I could only drink one plain gin for the next couple of months then it would have to be Aviation. Made famous by Ryan Reynolds, I first tried Aviation on a plane to America and I was hooked. Billed as an American Gin, Aviation has a great balance between citrus and spice. It smells spicier than it tastes as the lavender and orange peel balances the cardamon and anise perfectly.
Botanicals – cardamom, coriander, French lavender, anise seed, sarsaparilla, juniper, and two kinds of orange peel
Coming in a really close second has to be Mermaid Gin from Isle of Wight Distillery. The first time I tried this I wasn’t sure if I would like it due to its unusual botanicals but rock samphire and elderflower work really well togather. The Rock Samphire gives Mermaid Gin a slightly peppery taste that is tempered by the citrus and other botanicals to produce a smooth yet individual taste that can be enjoyed straight.
Botanicals – Orris root, Juniper, Grains of paradise, Rock Samphire, Angelica root, liquorice root, English coriander, Boadicea hops, lemon zest and elderflower.
Bobby’s Schiedam dry gin
Bobby’s Schiedam Dry gin intrigued me with its unusual heritage and then hooked me with the distinctive taste. This dutch Indonesian hybrid adds some eastern flavours to traditional western ingredients in a way that tantalises the palate and has you wanting more.
Botanicals – Lemongrass, cubeb pepper, rose hips, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and juniper.
Haysmith’s Elements Fire Edition gin
Haysmith’s is the name for Aldi’s own brand gin and brand I drink a lot. As my local supermarket, Aldi is my go-to place for gin and I love seeing what new ones they have available. They launched four-element gins earlier in the year fire, earth, air and water.
The Haysmith’s element fire gin has a mild delicate chilli and peppery taste that can easily be lost when mixed with a strong mixer. I recommend serving with soda water to allow you to appreciate the flavour combination.
Flavours – Chilli, Pink peppercorns, Szechuan peppercorns
Haysmith’s elements Air gin
Haysmith’s Elements Air gin is a total opposite to Fire. Where the fire gin was delicately spiced, Air packs a salty punch that you will easily pick up on your tongue. Lacking in sweetness this would work well with a slightly sweet citrus based mixer.
Flavours – dulse seaweed and sea buckthorn
Tarquin’s Cornish Dry Gin
Tarquin’s Cornish dry gin was recommended to me and it didnt disappoint. Made from a blend of 12 botanicals that remain a secret (although we can guess some of them) Tarquins has a great balance between the citrus and juniper with a sweet floralness that makes it a clean taste. It seems to balance classic botanicals with a light spicyness coming from cardamon, orris root and cinnamon
Flavoured full strength gins
Sent to me from a local distillery I was blown away by the fresh flavours from these gins and I was extremely disappointed when I had finished them. Many flavooured gins take on an artificial flavour yet all three of these Didsbury Gins have fresh tastes attributed to their ingredients. Created using the Original Didsbury gin these samples have put this plain gin firmly on my must try list.
Caorunn Scottish Raspberry
My first experience of Caorunn was the highland strength which is some what on the strong side for most people at 54%. Caorunn gin is a very scottish gin using 5 locally foraged botanicals – Rowan berry, bog myrtle, heather, coul blush apple and dandelion leaf alongside 6 more tradition botanicals – Juniper, coriander, orange peel, lemon peel, angelica root and cassia bark. The Scottish raspberry version cuts through the other ingredients and adds a fruity tartness with a lingering finish that makes this a delicious gin.
Bloom Passionfruit and vanilla blossom
I really enjoy an exotc fruit flavoured gin but they are usually too sweet. Bloom Passionfruit and Vanilla blossom gin delivers on taste without the added sugar and it is a revelation. The Vanilla blossom creates a substle sweetness that allows the passionfruit to take the stage and I can’t wait to use this in some cocktails this festive season.
So there you have it, some great gins for you to try.
From 1st December to Christmas eve I will be sharing a different gin each day on my Instagram so make sure you check it out.