a list of best gins

Ken Gargett

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no monkey 47? not sure of the credibility of this. but it is done on averaging scores of spirit critics.


The World's Best Gins

The range of botanicals – the ingredients that give gin its flavor – is growing each year.
© Gin Foundry | The range of botanicals – the ingredients that give gin its flavor – is growing each year.
We run the rule over the best examples of one of the world's fastest-growing spirits.
By Natalie Sellers | Posted Wednesday, 31-Jan-2018

Looking for flavor? Welcome to gin country.

Juniper, coriander, lemon peel, angelica root and cassia are just some of the flavors that spring to mind when it comes to gin. Originally a herbal tonic developed in the 1600s in the Netherlands, gin is the stuff of lotions and potions, concoctions and elixirs. And several hundred years later, its popularity shows no signs of slowing down – in fact the trend for using strange and exotic botanicals is on the up. The emergence of specialist gin bars across the world inventing increasingly weird and wonderful cocktails is testament to the spirit's versatile nature. Ingredients as diverse as rhubarb, sage and gunpowder tea are often thrown into this new breed of G&T, playing on gin's ability to oscillate between sweet and savory depending on which botanicals were used in the making. 

Related stories:
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And what counts as gin is only getting broader, no longer shackled to the traditional methods of Plymouth, Old Tom and London Dry; the evolution of contemporary gins, where juniper is no longer necessarily the main attraction, demonstrates its growing avant-garde nature.

Even within the traditional styles, reinvention is key to staying on trend. Hipsters love nothing more than to sip on an underground London Dry produced by a little-known distillery, whose branding inevitably features small mustachioed dogs in steampunk getup.

Below are what we consider to be 10 of the best, having consulted our database. All have an aggregated critic score of 90 points or more, and they are as diverse in nature and origin as the botanicals that made them. Enjoy.

Zuidam Dry Gin, Netherlands Our first gin fittingly comes from the Netherlands. Founded in 1975 by Fred van Zuidam, the distillery started small, comprising of one copper still and a production line – all in all covering just 300 square meters. Since those early days, the distillery has expanded to 3600 square meters, four copper stills and the enlistment of his wife and sons. So family aside, what of their gin? The Zuidam Dutch Courage Dry Gin is distilled from nine carefully selected botanicals, starting with juniper berries and orris root from Italy, coriander from Morocco, lemons, oranges and angelica from Spain, licorice root from India, and, finally, cardamom and vanilla bean from Madagascar. The resulting spirit has won several awards at the highest level and with a score of 91 points from our aggregated critics, it is the highest scoring on our list. Not bad for an average price of $22.

Aviation Gin, Oregon Our second gin comes from over Stateside. Although gin is distinctly European in origin, America has created its own unique expressions. Often made by distilleries to keep things ticking over while they wait for their whiskeys to age, American gin has now created an identity all of its own, and Aviation has taken it one step further. Juniper is widely considered to be the very heart, soul and lifeblood of gin so, for Aviation founders Ryan Magarian and Christian Krogstad, to relegate it to merely a note in the background is a brave step into the unknown. Sharing the stage in equal measure with juniper are sarsaparilla, orange peel, coriander, cardamom, anise and lavender. And this bold move has certainly paid off, garnering an aggregated score of 90 points from our critics. If you are looking for a unique gin with a bit of a twist, then look no further – for an average of $31, this will give any cocktail a bit of a lift.

Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, Scotland Next is a Scottish classic. Beloved in the US, where it has a huge following, Tanqueray has a long, rich history, and the No. Ten Gin especially so. Named after Tiny Ten, Tanqueray's #10 still, No. Ten broke the rule book when it became the first gin to use fresh citrus in its botanicals, playing to its American audience by pushing juniper a little further out of the limelight and making grapefruit and company the rockstars. This is cleverly reflected in the base of the elegantly ridged bottle which mimics that of an old-fashioned juicer. And $33 is about what you can expect to pay for a gin that's often seen as the quintessential choice for a martini.

New Amsterdam Straight Gin, California It's back to the US for our next powerhouse gin. Often classed in the new(ish) and growing category of contemporary gin, New Amsterdam – like a fair few of its American counterparts – pushes juniper aside in favour of lemon and orange. That's not to say there is no juniper – juniper, is of course the mainstay of any gin, and the only mandatory ingredient – but it is no longer the star of the show. So for those of you who prefer a zestier, more summery style of drink, New Amsterdam could be the gin for you. And it's got an average price of just $11.

The one botanical that must be in gin is juniper – the plant that gives gin its name.
© Herbco | The one botanical that must be in gin is juniper – the plant that gives gin its name.

Dillon's Rose Gin, Ontario, Canada  Moving up across the border into Ontario, we find Dillon’s Distillers, which specializes in producing small batch spirits. Founders Geoff Dillon and Gary Huggins met over Dillon's wish to marry Huggins' daughter, with Huggins' only accepting the match if Dillon made something of himself and, with that, the distillery was born. Dillon's Distillery has gone on to produce a range of spirits in an effort to put Canadian spirits back on the map. And it is the Rose Gin that has made it onto our list. It's made in the traditional London-style and then infused with rose hips and petals. With an average score of 90 points, this pretty pink number will set you back $39 on average, but what you get is pure craftsmanship.

Hana Gin, California Moving back down to California (I know what you’re thinking – for a spirit with a history deeply entrenched in Europe, this list has taken a decidedly America-centric turn, but give credit where credit's due – they do do a rather grand job of it) we go to the evocatively named Treasure Island, which sits just off the mainland of San Francisco. Named after the Japanese word for flower, Hana specializes in just one product, this handcrafted gin. Using the rare method of vacuum distillation to bring out the very best of the four botanicals used: lavender, orange peel, lemon peel and Albanian juniper – Hana believes that less is more and adheres to a core philosophy of keeping it simple and letting the ingredients shine. And shine they do, with a score of 94 points from Wine Enthusiast and our own aggregated critic score of 90, you can grab some for a modest average of $20.

Damrak Gin, Amsterdam, Netherlands And now we go to Europe, gin's spiritual home, where we will be for the remainder of this piece. The Netherlands, where gin was first concocted, has a longstanding love affair with the spirit and Amsterdam's Damrak doesn't disappoint. Taken from the Dutch word "inner harbour", in reference to the trade routes used when the herbs and spices used to make gin were first brought in, Damrak is comprised of 17 botanicals including honeysuckle and juniper. Made by Lucas Bols following one of the oldest recorded recipes for gin, it undergoes distillation five times resulting in a product with an aggregated critic score of 90 points all for the very reasonable price of $22. 

Broker's Premium London Dry Gin, England Finally, we arrive in England, which may not be the birthplace of gin but, as a country, it has certainly taken to gin production (and drinking) like a duck to water. And Broker's wholeheartedly embraces Britain's undying affection for the spirit, with a quirky gentleman in a bowler hat clutching his umbrella gracing the bottle – the distillery's take on the archetypal stockbroker. And it is there the quirkiness stops – bucking the current trends for using exotic, far-flung botanicals that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Lewis Carroll ditty, Broker's sticks resolutely to its 200-year-old recipe. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke … and broke it most certainly is not, with an aggregated critic score of 90 points and an average price of $22.

Citadelle Gin, France Dashing across the channel to the southwest of France, we find our penultimate gin. Its historical roots actually lie in the city of Dunkirk, home to the citadelle from where it takes its name. The gin is still produced in the small copper pot stills particular to the 17th Century. Citadelle combines the essence of 19 botanicals: juniper still reigns supreme but with cinnamon, nutmeg and genepi (a relative of wormwood) helping to make up the count, the resulting spirit is aromatic and refined. And, again like almost every other gin in this list, this has an aggregated score of 90 points, matched with an average price of $26.

Hayman's Old Tom Gin, London, England Last but not least, we return to England's less than sunny shores. Hayman's dates back to 1863 and is the country's longest serving gin distilling family. With  five gins to the range, each one represents a stylistic moment in the history of gin; from sloe gin to gin liqueur, the range is a neat summary of the spirit's evolutionary nature. It is the Old Tom Gin that makes it onto this list. Inspired by the Tom Collins and Martinez cocktails of the 1880s, the Old Tom is rich and rounded and more than worthy of our final spot. With an aggregated critic score of 90 points and an average price of $26, this is a fine tipple to finish on.

I don't know about you, but all this has made me thirsty. Surely somewhere in the world it's six o'clock?

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Big fan of Dillon's Gin, never tried the rose though, will get some next time I am at the liquor store. The also make some great bitters for cocktails. 

Also noticed that Citadelle was in there, it is very inexpensive and I find it great for gin sodas with lime or mixed with Canada Dry Bitter Lemon. One of my favorite mixer gins and holds well on it's own. It's just so smooth and tastes very good.

Quick note on the Canada Dry Bitter Lemon, I think it's better than tonic, but that's just me. I can only get the soda in Florida which is a pain as my uncle only goes there once a year (he brings back about 40 little bottles and splits them with me).   

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  • 1 month later...

Only one from the list I've tried was the Old Tom during a gin tasting lunch. I remember it being quite smooth and drinkable straight. From memory I liked West Winds The Broadside Navy Strength the most but I'd had quite a few drinks and the palate might have been a bit affected.

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