Gin is a versatile clear spirit that can be enjoyed mixed with tonic, neat, on the rocks, or blended in your cocktail of choice. This complex drink has the least requirements of most spirits created in the world. The only regulations to follow is that it needs to include juniper, and the bottling strength needs to be at a minimum of 37.5% ABV, or 75% proof.
Added to gin could be a wide variety of botanicals, which make the flavoring different from brand to brand. The depth of the gin selection that is available on the market is limitless, ranging from fruity to herbaceous, citrusy, or even woodsy and spicy.
What Qualifies as Gin?
Similar to vodka, gin is a clear grain spirit, but the redistillation process is different than that of vodka. Gin is redistilled with botanicals, the main ingredient being juniper berries. It is fairly simple to make, and it is not limited to specific regions. It can be produced pretty much anywhere junipers are available.
It is also one of the most accessible spirits in terms of cost and taste. It is also one of the most preferred spirits for mixology.
A Bit of Gin History
Contrary to popular belief, gin originated in the Netherlands, not England. The predecessor of modern gin was a distilled malt wine that was introduced in the 13th century. Gin takes its name from this spirit that was called ‘Jenever’ in Dutch.
Its original purpose was medicinal and the taste was a bit rough. That’s why the use of botanicals and juniper was introduced, to attenuate the unpleasant taste.
Types of Gin
There are quite a few types of gin out there, and the difference lies in the flavor profile.
London Dry Gin – The most popular and well-known type of gin. Classic and very dry, with a prominent taste of juniper. No artificial flavors are used in this type of gin, nor any additions can be made after the distillation process.
Plymouth Gin – This is the one variation of gin that must be made in Plymouth, England. Characterized by a lower ABV, it has a silkier mouthfeel and less juniper intensity. The subtle salinity that can be detected is attributed to the vicinity of the seaside, and it has slight earth notes.
Dutch/Genever Gin – The modern malt gin uses malt grains, similar to the original distilled malt wine. It tends to be darker in color, and the taste richer, more complex.
Old Tom Gin – A derivative of London Dry Gin, sugars or sweet botanicals are added during the redistillation process. The taste is therefore sweeter on the palate.
Compound Gin – This is a very flexible category of gin. The anything-goes process is followed, which results in a wide array of flavors. The second step in the process is missing, which makes the compound gins great for mixing, and a lot more affordable.
Sloe Gin – Sloe Gins are more approachable than regular gins. Due to its lower ABV, it is often categorized as a liqueur. Sloe berries that are steeped in gin are what give this spirit its flavor, similar to that of raisins.
Bathtub Gin – This variety was introduced during the Prohibition era when amateurs used to make gin in their bathtubs, hence the name. The modern version though is upgraded, and the method they use for flavor infusion is steeping of a cold compound.
How Is Gin Made?
The grain cereal used is mixed with water to create a mash of fermentable sugars. The base varies from corn, grapes, potatoes, rye, or wheat, although grains are the most common. Yeast is added, which turns the sugars into alcohol. Then the alcohol is strained and it leaves behind a wash, which is then distilled in column or pot stills. Once the mix reaches 95%ABV, botanicals are then infused.
The gin will be either steeped, infused using vapor, or by vacuum distillation. For the final stage, the gin is then stored in barrels for different amounts of time, depending on the distillery. Either sherry or chardonnay ex-wine barrels can be used, which gives the gin a light amber color.
Now that the technicalities are out of the way, we’ll take a closer look at the 25 best gin brands in the world.
Remember Snoop’s 1994 hit ‘Gin and Juice’? Well, this is his little side project he collaborated on. The California laidback lifestyle is portrayed with the fruity and slightly sweet finish to this gin that uses seven botanicals in its mix.
Distilled in Portland, Oregon, this American gin is a little less heavy on the juniper than the traditional London dry. They steep their botanicals in macerating tanks for 18 hours, then they proceed with the redistillation and blending of flavors. The result is a nice, flavorful gin.
23. Vim & Petal
A Middle West American dry gin that is distilled in Ohio, Vim & Petal combines 18 botanicals into their recipe. Freshness and bite make for a unique offering that uses red winter wheat as a base. The softness and spiciness of this spirit blend well together.
Their flagship American dry gin is made at the Durham distillery in North Carolina. They infuse the botanicals by vapor, which are then combined with vacuum distilled citrus, cucumber and honeysuckle flowers. A unique flavor that is worth a try.
21. Greenhook Ginsmiths
This gin is brought to you from a distillery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Vacuum distilled in a copper pot still, it is infused with some great botanicals. You may be able to detect the hints of elderberry and cinnamon, because the juniper is not too overwhelming.
20. St. George
Highlighting the Northern Californian terroir, the three offerings from the St.George distillery are interesting in their own way. One is steeped with botanicals from the coast, the other infused with 19 different botanicals, and the last is made from a mash bill and flavored with six botanicals.
19. Barr Hill
This unique gin that is distilled in Vermont has only juniper as a botanical that is infused into the spirit. The flavors you notice are derived from the raw honey that is loaded with floral botanicals. Their unique process gives the gin a different taste that goes perfectly in a variation of the Old Fashioned.
Belonging to the unofficial American dry gin category, this brand is distilled in Philadelphia. Made from certified organic botanicals, it has dominant juniper notes that are complemented by the more subtle coriander and citrus aromas.
Distilled at the San Francisco distillery Hotaling & Co, Junipero is an American brand that was first introduced in 1996. Bright and crisp flavor that is dominated by juniper aroma, with other botanicals following. It finishes with a citrus burst on your palate. The bottle has a new, trendy design too.
A cheap, simple gin, it is very popular because it’s highly satisfying. Featuring strong notes of juniper, it also has hints of herbs and black pepper that round things off nicely. An unassuming gin that is perfectly appropriate for a gin martini anyday.
A nice bottle to add to any display, this gin is created by the House of Suntory in Osaka, Japan. This special gin brand offers a blend of six botanicals, which give this spirit its delicious taste. This blend is added to the eight more traditional gin botanicals, amongst whom the juniper is the dominant flavor.
This is by far the best gin on this list to be enjoyed neat. Offering an adventure every time you sip it, this gin only came out with a single offering of a Spiced London Dry gin. It is made from Indonesian Cubeb berries, Moroccan coriander, and Indian black pepper, which makes this a spicy offering.
13. Ki No Bi Kyoto
This Japanese artisanal gin distillery brings a smooth and highly enjoyable spirit that can be sipped. Might be a bit hard to get your hands on one, but if you can, it is definitely worth it. The spirit base is distilled from rice, and it is combined with juniper, bamboo, kinoki wood chips, and yellow yuzu.
This gin brand was started in 2012, when Simon Ford, a former Plymouth brand ambassador, decided to branch out on his own. The gin is made in London by Master distiller Charles Maxwell, who steeps the botanicals for 15 hours before the distillation process.
The brand uses copper pot stills that haven’t been used in London for almost two centuries. Their modern take on London dry gin is what they claim is their signature. Flavored with juniper, of course, it also has a wide array of botanicals added to the mix. For example, ground almond, cassia bark, and orris root are among the main aromas you might notice.
10. Nolet’s Finest
The oldest distillery in Holland produces one of the best gins in the world. Their range offers two gins: the Reserve and the Silver. They are excellent for sipping, although great in cocktails as well. The Reserve includes notes of crocus flower, saffron, and verbena, for a unique palate. The Silver, on the other hand, features lots of florals and fruits. They can both be enjoyed chilled or with ice.
9. Monkey 47
This German dry gin originated in the rich landscape of the Black Forest. Wing commander Montgomery Collins is the name behind this brand, which he started distilling at his guest house. He named it after Max the Monkey, a monkey he sponsored after the war when the Berlin Zoo was being rebuilt. The 47 botanicals that are present in this blend give it its unique profile.
Named after the Amalfi Coast in Italy, this gin encapsulates the essence of the area to a tee. The original blend is dry, and it features the dominant flavors of juniper and citrus. Notes of anise and coriander can be noticed for a pleasant palate. If you want a special offering, try the Con Arancia, featuring the bittersweet flavor of the Sicilian oranges.
7. The Botanist
This Scottish gin is located in Islay, and it offers a taste of the wild. The layered complexity of the taste is blended by mixing 22 botanicals that grow in the area. The flavorful spirit tastes great neat, or you can chill it if you prefer. Either way, it tastes very unique with the herbaceous and floral notes. It also makes for a great mixer with an intriguing profile.
An Irish gin, Dingle is made using a secret recipe of botanicals. This London Dry gin includes notes of bog myrtle, heather, rowan berries, and hawthorn, among many others. The goal at the Dingle distillery is to create a unique character by using their own formula. The unique blend of Irish botanicals balances the traditional juniper flavor perfectly.
Produced at the same distillery since the late 1700s, it is one of the oldest brands in the world. The gin carries botanical mixtures of angelica root and lemon peel that are added to the omnipresent juniper. The combination is ideal for any cocktail base, that is one of the reasons why the brand is so beloved.
A classic London Dry gin, this brand is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the 1860s. The juniper and citrus-flavored spirit steep its botanicals in grain spirit for 24 hours before distillation. The original profile includes a blend of nine botanicals, with a dominant juniper character. At the current moment, the brand’s range includes six expressions that are all equally popular.
3. Bombay Sapphire
The beautiful distinctive blue bottles are known throughout the world. The distillery is located in England, where they use a vapor infusion technique to extract the essence of the botanicals. That results in unique aromas the brand is known for. The original blend is made in copper pot stills, and it contains ten ingredients that are sourced by Ivano Tonutti, Master of Botanicals.
One of the most recognizable brands on the market, it is due both to the quality of the spirit but also the iconic black bottle. The blend uses eleven botanicals that give it its unique profile. The finished product is infused with cucumber and rose after its distillation process for an added touch of personality. The fact that the brand uses Bennett and Carter-Head stills is one factor that sets this distillery apart from others.
Most likely the best-selling gin in the world, we tend to agree. It goes by the London Dry category, but a more affordable version. Perfect for cocktails, the original blend’s citrus and juniper bright flavors are equally dominant. If you’d like to taste a different variation try the Rangpur, with highlights of lime, or No.Ten, which has notes of lime, orange, and white grapefruit.
These are just 25 of the best gins that are available on the market at the moment. Have you tried any of them?
- What Qualifies as Gin?
- A Bit of Gin History
- Types of Gin
- How Is Gin Made?
- 25. Indoggo
- 24. Aviation
- 23. Vim & Petal
- 22. Conniption
- 21. Greenhook Ginsmiths
- 20. St. George
- 19. Barr Hill
- 18. Bluecoat
- 17. Junipero
- 16. Gordon’s
- 15. Roku
- 14. Opihr
- 13. Ki No Bi Kyoto
- 12. Fords
- 11. Sipsmith
- 10. Nolet’s Finest
- 9. Monkey 47
- 8. Malfy
- 7. The Botanist
- 6. Dingle
- 5. Plymouth
- 4. Beefeater
- 3. Bombay Sapphire
- 2. Hendrick’s
- 1. Tanqueray