Gin is cool again. And we think that’s worth getting excited about.
The clear liquor is distilled from juniper berries, providing a seriously unique flavor. However, this flavor has made gin divisive with liquor connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. It’s not for everyone, but recently, more and more people are coming around to the sharp, effervescent flavor.
Gin has had a pretty bizarre history. Although it’s now strongly associated with London, gin was actually pioneered in the Netherlands. But once Londoners got a hold of the cheap recipe in the early 18th century, they had a gin craze (no, literally, that’s a historical term). Since then, gin has slowly evolved into what it is today, with distilleries popping up all over the world. And starting around 2013, gin has been on the up and up in the craft cocktail world. The best gin has a distinctive flavor, and many gin brands are distilled at 90 proof or stronger.
Understanding why Gin has gotten more popular is pretty simple: it’s delicious and unique. You can sip it straight like a whiskey, but gin really shines in cocktails such as gin and tonics, martinis, and gimlets. Gin is perfect for both casual cocktails like gin and juice and high-end creations with cucumber and elderflower.
If you’re ready to up your gin knowledge, the best method is to dive in and try the stuff. We’ve rounded up several of the best gins on the market to upgrade your evening drink or cocktail party. Keep reading to discover the best gin brands from around the world.
Whether you’re new to gin or looking for a better go-to bottle, Hendrick’s is a great option. It’s a step up from the basic gin brands, but it’s still not too expensive. Considering Hendrick’s is just 20 years old, it’s pretty impressive that you can see it in nearly any bar around the world. The brand revolutionized the gin market with two simple upgrades — cucumber and rose — which started the whole ginaissance we’re now living in.
Tanqueray London Dry Gin
You can get pretty deep in the artisanal gin world these days, but we think everyone should have a classic bottle of gin in their bar. Our favorite? Tanqueray Imported. It’s fairly affordable but boasts a smooth juniper-forward flavor that gives a good base for tasting more experimental gins. This makes it great for cocktails as well, such as a gin fizz or Tom Collins. That being said, the best way to enjoy Tanqueray may be in a classic gin and tonic. The 47.3% ABV makes this a strong spirit, so sip slowly.
BEST OLD-SCHOOL GIN
One of the oldest running London Dry Gins, Beefeater is a staple in the gin community. The iconic gin gets its spicy yet sweet flavoring from a unique steeping process, where the botanicals are steeped for 24 hours in the neutral grain spirit base prior to distillation. This process pulls out the profiles of the botanicals and gives it the defined Beefeater flavoring that gin lovers have come accustomed to. This has been one of the most popular brands in both London and the United States for 200 years.
Tanqueray No. Ten
BEST SMALL BATCH
Tanqueray has been around since 1830, and it that time, the distillers have perfected the art of making fine gin. In 2000, Tanqueray released No. Ten, named from the small-batch still “number 10” that it comes from. It’s the premium Tanqueray, a versatile gin that is a great base for gin cocktails or tonic water and a slice of grapefruit. It tastes of fresh citrus, juniper and licorice, and it is a little bit wetter and sweeter than most London-based gins. This small-batch gin is a premium choice in any liquor collection.
MOST VERSATLE GIN
Plymouth Gin is a popular spirit for making gin cocktails because its fruity tasting notes along with its ever-so mild bite go well in just about any mixing application. With juniper, coriander and cardamom as the tasting notes, it does have a little spice to it, but overall, this gin is more citrusy and earthy. Plymouth has been around forever — since 1793 — and the liquor has won about every award that a gin can win. If you’re a gin-lover, then it’s a must-have for your home bar cart.
BEST BEGINNER GIN
This award is not a knock on Bombay — not by any means — it’s simply a testament to how easy this gin is to drink. Everybody needs a stepping stone; your first beer probably wasn’t a double IPA that would have ripped your taste buds clean off. Bombay Sapphire uses 10 botanicals that are vapor infused in the distillation process. This eventually leads to a mild, lemony taste that shows up and leaves quickly. There is no harsh bite or overly powerful flavors, which makes it a great liquor to experiment with as you open the door to the vast world of gins.
BEST AMERICAN SMALL BATCH
Although Brooklyn Gin hasn’t been around for nearly as long as the likes of Tanqueray or Beefeater — only 200 years young, but who’s counting — it has taken the small-batch gin market by storm. The distillers hand peel the oranges used to infuse the gin, giving it an unmistakably fresh, citrusy taste. Other botanicals include juniper, angelica root, lemon, lime peel and lavender. It’s a super clean gin that you can enjoy fresh over ice. The distillers take a little extra time with the fresh ingredients and it really pays off.
Fords Officers Reserve Gin
BEST FOR MIXERS
Ford’s Officers Reserve is “over-proofed” aka “Navy Strength” gin, meaning it will put a little hair on your chest when you drink it. This London dry gin recipe contains nine botanicals. This gin is then finished in oak barrels, and the final result is a bold 109-proof gin. Even though it is stronger than most gins, it still maintains a great floral and citrus aroma.
We love Fords Officers Reserve because the tasting profile allows you to use it as a base for mixed drinks. It is also surprising how well this gin works with mixers because of its extensive botanical profile, but through some gin magic, it all seems to work. This is a bartender’s secret gin weapon, and one we highly recommend adding to your liquor cabinet.
SipSmith VJOP London Dry Gin
FANS OF JUNIPER
The VJOP in the SipSmith name stands for “Very Junipery Over Proof.” Not only does this gin taste and put off an extra piney aroma, but it is also stronger than most gins. The extra juniper also gives a peppery finish that leaves a little heat in your mouth. This gin includes a “three-phase” juniper process. Juniper is added for three days into the base spirits, adding more flavor after it macerates. Then, vapor is used to infuse even more juniper before it’s bottled. This is for those who can’t get enough of the pine.
Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin
PACKS A PUNCH
Sailors created “Navy-strength” booze as a way to get drunk without taking up too much space on their ships. It’s the strongest of the strong when it comes to ABV %. And this gin by Four Pillars certainly lives up to the Navy Strength label. It’s a boozy 58.8% alcohol that is only released once a year. This high-strength gin is made in Australia and made from oranges, limes, turmeric and coriander. This powerful gin has been awarded the Master status at the Global Gin Masters the last five years. It’s powerful, delicious and highly sought after.
Gordon’s London Dry Gin
If you’re stocking up on gin for a party or just shopping on a budget, go for Gordon’s. It’s a classic London dry gin, and although it’s affordable and widely available, it still offers a nice gin experience. Gordon’s recipe upgrades the juniper taste with some orange peel and anise, creating a bold flavor that won this gin Double Gold at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Ransom Old Tom Gin
BEST OLD TOM GIN
Most gins are either a classic London dry gin or a slight variation. However, there’s also old Tom gin, which came before the London drys that we typically drink today. Think of old Toms as the hipsters of gins. If you want to get a little adventurous, pick up a bottle of this Ransom Old Tom gin. It’s aged in wine barrels (giving it that odd caramel color) and uses a base wort of malted barley for a unique malty flavor.
Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin
BEST DUTCH GIN
As mentioned, gin actually descended from Dutch spirits. So it’s only fitting that Nolet’s, one of the best gins on the market, comes from Holland. This premium gin uses rose, peach and raspberry to complement the juniper taste, creating something you can really sit back and sip. It makes a great gift for gin lovers too, as they probably haven’t tried this imported gin yet.
BEST JAPANESE GIN
Japanese liquor of all kinds (especially Japenese whisky) are taking the States by storm. One of the biggest distilleries in Japan is Suntory, and like their award-winning whisky (yes, Japense whisky is spelled without the “e”), their gin is top-notch. “Roku” (Japanese for six) refers to the six unique Japanese botanicals used in the gin, although it also utilizes some classic botanicals such as coriander seed and angelica root as well. The result is a light mix of floral, citrusy and spicy that makes it great for sipping or making a killer gin martini. For any craft cocktail lovers looking for the best gin brands in the world, Suntory’s Roku should absolutely sit on their shelf.
Monkey 47 Dry Gin
BEST PREMIUM GIN
Looking to sample a high-end bottle of gin (or treat a gin lover to some of the best gin on the planet)? Try this Monkey 47. It uses a whopping 47 botanicals — all picked from the Black Forest in Germany — to create a truly elevated tasting experience. One reviewer said it was like a punch to the mouth (the good kind) with juniper, pepper, flowers and Monkey’s secret weapon: lingonberries.