Stumped for ideas for the gin lover in your life this Christmas? Forget the gin socks, gin bubble bath and gin earrings. What better gift to put in a Ginthusiasts’ Christmas stocking than a bottle of juniper juice? Apart from my lovely book of course!
To help you on your way, I’ve compiled a list of my top most favourite gins of 2019, one for each day of Ginmas (I’m saying that like it really exists!).
Some will be familiar and some are new gins out this year. I confess it was hard to whittle down my selection to just twelve. But here they are. My recommendations for this season. All can be bought online. Feast your eyes x
Brazil is a country more known for its cachaca. Packaged in a lovely recycled glass bottle with a blue-green tint, the Amazzoni Gin is a smooth yet gutsy gin with a spicy warmness from the clove vine botanical entwining herbal green notes. It makes a great martini or Amazzini, with 5 parts gin to one part dry vermouth. One of the more pricey gins here but worth splashing out on for a real gin lover.
Style: London Dry
No apologies for including this one. Beefeater is a stalwart of the gin category and has been my go-to cocktail gin for what seems like forever. It will always have its haters but, for me, the delicate balance of flavours is superb with just the right amount of juniper, citrus and liquorice root. It is well-mannered enough to recreate most gin cocktails without forcing its way to the front and altering the taste, yet full-bodied and fruity. Not one to be underestimated.
Style: Old Tom
This gin was launched onto the market on World Gin Day June 8th this year, coming from Orkney Distilling, the most northerly of gins on my list. Named after the Norse Goddess of Bees, the gin uses local honey and Scottish raspberries, suffusing the gin with a lovely pale blush colour. It tastes pretty good too, like sweet honeyed raspberry pie, which makes it a perfect sipping gin.
Drumshanbo has been gracing the gin shelf with its distinctive blue ribbed apothecary-style bottles for only three years but it feels like a much more established brand. The gin is pretty distinctive too with its signature botanical of gunpowder tea. A big, bold gin it is spicy with a bright citrus zing. Pair it with a plain premium tonic and garnish with grapefruit zest and star anise for a ‘curious and extraordinary’ G&T.
Leslie Gracie, the Hendrick’s Head Distiller, is a distilling genius (fact), so I was excited when Hendrick’s announced the imminent arrival of its latest expression earlier this year. Midsummer Solstice is a limited edition gin. If you are a floral gin fan, like me, you will love this one.
Hills & Harbour Smokey & Citrus Distilled Cocktail Gin
This is an unusual one. Certainly not your traditional juniper gin but I’ve included it because I like it and it uses Crafty Distillery’s Hills & Harbour Gin as its base. Launched this year it is made with a wheelbarrow load (fact) of fresh smoked pineapple and burnt oranges in each batch. Try it with soda water and flamed orange zest for a yummy cocktail.
The piercing blue eyes staring out from the stoneware bottle are enough to stop you in your tracks. This gin is worth the detour, juniper-forward with sweet apple notes and a tickle of liquorice. Plain premium tonic enhances this gin and doesn’t mask its fine flavours. You can faff about all you want with fancy tonics, but this gin for one doesn’t need them.
The Belgians may well argue that it was they who ‘invented’ gin and now there are quite a few Belgian gins in the category. Panda Gin is 100% organic with lychee or litchi as the signature botanical. With cherry and rosemary in there too, along with star anise and basil, this is quite a sophisticated and complex gin. Herby and floral in equal measure, an intriguing gin for creative cocktails.
St. Giles Spiced Orange & Cranberry Limited Edition Gin
Style: Fruit infused
St Giles have done it again with their latest expression released this Christmas. This is sophisticated seasonal flavours in a bottle. Superb on its own or served with a light tonic to reveal its scrumptiousness.
Style: Fruit infused
Made in Seville with fresh strawberries, this gin is pure strawberries and cream with a juniper wafer. Simple and uncomplicated. Make a Gin Strawberry Smash to celebrate the sheer strawberryness of this gin.
Origin: South Africa
Style: Colour changing
Six Dogs Blue is another of the colour changing gins that use the blue butterfly pea flower as a botanical. South African gins are a force to be reckoned with and this one is a floral delight with no hint of potpourri and more than enough juniper. It makes a superb martini with just a few drops of lemon juice to change the colour. I have to mention the label and the box, both gorgeous designs of the pea flower. A lovely gift and easy to wrap!
My last gin is a very intriguing grown-up gin, multi-layered and although I think the word complex is often overused in describing gin, I think that in this gin it is justified. It has a slightly bitter taste, dry and tea-like. Perfect in a G&T. I included the Select Edition, only available in travel retail but the regular Roku is just as good and worth seeking out.