About Gin

About Gin
Gin is the original flavored vodka, a clear spirit that is flavored with juniper berries and so-called botanicals (a varied assortment of herbs and spices). The spirit base of Gin is primarily grain (usually wheat or rye), which results in a light-bodied spirit.

The chief flavoring agent in gin is the highly aromatic blue-green berry of the juniper, a low-slung evergreen bush (genus Juniperus) that is commercially grown in northern Italy, Croatia, the United States and Canada. Additional botanicals can include anise, angelica root, cinnamon, orange peel, coriander, and cassia bark. All gin makers have their own secret combination of botanicals, the number of which can range from as few as four to as many as 15 or more.

Most gin is initially distilled in efficient column stills. The resulting spirit is high-proof, light-bodied, and clean with a minimal amount of congeners (flavor compounds) and flavoring agents. Gin's lowland cousin, Genever, is distilled in less-efficient potstills, which results in a lower-proof, more flavorful spirit. Low-quality 'Compound Gins' are made by simply mixing the base spirit with juniper and botanical extracts. Mass-market gins, known as 'Distilled Gins', are produced by soaking juniper berries and botanicals in the base spirit and then redistilling the mixture.

Many top-quality gins are flavored in a unique manner and are referred to as 'London Dry Gins'. After one or more distillations the base spirit is redistilled one last time. During this final distillation the alcohol vapor wafts through a chamber in which the dried juniper berries and botanicals are suspended. The vapor gently extracts aromatic and flavoring oils and compounds from the berries and spices as it travels through the chamber on its way to the condenser. The resulting flavored spirit has a noticeable degree of complexity.

The most famous examples of gin are from the UK. These are among the most complex gins with subdued flavors of pine, peppery spices, citrus, herbal roots, and even floral notes, which are currently in vogue. Gin has experienced a revival thanks to the craft cocktail movement as the base for the wildly popular gin martini, a host of newly resuscitated classic cocktails, and adventuresome new libations.

Top Picks for Gin

Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin
97 points
$39.99
Clear color. Fruity aromas of cucumber, Cara Cara oranges, melon salad, and lemon oleo with a satiny, bright, fruity light-to-medium body and a tingling, engaging, breezy hibiscus tisane, allspice, crushed juniper, compressed watermelon, thyme, and basil finish. A vibrant contemporary gin with pure citrus notes and endless refinement.
Awards: 2018 Best Gin
97 points $39.99
Elephant Gin Elephant Strength Gin
97 points
$38
Clear color. Vegetal, spicy aromas of zucchini, steak seasoning, rose sachet and basil, and apple jacks and anise with a round, lively, fruity sweet medium body and a peppery, amusing, medium-length sweet lemon blossom, grilled nectarine, mint cream, and lilac water finish. A vibrant, very well-balanced over-proof gin that is surprisingly smooth, even neat.
Awards: 2017 Best Gin
Frey Ranch Gin
97 points
$32.99
Gin
Clear color. Bold, pungent, piney complex aromas and flavors of pine sap, lacquer, dried flowers, and smoked pepper and campfire fire with a creamy, lively, dryish medium-to-full body and a peppery, complex, long pine needle, honeyed juniper, and chalk finish. An amazingly powerful and intense gin with 3D fresh piney juniper flavors.
97 points $32.99
Cotswolds Dry Gin
97 points
$43.99
Brilliant clear color. Bold, citrusy aromas of lemon oil and cream, piney juniper, herb melange, and turpentine and pine sol with a supple, soft, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a warming, refreshing, cheery nut flour, pepper dust, wet limestone, and key lime zest finish. An intense old world style gin packed with flavor for the boldest of cocktails.
97 points $43.99
Martin Miller’s Gin
96 points
$27.99
Gin
Clear color. Aromas of limoncello and peppermint with a supple, bright, dry-yet-fruity light body and a tingling, cheery skittles candy and orange blossom finish. A fruity, easy-drinking gin for summer punches and crowd-pleasing mixed drinks.
96 points $27.99
Nouaison Gin
96 points
$45
Gin
Clear color. Minty aromas of spicy cinnamon candies, violet, peppermint, clove, and rosewood with a satiny, crisp, dry-yet-fruity light body and a peppery, complex, medium-long spice drop candies, juicy fruit gum, salted roasted pineapple, and sage finish. A woodsy gin that will add a sweet and balanced freshness to all manner of cocktails.
Salcombe Start Point London Dry Gin
96 points
$40
Clear color. Herbal aromas of cardamom, candied flowers, green peppercorn, dried juniper berries, and lime and angelica with a creamy, dryish light-to-medium body and a warming, nuanced, long juniper blast, orange and dried mint, jasmine and sweet herbs, and cedar and licorice finish. A well constructed classic gin with a traveling finish.
Sipsmith London Dry Gin
95 points
$32.99
Clear color. Inviting, herbal aromas of lemon peel, cedar, eucalyptus, kalamata tapenade, coriander, and grilled nopales with a velvety, crisp, dryish light-to-medium body and a peppery, very complex, long alpine herbs, dill, fennel fronds, oregano, black pepper, and celery finish. A fantastic, skillfully crafted herbaceous gin with excellent depth of flavors.
95 points $32.99
G’Vine Floraison Gin
95 points
$42
Clear color. Confected aromas of watermelon candy, spumoni, ripe honeydew, sage, banana taffy, vanilla-lavender, and bubblegum with a silky, bright, fruity sweet light-to-medium body and a delightful, medium-long Douglas fir, white peppercorns, and Fuji apple finish. A boldly fruity gin with a great mouthfeel for contemporary cocktails and summertime fun.
Anchorage Distillery Aurora Gin
95 points
$30
Clear color. Herbal, spicy aromas of rice pudding with cinnamon, lavender and saffron, marinated grape leaf, and ginger beer with a satiny, bright, dry fat body and a hot, stimulating, relaxed coriander and black cardamom, flaxseed and rose water, black peppercorn, and cinnamon and cajeta finish. A rich, elegant, and evocative gin with a great combination of fruit, spice, and herbs in a malty, creamy frame.