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. Aromas of lime leaf, cologne, and white flowers with a velvety, vibrant, dry light-to-medium body and a polished, gigantic, very long exotic citrus, fresh basil, and geranium finish. A bold Gin with a seductive, perfumed aroma; balanced, alluring, and outstanding in a martini.
97 points $39.99
Martin Miller’s Gin
96 points
$32.99
Gin
Clear color. Aromas of lemon balm, fresh cucumber, lime leaf, rose wood, chamomile, and cracked juniper with a round, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a tingling, complex, long geranium, orris root, cardamom, and ginger powder finish. A garden-fresh, deeply flavored Gin with a woodsy perfume coupled with fresh cucumber aromas; excellent concentration of flavor and complexity.
96 points $32.99
METHOD AND MADNESS Irish Micro Distilled Gin
95 points
$35
Clear color. Aromas of oregano, tarragon, lemon-lime, rosemary, gingersnap cookies, watermelon rind, and hints of anise with a round, thin body and a very long black pepper, cracked juniper berry, earl grey tea, fresh lemon zest, and hints of peppermint finish. Bold, classic flavors mingle with a kiss of sweetness in this rock solid Gin that will shine in most any cocktail.
G’Vine Floraison Gin
95 points
$45
Clear color. Sweet aromas of lemon curd, cream puff, orange gelée, honey, coriander, honeydew melon, ripe fig, and subtle hints of juniper jelly with a velvety, vibrant, off-dry light-to-medium body and a smooth, complex, long lemon grass, peppercorns, lime leaf, peppermint, and fresh pine finish. A rich and balanced Gin that mingles garden-fresh herbs with delicate fruit flavors; complex, round and easy to love.
Sipsmith London Dry Gin
94 points
$32
Clear color. Inviting aromas of iris, lime leaf, fresh juniper, rosemary-olive focaccia, conditioned leather, celery leaf, and spiced apple chutney with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a smooth, complex, medium-long angelica, white tea, and hints of grapefruit finish. An alluring blend of sultry botanicals both intrigue and uplift; a deliciously concentrated and distinctive Gin.
G’Vine Nouaison Gin
94 points
$50
Clear color. Spicy aromas and flavors of cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, crushed coriander seed, lemon balm, and black tea with a satiny, bright, dryish light body and a smooth, interesting, medium-length finish evoking notes of spearmint, cologne, cardamom, hot peppers, lime leaf, and musk finish. A complex and bracing Gin tailor-made for fine cocktails; make yourself a stupendous martini with this one.
Etsu Handcrafted Gin
94 points
$39.99
Clear color. Aromas and flavors of dried lime, lemongrass, sancho pepper, eucalyptus, bay, and juniper with a supple, crisp, dryish light-to-medium body and a peppery, complex, medium-long finish with overtones of jasmine and leather conditioner finish. A masculine of center gin with pervasive notes of dried herbs.
94 points $39.99
By The Dutch Dry Gin
94 points
$48
Clear color. Attractive, floral aromas and flavors of orange blossom, yellow rose and lavender waters, a cornucopia of ripe tropical fruits, ginger bubblegum, and cardamon herbed fennel with a silky, soft, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a smooth, complex, very long finish that exhibits accents of spiced fruit and carrot cakes, nutskin, edible flowers, and flour wedding cookies finish. A superb floral, Asian-accented gin with instant appeal and great versatility.
Bluecoat American Dry Gin
93 points
$28.99
Clear color. Aromas and flavors of angelica, hints of pine, sandalwood, fresh mint, and dried blossoms with a satiny, lively, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a warming, refreshing, medium-length finish that shows accents of juniper and peppercorn. Classic, stylish flavors and cocktail-friendly proof make this a Gin well-suited to mixing at home or in the bar.
93 points $28.99
Archie Rose Distillers Strength Gin
93 points
$99
Clear color. Aromas and flavors of gardenia bath powder, dried rose petal, gentle notes of juniper, ripe Italian lemons, and orris root with a glycerous, vibrant, dryish light-to-medium body and a tingling, medium-length finish revealing overtones of lime, spearmint, menthol, and juniper. A powdery and floral nose leads to a somewhat mentholated palate in this bold, commanding Gin that provides layers of flavor.