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. Attractive aromas and flavors of spicy citrus compote, berry torte, floral honey, and lemongrass with a satiny, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a silky, complex, long finish revealing notes of floral candies, melon sorbet, and pink pepper. A delicious and sensuous Gin that will reward at every sip.
97 points $39.99
Mahon Gin
95 points
$32
Gin
Clear color. Inviting aromas and flavors of orris root, sweet orange, lime, coriander, rose peel, sandalwood, and hints of celery with a velvety, vibrant, dryish light-to-medium body and a smooth, colossal, very long finish. A garden of vivid aromas charm and entice the imbiber to the glass; a spectacular Gin for martinis.
Ramsbury London Dry Gin
95 points
$45
Clear color. Attractive, floral, fruity aromas and flavors of spiced melon, apricot, and tropical citrus, floral waters, and tomato water with a satiny, bright, dryish medium body and a tingling, complex, long finish with notes of juniper and bergamot honey custard, tangerine chutney, asian plums and spices, and wheatgrass. A vibrant, delicious and very pretty Gin with lovely waves of flavor.
Bluecoat American Dry Gin
94 points
$29
Clear color. Interesting aromas and flavors of fig and date paste, molasses cookie, spiced citrus and nuts, and aromatic woods and chalk with a supple, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, captivating, medium-long finish revealing accents of rye herb nut muffin and sweet and peppery spices. A nice savory approachable Gin for cool weather cocktails.
Martin Miller’s Gin
94 points
$32.99
Gin
Clear color. Inviting, citrusy aromas and flavors of orange gelatin candy, lemon verbena curd, elderflower and melon sorbet, and floral honey with a silky, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a polished, agreeable finish revealing notes of orange mineral water, delicate grassy herbs, and minerals. An elegant and well balanced Gin with great appeal and drinkability.
94 points $32.99
JUNíPERO Gin
94 points
$34
Gin
Clear color. Aromas and flavors of pine needles and sap, singed citrus peels, hint of turpentine, and honey horseradish mustard with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity full body and a warming, complex, long finish revealing accents of juniper jam, Meyer lemon curd, and fresh herbs. A bold, in-your-face Gin with fresh herbal flavors and an elegant edge.
Astral Pacific Gin
94 points
Gin
Clear color. Aromas of lime leaf, hints of coconut, sweet flower waters, and tangerine marmalade on buttered biscuit with a satiny, crisp, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, intricate, medium-long earl grey tea, parsley, cilantro, mint, sweet ginger, and juniper jelly finish. A delightful harmony of fruits and herbs dance on the palate; try this lively contemporary Gin in wide array of friendly cocktails.
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