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

Monkey 47 13th Edition Distillers Cut Schwarzwald Dry Gin
96 points
$79
A real velvet hammer that holds the proof well and then explodes in a never ending bouquet of fruits and flowers; how it borders on leaning a tad too sweet but doesn't fall off the rails as it maintains balance with some savory and bitter components in the background is no less than spectacular.
Wikinger Noorgaard Gin
96 points
Gin
A lovely, savory, complex, and earthy Gin that pops with mint and coriander.
Spirit of HVEN Organic Gin
96 points
$20
Best Buy
A fascinating and floral Gin that will add a very welcome savory and perfumed note to any cocktail.
96 points $20 Best Buy
Citadelle Gin
95 points
$25
Best Buy
Gin
With some welcomed bonus citrus expressions this is an excellent Martini Gin, yet well crafted enough to sip alone.
95 points $25 Best Buy
METHOD AND MADNESS Irish Micro Distilled Gin
95 points
$48
Just a damn fine traditional dry Gin that makes you crave a martini.
Martin Miller’s Summerful Gin
95 points
$33
A remarkably potent and pleasurable full throttle gin that will be superb in classic cocktails.
Terrapin Gin
94 points
$30
Gin
A delicious sipper with a very pronounced licorice note.
The Ozark Mountain DareDevils Ozark Dry Gin
94 points
$29
A lovely and complex Gin with a bit of London Dry character dashed with some Old Tom and cinnamon barrel spiced aspects; delicious and fun.
Old Islandia Gin
94 points
$35
Gin
A delicate, lovely Gin that balances sweet and savory flavors with the traditional juniper being a bit subdued.
Mahon Gin
94 points
$36
Gin
A touch anise forward and with a beautiful balance of juniper and citrus against a hint of sweetness.