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
96 points
A rich and artfully balanced gin with delicate juniper notes and robust fruit and spice flavors; a great choice for elevating cocktails.
Awards: 2022 Best Gin
METHOD AND MADNESS Irish Micro Distilled Gin
95 points
Just a damn fine traditional dry Gin that makes you crave a martini.
Martin Miller’s Summerful Gin
95 points
A remarkably potent and pleasurable full throttle gin that will be superb in classic cocktails.
Bristow Gin
95 points
A dry stately gin with deep savory, sylvan flavors for serious cocktails.
Mahon Gin
95 points
A garden of vivid aromas charm and entice the imbiber to the glass; a spectacular gin for martinis.
Barrister Dry Gin
94 points
Best Buy
A refreshing delicious and citrus-and-herb-forward gin that will be great in a Collin or long drinks.
94 points $19 Best Buy
StilL630 Volsteads Folly American Gin
94 points
A penetrating, floral and juniper-forward gin for creative cocktail play.
Martin Miller’s Gin
94 points
A silky and seamless gin with nuanced fruit and floral tones well suited for sophisticated craft cocktails.
Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin
94 points
A fine balance of subtle yet present botanicals makes this versatile savory gin a natural choice for elegant cocktails.
Atian Rose Gin
94 points
A soft, oily, superbly balanced floral-accented gin with great drinkability, neat, on ice, or in shaken or long cocktails.
94 points $49.99