Gin comes from numerous sources, including grain, fruit, potatoes, and grapes. But the predominant use of juniper berries is its defining feature of all gin brands. Gin producers must include it as one of the botanicals that give it its distinctive taste.
A descendant of the Dutch liquor genever, gin has been around for several centuries. It once carried the nickname "mother's ruin" but has experienced a rebirth in recent years.
Whether you enjoy drinking it neat, on the rocks, or using it with your martini recipe, there's the perfect gin for you. If you’re a bartender or mixologist, you want to ensure you have some of the best gin brands in stock.
Top 10 Gin Brands
Some gins taste good neat or on the rocks, while others make a great pair with your favorite mixer. Here’s our list of top 10 gin brands with consideration for flavor and overall quality for our selections. Add a few of these to your shopping list when you’re ready to make refreshing summer cocktails.
1. Hendrick's Gin
Hendrick's is hand-crafted in the town of Girvan on the southwest coast of Scotland. They make 500 liters at a time to ensure each batch meets the company's high standards. Lesley Gracie, the inventor of Hendrick's Gin and its Master Distiller, personally ensures her product comes through distillation at the highest quality.
Hendrick's uses a blend of eleven botanicals, including roses, cucumbers, and the essential juniper. It's the ideal gin to use for crafting cocktail drinks, but it's pricier than most other gin brands on our list. But it's worth the return on investment it gives you with its exhilarating taste.
Tanqueray is one of the best-selling gin brands worldwide and is recognizable for its iconic green bottle. It's also a superb example of London Dry Gin that offers an ideal blend of juniper, coriander, licorice, and angelica.
Tanqueray goes through distillation four times to ensure a dry, crisp taste. Ensure you know how to hold a wine glass, then pour some over a generous amount of ice. Add a premium tonic and garnish it with a lime wedge for the perfect gin and tonic recipe.
Also, check out Tanqueray Rangpur, with highlights of the Indian lime that gives it its name. Tanqueray Ten is a modern gin with orange, lime, and white grapefruit notes.
3. Sipsmith Gin
Sipsmith is relatively new to the gin scene but has made a big splash in a short amount of time. In 2009, Sipsmith was distilled on the first copper still in London in nearly two centuries. It has a base spirit of wheat with a mixture of botanicals that includes classics like coriander, licorice, and angelica.
Sipsmith is produced with one round of distillation, meaning they dilute with water and not a neutral spirit. The taste has distinctive orange blossom notes with honey and adds piney juniper with slight hints of angelica root musk and licorice. Sipsmith Gin represents a modern take on the London Dry Gin concept.
4. The Botanist
Here's a gin that's produced at the Bruichladdich Distillery on the remote Scottish island of Islay. The distillery was built in 1881 by brothers William John and Robert Harvey. The region is known more for its peated single malt scotches than its clear spirits.
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin uses 22 different botanicals collected on Islay, including juniper, heather, and meadowsweet. It offers an ideal balance between floral and dry pine characteristics, making it the perfect gin to use for complex cocktails with fruit elements.
5. Bombay Sapphire
Bombay Sapphire is a smooth gin that's based on one of the world's oldest gin recipes. It was the world's first distilled London Dry Gin to use a unique vapor-infusion process, giving it a lively blend of juniper, licorice, almond, and several additional botanicals.
Bombay has an aromatic taste and mixable quality with the right balance of flavors. This makes it an excellent option for including it in popular cocktails. It's also reasonably priced, making it a good addition to your home bar essentials.
6. Plymouth Gin
Plymouth Gin has been produced at the historic Black Friars Distillery since the late 18th century. Plymouth Gin's botanical mixture contains juniper, lemon peel, and angelica root–three classic gin staples. It's a simple yet flavorful liquor that works well for most gin cocktails.
Plymouth Gin Navy Strength–as you may guess by its name–has been associated with the British Royal Navy for nearly 200 years. It has a high alcohol content (57% ABV) that brings out various botanicals, including citrus and juniper. Despite its smooth sipping quality, the high ABV might be a bit too intense for beginners with gin.
7. Nolet's Gin
Nolet's Gin comes from Holland, the birthplace of gin and the location where its predecessor genever was distilled. Their distillery has been producing various types of alcohol since the 1690s, with Ketel One vodka being the most profitable spirit.
Nolet's Silver was launched a few years ago. It's a gin that veers away from the classic juniper-heavy characteristics for fruity and sweet notes from peach, raspberry, and Turkish rose.
If you're interested in splurging a bit, Nolet's Reserve has flavors of saffron and verbena. It's designed for sipping instead of adding to cocktails.
Beefeater is another classic example of a London Dry Gin brand dating to the 1860s. Beefeater's traditional recipe blends juniper and citrus for optimal flavoring, with botanicals steeped in neutral grain spirit for 24 hours before distillation.
Beefeater has been using the same recipe since its inception, but it has stood up to the test of time. It has a flavor dominated by juniper, making it better for a mixed drink than sipping it neat.
In addition to the classic Beefeater, Beefeater 24 contains additional botanicals like Chinese green tea and Japanese sencha. If you're a fan of strawberries, pick up a bottle of Beefeater Pink for its fruity notes.
9. Gordon's Gin
Gordon's is a brand of London Dry Gin first produced in 1769. It was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and included in James Bond's Vesper cocktail in Casino Royale. It's a straightforward and affordable gin that provides good value for your money.
It has assertive notes of juniper with garden herbs and black pepper to balance the flavor. Gordon's is perfect for many popular cocktail recipes and would’ve been available at the oldest bars in America in the late 18th century.
10. Roku Japanese Gin
This gin comes from the House of Suntory in Osaka, Japan, which dates to the 1930s. Roku (Japanese for "six") is the modern embodiment of Suntory's mastery of the gin-making process.
It combines six Japanese cocktail ingredients: green tea, sansho pepper, yuzu, Sakura flower, gyokuro tea, and Sakura leaf. Each of the six botanicals that give this gin its name is harvested in its ideal season. They're also sourced from the best growing areas in Japan to ensure freshness and optimal flavor.
The core six botanicals mix with eight traditional gin botanicals: juniper berries, coriander seed, cinnamon, bitter orange peel, cardamom seed, angelica root, angelica seed, and lemon peel. A multiple distillation process brings out the best in each botanical to give Roku an authentic gin taste.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gin Brands
What Mixes Well With Gin?
There are plenty of options for mixing other ingredients with your gin. Some people prefer vermouth while others add their favorite soda water brands. Here's a list of eight of the best gin mixers:
3. Soda water
5. Pineapple Juice
7. Flavored Seltzer
What Was the First Gin Ever Made?
A Dutch physician who went by the name Franciscus Sylvius is believed to be the inventor of gin. He prescribed a juniper-based distilled spirit for medicinal purposes in 1550.
The English first encountered gin when they were battling Spain in Holland during the Thirty Years' War. They drank it to calm their nerves before proceeding into battle, making it the original "Dutch Courage."
What Is the Most Popular Gin?
The top five most popular gins are as follows (2020):
1. Ginebra San Miguel
3. Bombay Sapphire
Gin-telligence Is an Attractive Quality
Despite the increasing popularity of other spirits, such as various types of tequila, gin remains popular. There are gin distilleries operating worldwide, from England to Japan to Argentina.
Gin is no longer “mother’s ruin,” as modern distilleries have provided fresh concepts and ingredients to go with classic brands. Stop by your liquor store, pick up a few bottles of gin, and make some spring cocktails.
Or, head to your favorite cocktail bar and sample a few cocktails with gin. Trying to compare a few gin brands will help you raise your gin-telligence.