Narrowing down my selection of gins to my Top 5 wasn’t easy. To be honest my favourites change all the time as I taste new gins and my palate continually progresses. I’ve found that I’m discovering more depth to some brands that I hadn’t noticed a few years ago.
With World Gin Day coming up I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about what I like most in a gin. My cupboard is full and the decision on what to recommend or buy next is getting increasingly difficult.
Every day it feels like I discover a new gin I hadn’t heard of, and I’m sure there’s no one on the planet that has tried every single one!
So here is my Top 5.
1. JOHNSMAS ORKNEY GIN
Coming in at No1 for me has got to be Orkney Gin ‘Johnsmas’. Created using the long summer nights on Orkney as it’s inspiration, this spirit is very floral with bright citrus notes. The nose is fragrant without being overpowering. It has an initial sweetness with plenty of juniper hit to make this gin an all rounder. The bottle depicts a Scottish Selkie and the Orcadian folklore is so intriguing. If you want to find out more then check out the Orkney Gin Company.
Served up with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic and a slice of lemon cucumber you will be in heaven. (My father in law grows these amazing cucumbers that look like lemons and have a milder taste I love that they look so pretty!)
2. POROBELLO ROAD
Next for me is Portobello Road. This London Dry Gin shuns any of the current facination for infusing the spirit with hundreds of botanicals and instead keeps it simple. An ititial thrust of juniper leads on to a slightly citrus nose which comes from the lemon peel and then you get a light pepperyness from the nutmeg. It has a lengthy finish making it super versatile in cocktails as well as interesting on it’s own.
Served with a slug of 1724 tonic and a wedge of lime this ‘simple’ gin will shine.
3. GIN MARE
Gin Mare is one of those gins that has became a bit of a modern day superstar. A Spanish gin taking in all the flavours of the Mediterranean. Bottled at 42.7% this spirit is clean and fresh. A heady herbal nose coming from the rosemary and basil, the palate is aromatic but the tartness of the juniper manages to fight through. This is one of the most enjoyable gins in the summer.
Serve up as a long drink with plenty of ice, topped with Fever Tree Light tonic and a slice of mandarin. It’s also really good with a few herbs added – the latest craze this summer is going to be ice cubes with herbs and botanicals frozen inside to gently release flavour into your drink!
When I heard that a gin distillery was opening up only a few miles from my house it’s not an understatement to say I was delighted. At the same time I was so worried that the quality wouldn’t live up to expectation, but I shouldn’t have. Oro is one of the most delightfully creative spirits I have had the pleasure to taste. It was a long time in development and it’s creation was scientifically designed. A softly floral and citrus nose leads you into a juniper burst. The pink peppercorn and cardamom give it a hint of spice and delicious warmth and there is a good juniper base. The finish is the most interesting of all the gins I’ve tried and I believe this is down to the lemongrass.
Served simply with a solid chunk of ice, a quality tonic such as Thomas Henry and a lime wedge. (You can find out more about my thoughts on Oro Here)
5. Harris Gin
For my final choice in my Top 5 I went for something that is always at the front of my gin shelf. The Harris bottle design alone is enough to make it stand out in most bars. But the story behind this gin is worth looking into as it’s so interesting. An American with no distillation experience and a tiny Scottish Island. So keen and inspired by the Harris landscape the distillerys Managing Director employed a ethnabotanics to study the viability of using the local flora. Sugar kelp is what they decided to use. The nose is typical juniper. No startling flavours jump out. On first taste the spirit is clean and slightly soft. The sugar kelp brings a light sweetness and a slight herbal offering. A tart orange finish and a warmth from the corriander make this a favourite by most gin lovers.
I serve it with a few ice cubes, London Essence tonic and slither of pink grapefruit.
I have to give a nod to a few other big hitters in my collection that I struggled not to put in my top 5.
The Lakes Gin
It’s no mean feat chosing ‘the best’ from such a good selection!
So, what are your favourites? Do you agree with my findings? Tell me what you think I’m missing out on?
My top 5 may change again as I taste more gins!