This article first appeared in the May/Jun 2014 issue of World Gaming magazine.
Whether you like it in a gin and tonic, as the base of a martini or just straight up, gin is one of the most widely consumed spirits on the planet and its production has developed into a fine art. Today’s savvy consumers demand perfection and as such there is now an impressive selection of quality gins available to suit any palette.
Whether you think of it as heavenly juniper nectar or “mother’s ruin”, gin has certainly stood the test of time as a versatile and popular spirit. Made from the juice of juniper berries infused with various botanicals, gin can vary from the downright rough to the highly refined. Some gins contain many more than the six traditional botanicals although it is not necessarily the case that the more botanicals, the better the gin. Balancing these botanicals is the true talent of any great gin maker.
Gin has infiltrated popular culture. It is the main ingredient in James Bond’s Vesper Martini and was said to be the drink of choice for the Queen Mother, whose 101 year lifespan was once attributed to her drinking a gin at noon, red wine at lunch, port and a gin martini late afternoon and two glasses of champagne with dinner.
Given the support of the English monarchy and the fact that gin was widely used in the colonies to make the consumption of malaria treatment quinine more digestible, it is little wonder some of today’s most celebrated gins hail from the United Kingdom. But the gin story also goes well beyond the UK and as you will see, some of the best products on the market now are the result of global collaboration.
There is a whole vocabulary associated with gin connoisseurs and with practice, you too can be talking about the whiff, the tingle, the kick, the tongue-jig and the glint of the gin.
5. Monkey 47. Monkey 47’s name hints at what it is made from – 47 ideally combined ingredients which deliver a deeply complex gin with a racy finish. Made with traditions from England and India and produced in the German Black Forest, the uniquely soft waters of the regions plus the use of Black Forest cranberries are this gin’s secret weapons. It has a complexity and quality to rival any traditional UK gin.
4. Sipsmith. Produced in the first new copper-pot still to be launched in London since 1820, this artisanal gin was established in 2008 by seasoned beverage market professionals whose true passion was the craft of distillation. The result is a modern clean gin, truly representative of everything that is London, including the unique Lydwell Spring water – one of the sources of the River Thames.
3. Caorunn. Caorunn, pronounced “ka-roon”, is a boutique Scottish gin which shows that the selection of the water is equally as important as the blend of botanicals necessary for a high quality gin. Made with five typically Celtic flavours of rowan berry, heather, bog myrtle, dandelion and blush apple in addition to the six traditional gin botanicals, this handcrafted gin made in small batches delivers an aromatic experience which evokes the traditions of the Scottish highlands.
2. Hendricks. Cucumber is the signature garnish of any Hendricks based drink. Among the 11 botanicals which are combined with pure Scottish lowland water are cucumber and rose. The result from the small batch production is a clean, crisp gin which achieves a high mark in all the characteristics of gin tasting terminology.
1. Martin Miller’s London Dry. Born of an obsession to find a gin which suited his own discerning palate, Martin Miller, publisher of the Miller’s Antiques Price Guides, decided to create his own. The carefully selected and balanced botanicals are distilled in England but then blended with the finest Icelandic water and bottled in Iceland. This creates a silky, sweet and sophisticated spirit which is perfection either in a standard gin and tonic or any cocktail.