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10 Of The Best Gins To Drink In 2020

Think beyond a Gordon's and tonic with our favourite drops, from dry London gins to aromatic experiments

best gins

If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we get bored easily and that we need booze. Come aperitivo hour, you could reach for your tried and tested bottle of Gordon’s, because that’s just what’s there, or you could buy yourself something a little bit new. A little bit different. And give drinks o’clock the boost it needs.

What exactly is gin?

im电竞官网-Unlike drinks which are classified according to their distilling technique or the ingredients used to create the spirit, gin is a matter of taste. By which we mean that gin is only gin if it has juniper as its predominant flavour and an alcohol content of at least 37.5% ABV. Juniper berries have been used to make spirits practically back to year dot, but the gin of today is thought to be a derivative of the Dutch genever, commonly said to have been invented by chemist Sylvius de Bouve in the seventeenth century. Like most things relating to gin’s murky beginnings, this is hotly disputed, and a basic form of gin was in England around the same time as a sort of medicine (and not exactly enjoyed). But come what may, by the time Dutch King William III was established on the throne, gin was a part of life in this country. It hit its first prime in the 1700s, in what was called the ‘Gin Craze’, though you’d be forgiven for assuming the term relates to the spirit’s more recent renaissance – last year, the UK industry was valued at £3bn.

Whilst genever tends to be more floral and fragrant, packing a punch in flavour thanks to the malt-wine at its core (which in turn demands bigger seasoning and more sugar to balance it), gin is dryer, sharper and has a greater focus on juniper. It requires a base spirit that is usually (but not always) neutral in taste, and which can be made from a number of things. Often, it's not actually made by the people who turn it into gin, but rather bought in from dedicated stills and then mixed with that brand's specific set of flavourings – juniper berries, of course, plus any other botanicals desired (popular ones are orange, lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and angelica root). Said mixing is generally done through a process of redistilling, but a more basic method is simply to steep the spirit with the other ingredients – this will make a ‘compound’ or ‘bathtub’ gin because, well, you could technically throw everything into a bathtub and hope for the best. That’s perhaps unfair to those who make very good compound gins, but it’s far more common, these days, to see gins made via re-distillation.

Types of gin

London Dry is the UK’s tried and tested style. It does absolutely not have to come from London, or from England at all come to that, but it does have to be dry in the traditional sense of the word – by not containing much sugar. It also cannot have any artificial flavours in it, and the flavours it does have must have been imparted during the redistilling process – no adding in afterwards. These examples are likely to be sharp and clean tasting with more pronounced citrus notes, rather than anything too aromatic.

Distilled gins are similar to London Drys, but their flavours can be added after re-distillation and can be natural or artificial. They account for a lot of the wackier combinations (and colours) out there.

An Old Tom gin will be sweeter than a London Dry but not quite as sweet as genever (it’s often called “the missing link” between the two). The name comes from the tomcat-shaped wooden signs that apparently adorned the outsides of certain pubs in Victorian times, surreptitiously advertising shots of gin when the nation’s thirst for the stuff had panicked the government into hiking taxes on it as a deterrent. Today’s examples tend to be gentler and less tart than London Drys, often with big hints of liquorice and a notably smooth consistency.

There are myriad stories surrounding the origins of Navy-Strength im电竞官网-gin but the name tells you all you need to know. Approach with caution, but remember that a beefier alcohol content can temper flavours, so you’re unlikely to get any nasty surprises with these (bar the hangover).

Plymouth Gin is even more straightforward. It can only be made in Plymouth and, further, has been trademarked to one brand, so you should know exactly what you’re getting.

Then there's sloe gin, which technically isn't a gin at all – it's a liqueur, not a spirit. Made by mixing gin and sloe berries, it's rich and sweet, and comes in at a lower alcohol level (at least 25% ABV in the EU).

How to drink gin in 2020

We may by a nation of gin and tonic devotees, but that doesn’t mean that your imagination has to stop at ‘ice and a slice’ (of lemon, or even lime) when making one: take a look at the bottle to find what botanicals your gin was made with, and choose one (or a few) as your garnish. Cucumber, coriander, chilli, a bay leaf, a twist of black pepper – when it comes to the perfect G&T, variety should be your spice. One of the reasons gin remains so popular is that it can carry big flavours, so make the most of it.

The boom in gins has inspired an accompanying explosion in gin cocktails, particularly the negroni, although the classic martini is also enjoying a resurgence. Both are best with dryer gins, because broad and flowery flavours tend to get lost. You need a gin that's going to give your drink a kick.

Or, if all else fails, just pour your gin over some ice and be done. Because if it’s good enough for Ryan Reynolds, it’ll do us.

The best gins you can drink in 2020

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1 Adnams Orange & Seabuckthorn
world gin day
Adnams Orange & Seabuckthorn Gin

im电竞官网-Adnams is so much more than just beer, and this limited-edition gin is a winner – fresh, zingy but dry nonetheless, with the only sweetness coming in the form of citrus and tropical fruit flavours (orange, mango, pineapple). Garnish with a fresh orange slice.

£29.99 / 70cl; 40% ABV

2 Cotswolds Dry Gin
world gin day
Cotswolds Dry Gin

What they call “pearlescent cloudiness” gives it the appearance of mother of pearl. Sharp and powerful, you get a satisfying thwack of juniper flavour and real pepperiness. Don’t bother with lemon, which would be too acerbic – go for pink grapefruit instead.

£34.95 / 70cl; 46% ABV

3 Mirabeau Rosé Gin
world gin day
Mirabeau Rosé Gin

This may be a pink gin but the hue is so pale you’ll barely notice, especially if you’re mixing it. Made by English winemakers known for their Provence rosés, it’s starting spirit is purely grape-based and there’s a dash of rosé in there too, which lends it a wine-like quality with delicate red-fruit and rosy flavours. Truly sophisticated, it could easily be drunk neat, but if you prefer some dilution then choose a lighter tonic and garnish with a sprig of lavender or rosemary.

£35 / 70cl; 43% ABV

4 Bolney Estate Gin
world gin day
Bolney Estate Gin

Made by another respected winemaker, this time in West Sussex. A clean and crisp dry gin with grassy and herbaceous flavours, and a tiny kick of pepperiness at the end. Pep it up with citrus – the traditional lemon works beautifully.

£35 / 70cl; 40% ABV

5 Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin
world gin day
Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin

We’re used to Japanese whisky, this Kyoto gin proves the country's adeptness at other spirits, too. It’s packed with yuzu, making it the perkiest, punchiest sort of London Dry to make a martini sing. Hints of green tea and ginger keep it from being too abrasive.

£45.95 / 70cl; 45.7% ABV

6 Pink Marmalade Gin
world gin day
Pink Marmalade Gin

im电竞官网-Comes out looking like a blue lagoon and changes to the colour of Parma Violets when mixed with tonic. Leaves you feeling like you’ve just eaten fizzy-sour sweets, and is undeniably one for a party. Garnish with a sliver of pink grapefruit peel.

£30 / 50cl; 42% ABV

7 Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin
world gin day
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin

Tastes bright and lively with a touch of warmth, like an assortment of herbs and spices (chilli, coriander, cumin, black pepper and more). Sounds brash but is done with amazing refinement. Try it with ginger ale, a cinnamon stick and slice of orange.

£34.95 / 70cl; 43% ABV

8 Colonsay Cait Sith
colonsay gin
Colonsay Gin

Pronounced “caught shee” this is an Old Tom gin made on the Hebridean island of Colonsay. It feels much silkier than the others here, with excellently balanced sweetness and hints of liquorice and vanilla. Lemon or grapefruit will keep it fresh.

£35 / 50cl; 40% ABV

9 Boodles Rhubarb & Strawberry
world gin day
Boodles Rhubarb & Strawberry Gin

im电竞官网-You’ll have heard of the brand, but this new version is unashamedly fruity – a celebration of summer, pure and simple. Tastes like strawberry jam but with an edge. Soda water will preserve the flavour, but tonic fires it up. And you may as well go the whole Pimm’s hog and finish it off with sliced strawberry and mint.

£27.95 / 70cl; 37.5% ABV

10 Boatyard Double Gin
boatyard double gin
Boatyard Double Gin

This distillery is in an old boathouse on Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, and if you reallyim电竞官网- love your juniper then it’s the gin for you: it goes through two different processes to impart the berry’s flavour. There’s also a really peppery warmth from both coriander and grains of paradise, so keep it fresh with a good dose of citrus on the side.

£33.95 / 70cl; 46% ABV

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