Happy World Gin Day 2020! This year is a little different. Whilst we would normally be touring our top bars, sampling their special gin cocktails, reacquainting ourselves with past loves and discovering a few new ones, this year’s Coronavirus lockdown means our bums are staying firmly on our sofa. But never fear! Celebrations are in-hand and we have come up with a list of phenomenal gins that every booze lover must try! Let’s take a look at our Best Gins of 2020.
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Gin is a category that has gone…what’s the word? Apesh*t (that’s the one) in the last eight or so years. With sooooooo many brands and expressions out there, navigating these waters sometimes feels like you’re swimming against the current, making it near impossible to happen across something worthwhile. Many gin drinkers we know, understandably choose to stick to a few tried-and-tested bigger brands, whilst others have seemingly given up all together.
However, whilst there is a lot of nonsense out there (and there really is), the boom in gin consumption has also opened up the market to some outstanding brands with incredible depths of experience and knowledge, that are developing exceptional products that are worthy of attention.
Stunning, premium, juniper-forward, “grain-to-glass” expressions that put huge levels of care and attention into every stage of development.
Berthed on the banks of Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, The Boatyard Distillery is captained by industry stalwart, Joe McGirr, previously of Glenmorangie, Möet Hennessy and The London Distillery Company (producers of Dodd’s Gin). Joe is a self-proclaimed evangelist of juniper-forward gins, and has set about creating a classic style with a backdrop flavour of his family’s home of Fermanagh.
Boatyard Double Gin is produced from organic floor malted wheat and Champagne yeast in Érainn, the distillery’s bespoke alembic copper still and benefits from being passed through a juniper filtration system borrowed from Dutch Genever makers. This dual contact with juniper berries gives the spirit its more pronounced flavour of piney notes, pepper and lemon, as well as its moniker of “Double Gin”.
The word “sustainable” gets bandied about a lot these days and is therefore something to be wary of. So, it’s always nice to find a brand that actually has agronomy, zero waste and symbiosis at the heart of its practice.
Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling is rooted amongst 19,000 acres of sprawling farmland and woodlands in the picturesque Wessex Downs. Farmers first, the team prides itself on a deep understanding of and respect for the land, aspiring towards zero impact and a completely integrated estate.
Ramsbury Single Estate Gin is therefore made with Horatio wheat harvested from the Wiltshire fields, that is fermented using water from the ancient aquifer below the land (which is then filtered through a sustainable reed bed system to provide a fantastic habitat for local wildlife). Ingredients used include quince picked from the estate’s orchards, as well as a classic mix of botanicals. The result is a beautifully viscous gin with juniper, fresh citrus and a background roundness of quince.
£32.25. Buy it from Master of Malt.
Wait! Don’t skip this part!!!
To many spirit lovers, the term “flavoured gin” is a cheap, dirty term. This is due to the monstrous proliferation of saccharine, artificially coloured expressions that have taken over supermarket shelves over the past two summers. The below products are not like this at all, with zero artificial sweeteners and an untampered-with appearance. All flavouring is natural, delicious and well-worthy of a taste.
Within the drinks circuit, “Luxardo” and “cherries” go hand-in-hand. There is no one else out there with the brand’s level of experience with the fruit and after 199 years creating spirits and cherry-based liqueurs, we cannot think of anyone better to launch a sour cherry gin.
Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin marries two of the Italian family’s oldest recipes to create a complex and honestly flavoured ode to the Marasca cherry – a varietal that is smaller, darker and more sour than its more common cousins. Made with nine botanicals (juniper, coriander, iris, angelica, sedge, liquorice, cinnamon, cardamom, and bitter orange) and the addition of Marasca cherry wine, Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin is tart and fruity with a full spice bouquet and a luscious length that leaves most other flavoured gins far far in its wake.
We are usually very wary of “floral” gins as they are often like having your face stuffed into a bag of Haribo whilst simultaneously being buried beneath a mountain of potpourri. Thankfully, Barentsz makes no such threat to our being.
The brand’s original gin was inspired by 16th century Artic explorer, Willem Barentsz’ quest for a North-eastern trading route to China by sea. This introduced Chinese jasmine to a classic botanical mix. Barentsz Mandarin & Jasmine takes this journey a step further with the jasmine punched up to 43% and the inclusion of aromatic mandarin peel.
The base spirit blends sweet winter wheat neutral alcohol with creamy golden rye spirit, to create a smooth backdrop on which the botanicals can play. The flavours are fresh, fruity and floral without overpowering the senses, making this a delightful summer drinker.
£36.95. Buy it from Master of Malt.
Time for some delightful oddballs. If you have one of those friends who “doesn’t like gin” or finds the category very same-y, shove these in their face and watch the magic happen. These are unlike any other gins on the market and are incredible drunk in a G&T, cocktail or neat.
We’ve had a booze-based love affair with these guys for a number of years and every so often we feel the need to shout about them from the rooftops.
Crazy Gin is the world’s first clear lassi gin, smashing together the founders’ Indian heritage and British upbringing. The husband-wife team (Crazy Singh and Crazy Kaur) took their brand’s name from Crazy Singh’s mum labelling them “Paagal” (the Punjabi word for “crazy”) when they announced their decision to quit their jobs and make a dual identity gin. Four years’ on and their mad genius has certainly paid off.
Traditional lassi spices (turmeric, black pepper, coriander seeds, black cumin, dried pomegranate seeds) are macerated and distilled separately, before being carefully blended with distilled yoghurt and juniper. These are then fat-washed in ghee, producing a creamy mouthfeel recalling lassi, before being frozen and filtered.
The final product is a refreshing and impossibly smooth gin with a spice flavour kick and delicious texture.
£39.95. Buy it here on Master of Malt.
Canaïma is a gin on a mission to help save the Amazon. The concept was born out of bartending legend, Simone Caporale’s trip to the Peruvian Amazon, where he witnessed the destruction of the rainforest’s fragile ecology in real-time. This sparked in him a desire to take action. Simone teamed up with the founder of Diplomático Rum to develop a new product that would help to support and sustain Amazonian communities.
Using an unusual array of Amazonian botanicals, environmentally sourced by experienced indigenous people from Canaïma National Park, the gin is distilled in small batch copper pot stills at DUSA’s distillery at the foot of the Andes, before being expertly blended by the Diplomático team.
Bizarre and beautiful, with evocative aromas of citrus, earth, wet herbs and bold juniper, leading to a fruity yet savoury taste with incredible complexity, Canaïma is a gin for explorers that will not disappoint. 10% of global sales of Canaima was being donated to two foundations crucial to conservation of the Amazon, Tierra Viva Foundation and Saving the Amazon.