We've grown tired of having the same old debate every time we go for work drinks (Gordon's vs. Beefeater), so for the past three weeks we've been meticulously sampling every gin we can possibly get our hands on. Yes, productivity has fallen. Yes, page impression and unique visitors are down. And yes, the site has lost a 40% revenue share as a direct result, but look at what we've done! It's the world's ten best gins.
And there's no Bombay Sapphire (although we did try to make a mulled version for Christmas...)
Handcrafted in small batches at Balmenach Distillery in Scotland's Speyside region, it's an unusually herbal experience thanks to its use of Rowan Berry. The well balanced fruity flavours of the Caorunn make it exceedingly drinkable. Dry and crisp when neat, use tonic sparingly so as not to lose its subtle notes.
Now this is one where you will need tonic. One of our writers described this as having "a huge bouquet" before rather harshly being pelted with lemon slices. But he has a point. There's an earthy richness twinned with citrus, that really keeps you on your toes. Looks great to order, tastes great to drink.
By the way, if you're going to buy it online as a gift we recommend Alexander & James. Each bottle is packaged and sent with a personalised toast for free.
Hayman's 1850 Reserve
The third gin to be introduced by the Hayman's distillery this one is akin to the gin that would be served in ‘Gin Palaces’ of Victorian times. It's a very subtle and smooth gin with mellow notes of wood (it is rested in wood for 4 weeks). On top of that is has hints of spice and pepper from the juniper and coriander. A very good all rounder. Like Kolo Toure, only, you know... a gin.
It's just brilliant, isn't it? You don't need us to tell you that. With cucumber, in the sun.
We played golf recently with a guy whose job it is to taste spirits for a global hotel brand. He swore blind that Beefeater is the best gin he's ever had. Though we wouldn't go that far, we do love Beefeater 24. Made in the heart of London at the Kennington distillery using a recipe that took 18 months to develop. It includes Seville orange peel, lemon peel, bitter almond, angelica root, angelica seed, juniper, liquorice, orris root, coriander, a blend of Chinese green & Japanese sencha teas and grapefruit peel. What does that mean? Well a liquorice-influenced finish means that you won't forget drinking it. Save until late in the evening.
The branding says it's floral, most reviews say it's all perfumey, but we just weren't getting that. Not in a sickly way, anyway. And that was the concern. Deliciously citrus, it's easy on the juniper making it a great gin for non-gin loving gin drinkers. And we realise how odd that sounds. Essentially, what we're saying is, if you want to start an evening with a gin, this is the one.
Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Blackfriars
When it comes to the cheaper end of the gin spectrum, people rave about Aldi's Oliver Cromwell gin (£9.65). And to be fair it has won awards. However, when we're feeling frugal we turn to Sainsbury's Blackfriars. At the moment 70cl will cost you £13. Made by Greenall's it won both a gold medal and best in class at the International Spirits Challenge 2011.
An incredibly fun gin that serves the purpose of getting sozzled better than all others. Haling from the Black Forest in Germany, the name comes from the number of botanicals that go into this unique gin, and the fact it's bottled at bedtime-inducing 47% proof. Palate-wise it's complex (there are 47 tastes inthere!), woody,spicey, fruity and herby. Pretty much everything a gin can be.
Our favourite summer gin thanks to its slight, but not intense, perfumy charm. Started in 1990 and distilled in the black country from 10 botanicals, Millers is blended with Icelandic water. It's little surprise they had revenue of almost £13m last year, after a 100pc increase in the number of cases sold. It's stunning.
Our pick of the bunch. With flavours of juniper, apple and elderflower alongside subtle citrus, this is the ultimate tonic partner. Some serve with a slice of fresh apple but we like it just the way it is. The finished gin is distilled over 100 times with the entire process taking over two years, from orchard to bottle. You can genuinely taste the effort that goes into it. And it 48% you can taste the booze that goes into it. Treat it with care.