The best gins to drink in 2023 - 42 amazing gin brands tested
Updated: The best gin for gin and tonic and more.
If you’re hunting for the best gin, then you’ve landed in the right place. Here at ShortList we have a gang of experts busy taste testing the greatest gins you can buy right now to let you know which gin is right for you, covering taste, value and price.
We know that finding the best gin isn’t easy. There are many brands to choose from and often different varieties within them – that’s before you even consider the growing range of flavoured gins. There’s also then the tricky task of figuring out what you should pair your gin with – getting the right combination of gin and tonic can be all the difference between a mediocre medley and one of the best drinks of all time.
UPDATE: We are in the middle of taste testing a number of new gins for 2023, but in the meantime we’ve added some brands we think you should try to our list. Including the eye-wateringly priced Seventy One Eau de Nuit gin with the price tag, luxe vibes and looks of a premium bottle of cologne. We’ve also added the Botanist Islay Dry Gin, a combination of wild flowers and herbs from Islay that taste fresh, pure and delicious in this distinctive gin.
There’s a reason why picking the best gin for you is harder than ever. Over the past few years, the alcohol category has been booming – especially when it comes to new gins. This is all thanks to the relaxation of the gin producing rules around a decade ago, which has meant that small batch gin makers have cropped up everywhere – and there are plenty of small batch gin makers on this list.
But that’s where we come back to the initial problem. It can be difficult to find the best gin because there are simply so many to choose from. That’s why we’ve done you a favour and sieved through the rest to bring you only the best gins, all taste tested by the Shortlist team.
Make sure that you vote for your favourite tipple and if your gin of choice isn't in the list, let us know below and we'll try and get it in to sample so we can see how it compares to all of the others. If you are looking for a slightly cheaper tipple (that is still fantastic) then head to our best supermarket gin list, where we've done hundreds of hours of taste testing. If you want pink gin or a gin that's sweeter, then let our best flavoured gin list be your guide. And you will also need a mixer – that's where our best tonic water list comes in.
Below we have a number of fantastic gins listed that have successfully made it through our taste test. If you want to learn a little more about gin, then we have everything from how to make the best gin and tonic, how to taste gin like a pro to a definition of all the different gin varieties below. Enjoy!
The best gin
1. Monkey 47
An incredibly fun gin that hales 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, also, pleasingly, forty-seven different tastes packed in there). Woody, spicy, fruity, and herby: it is pretty much everything a gin can be.
2. Pink Marmalade Gin
A new addition to our list, this colour-changing gin is a premium brand that would make a fantastic gift. It turns from blue to rose pink in your glass and contains a mixture of flavours, including juniper berries, dried orange zest, lime leaf, almond, liquorice root and many more.
Just brilliant, isn’t it? You don’t need us to tell you that. It contains 11 botanicals, along with cucumber and rose to give it that distinctive flavour. To best enjoy, have it with cucumber, in the sun. Obviously. This is a classic stepping stone gin for those looking to branch out beyond the basics. Try it out in the early part of your gin odyssey.
4. Ableforth's Bathtub Gin
Made using the traditional method of Cold Compounding, in which the spirit is slowly infused with botanicals including orange peel, coriander and cardamom, this gin has strong notes of citrus and spice. The award-winning gin is best served over ice with tonic and a wedge of orange.
5. Tanqueray No. Ten
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, too, in its lurid green bottle, and tastes great to drink.
6. Isle of Harris Gin
From the use of locally sourced Sugar Kelp, to the fact that every beautifully-designed bottle is hand-sealed, the Isle of Harris Distillery makes sure to put the Scottish Isle at the heart of their distilling process. The gin itself is infused with nine botanicals including a sweet citrus of orange peel, complemented by the fresh herbal flavour of crushed coriander and the base of Juniper. The Sugar Kelp adds a maritime note to this award-winning gin. Every bottle is shipped directly from the distillery in the Outer Hebrides.
7. Cotswold Gin
Cotswolds Dry Gin has been distilled with a blend of aromatic botanicals - think freshly hand-peeled grapefruit, lime and local Cotswolds lavender. The gin is made using a method called non-chill filtering, which basically means the oils are retained, giving the bottles a cloudy, pearlescent finish when mixed with tonic. The result? Not only does this look the part but tastes thoroughly delightful.
8. Mermaid Zest Gin
This new bottle from the Isle of Wight distillery is an absolute joy to drink. It is packed with citrus fruits and uses a number of coastal botanicals which includes rock samphire and rosemary. Juniper is in the background for this drink, with a punch of grapefruit front and centre. Lovely stuff
9. Seventy One Eau de Nuit gin
One of the newer additions to our list, you might be surprised to learn that yes, this is a bottle of gin and not a fancy perfume or cologne. This gin was created by fashion photographer Mert Atlas, who spent years perfect its taste. Its name comes from the fact that this gin spends 71 nights in three different oak casks. It’s incredibly expensive, but if you’re looking for a premium gin or an extremely luxe gift, you’ve found it.
10. Gin Mare
Gin Mare is a Mediterranean gin which has one of the most unique tastes on this best gin list (in a good way!). From our taste tests, we got rosemary, thyme and basil notes, making this a savoury, earthy gin. There are pepper and olive notes, too. While a straight-up tonic tasted brilliant with Gin Mare, we also tried it with ginger ale and the taste was excptional.
11. The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
This hand-crafted gin comes from the Scottish island of Islay. Made from 22 local hers and flowers that have then been distilled with nine classic gin botanicals, the result is a smooth blend that’s delicious and unique to this part of the world. It’s a solid base for a gin martini, but would also taste just as special if you keep things simple and pair it with a little tonic over ice.
12. Hendrick's Neptunia Gin
This is the newest release on our best gin list and it's fantastic. Hendrick's has taken botanicals from around the Ayrshire coast (where its distillery is) to create a refreshing gin that's high on citrus notes. This one tastes great with a plain tonic - there are some great lemon and cucumber notes that come through strong, so we were happy not to add anything else to our G&T when taste testing.
It's worth noting that this one is a limited edition, but as you can still get its Lunar edition from last year, we are including it on our best gin list, but will keep an eye on availability.
13. G'Vine Nouaison Gin
We really like the taste of G'Vine Nouaison Gin. It's on the spicier end of the gin spectrum, so we recommend really given your drink a taste sensation and adding this to a chilli-infused cocktail. Have it with tonic, though, and you will be rewarded with a sharp-tasting, fruit filled gin with a rich and spicy after taste. If you want an extra-special treat then get the bottle that's been matured in a cognac cask.
14. Bullards Coastal Gin
It's really refreshing when a coastal gin represents the sea in its taste and this is exactly what we have with Bullards Coastal Gin. There's a slight saltiness to the smell which is mixed nicely with woody juniper and fennel notes. All of this makes for a well rounded gin that works well with some dark fruits to cut through. The sample we received also came with a re-fill in eco-friendly packaging that can be sent back to the distiller for recycling which is a really nice touch.
15. Warner's London Dry Gin
Warner's London Dry Gin is made on a farm in Harrington, using home-grown ingredients and it shows. The fragrance and freshness of this gin is something else, rich with juniper and spice but with a mellowness thanks to vanilla. It's best served without garnish but with Indian tonic and ice. At a recent taste test we tried it just like that and neat, and it really is a lovely, refreshing drink.
16. Tulchan Gin
From its fantastic bottle - we love the tartan groove - to the fact that Tulchan Gin makes use of Scottish flora, we can't get enough of this gin. Its got a brilliant whack of citrus then a cardamom hit. It may have a floral smell, but the taste is far intenser than that. Lovely stuff.
17. G'Vine Floraison Gin
The G'Vine Floraison Gin is a French gin which has a distinctive grape flavour. This makes it an ideal replacement to vodka in cocktails of mixers. With a tonic you get a delicate floral finish with a hint of spice. Definitely one for those who find juniper a little too overpowering.
18. Hernö Old Tom Gin
This one is rather special. Hernö Old Tom Gin is a sweeter gin, which offers notes of coriander and juniper, backed by a slight honey taste. We mixed it with a tonic and some lemon and that really enhanced the flavours on offer. The distiller, based in Sweden, has an amazing track record for gin and you can also get Hernö as Navy Strength, traditional Dry Gin and the original Juniper Cask Gin.
19. Aval Dor - Cornish Gin
Having gone through both a name and bottle makeover, the gin formerly known as Stafford Dry Gin is back as Aval Dor Cornish Gin. This rebranding makes sense and aligns the drink closer to Colwith Farm Distillery's award-winning vodka. Taste wise, we are big fans. There's a real push here of citrus and juniper, with a punch bitterness in the after taste. Like Warner's, the makers of this gin utilise ingredients grown on their farm in Cornwall and it really shows in the taste. We taste tested the original, but there is a dry gin and some flavoured gins available
20. Salcombe Gin - Start Point
This copper pot still gin is an absolute delight. There's a real smoothness here which was welcomed - when we tried the gin neat - but it really came to life when we added a touch of citrus-based tonic. There's a real punch to the flavours, with lime and juniper being stand out. While we recommend Start Point, we were also lucky enough to taste test one of the bottles from the limited-edition Voyager Series. It's pricey at £75 but also a fantastic buy.
21. Darnley's Original Gin
Darnley's Original Gin is fantastically fresh, with decent hit of lemon. Scottish-based, Darley's have also looked for local produce to create the flavour of its Original Gin, adding in elderflower that grows around their estate. This makes for both citrus and floral notes throughout. And, given it's a London Dry, there's a nice dose of juniper, too. We tried this one with a glug of tonic water and a lemon slice and it worked a treat.
22. Barra Atlantic Gin
There has been a theme the gins we have been taste testing of late - they all come from distillers close to the coast. Barra Atlantic Gin offers that coastal taste tinge that we wanted, using carrageen seaweed as its main botanical. This gives the gin a beautiful saltiness that's cut through with sharpness from a number of citrus notes. All of this combined creates a lovely warming gin, perfect night cap for those who have spent the afternoon in a cool se.
23. Cantium Gin
We were really impressed with the taste of Cantium Gin. Distilled in Kent, the gin uses locally sourced botanicals. There's Lavender, Cobnuts, Apples, Blackberry and Hops and roasted Kentish Chestnuts all in there and it makes for a fresh, rounded taste that worked well with a cucumber-based tonic. The gin comes in a reusable flask (just give it a bit of a wash first) which is a nice touch, although it is a touch more expensive than some of the others on this list. We think you'll hear a lot more about Cantium in the near future.
24. Malfy Gin Con Arancia
It's rare we will add a flavoured gin to our best gin list but this is just a fantastic gin from Malfy. Known for its premium gins, the Malfy Gin Con Arancia has all the taste of the Amalfi coast and then some, offering a vibrant punchy taste of blood orange that comes with a sharp gin after hit. It's a drink to be savoured and one that demands lots of fruit, tonic and ice in the glass.
25. Opihr Oriental Spiced London Dry Gin
We've been sitting on this one for a while, not quite sure if the taste was for us. It's usually our rum that we like spiced but then we paired Opihr with a ginger ale and were blown away. This is a bit like the Thomas Dakin on this list, which uses horseradish, it's not for everyone but if you want a kick with your G&T then Opihr offers that and more, with hints of cardamon and black pepper.
26. Height Of Arrows Gin
There is a lot of charm in this beautiful gin from the Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh. It has a real fresh tang to it, with everything from green apples to mint hitting the palette. The use of beeswax in the distillation means that there is a slight oily texture to the gin that offer a peppered heat on the way down. This is one to savour.
27. Thomas Dakin (70cl)
Thomas Dakin has a taste that isn't for everyone - and it's all to do with one of the 11 botanicals they use for the gin. It's uses horseradish that gives the drink a savoury kick in its aftertaste. It's quite a full flavour but mix it with something citrusy like a bitter lemon tonic or some orange peel and you have a lovely flavoursome taste. Interestingly, this gin's origins are found in Warrington but it is branded Manchester on the bottle. Given Thomas Dakin is opening up a new distillery in Manchester, we can forgive them.
28. LoneWolf Cloudy Lemon Gin
We were lucky enough to visit the Brewdog Brewery last year and were surprised just how much effort it was putting into its spirits range. So much, we just had to get a bottle of their gin in to taste. In the end we got two: its dry gin and this cloudy lemon variant. If the sun ever comes out again, then this is the gin to go for. It's a creamy gin, rather than being acidic and goes really well with a plain tonic. The lemon blast is natural, not chemical, and we can't get enough.
29. Bucks Brothers - Buckinghamshire Dry Gin
Bucks Brothers dry gin is made by a couple of brothers in Buckinghamshire - it's relatively new with the brothers creating the gin while the world is on lockdown and it takes fantastic. It's copper pot distilled and has a real earthy quality to it. If you want a gin with a fruit twist then there's also a pomegranate and sloe gin available and a imencello one on the way.
30. Tobermory Gin
It took us a while to get round to tasting Tobermory Gin as it came to us with an adult colouring book. Once we put the pencils down, though, this is a great-tasting gin from the Isle of Mull. The Hebridean gin is distilled with botanicals including juniper, tea, heather, elderflower, sweet orange peel and uses a splash of spirit from its whisky distillery. This makes for a G&T with something of a kick, packed with earthy notes. We had it with ginger ale, too, and that was a lovely pairing
31. Colonsay Cait Sith
We first heard about Colonsay Cait Sith (pronounced Caught Shee) on World Gin Day. Since then we have been sent a bottle and it is deserving to be in this list. It's a Scottish gin that's Old Tom style (which is sweeter than a London dry variety), so it's less about the botanics and more about the orange, pink grapefruit and vanilla taste. It's a really refreshing gin that we had with tonic and lots of ice. It also has one of the nicest bottles we have seen, so if you are all about the shelf appeal, then this is the gin for you.
32. Bloom London
The branding says it’s floral, most reviews say it’s perhaps too perfume-y, but we just weren’t getting that. Not in a sickly way, anyway. 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: if you want to start an evening with a gin, this is the one.
33. Conker Gin
Made in Dorset's first gin distillery, Conker Gin is a multi award-winning spirit. Those at Conker Spirit do their best to source local produce so it is made from a blend of British wheat spirit and New Forest spring water. It is then infused with local botanicals including marsh samphire from the Dorset coastline, coriander seeds grown in Sussex and gorse flowers from Dorset. The final taste is juniper-led with a sweetness from elderberries and a citrus finish.
34. Martin Miller’s
This is our favourite summer gin thanks to its slight, but not intense, perfumed charm. A self-consciously ‘old-school’ gin (despite being first created in 1990), distiller Martin Miller wanted to create a gin that “tasted of gin” and not, in his words, “of some highly flavoured confection”. Distilled in the Black Country from ten botanicals, Miller’s is blended with Icelandic water to simple, stunning effect.
35. No.3 London Dry Gin
It was only right that No.3 made our list after winning the International Spirits Challenge ‘Best in Class’ gin trophy four times - along with another 20 awards since 2010. The main flavours in this ‘world class’ spirit are the classic gin botanicals of juniper, citrus and spice. That means that it’s crisp, 'zingy' taste is followed by the warmth of cardamom and a final dryness from angelica. Best served with tonic, a big wedge of grapefruit and a sprig of rosemary.
36. Greyson’s London Dry Gin at Aldi
Yes, the worst kept secret in bargain food-shopping is also home to, officially, one of the world’s best gins. Formerly the Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin, and now Greyson's London Dry Gin, it won a gold medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition and it’s hard to argue (especially with its price set at a lip-smacking £14.19) with its bone dry and straight-forward flavouring, this gin is unfussy and versatile with notes of juniper, lemon, and orange peel before fading to reveal hints of hot wax. Your booze cupboard deserves this bargain.
37. The Classic Edinburgh Gin
Known for all manner of fruity variations, The Classic Edinburgh Gin is an offering worthy of even the most refined palate. Its distinctive bottle and graphics are pleasing on the eye, while its smooth flavour will have you happily sipping away contently for longer than you care to admit.
38. Brockmans Intensely Smooth
You might not be surprised to hear Brockmans Intensely Smooth is… intensely smooth. Like having George Clooney pull out your chair and light you a cigarette… only a gin. Made with Bulgarian coriander, blueberries, blackberries, and bittersweet Valencia orange peels, the result is a gin bursting with flavour that doesn’t forgo balance for punch.
39. William Chase
This is the ultimate tonic partner, with flavours of juniper, apple and elderflower alongside subtle citrus. 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.
40. Theodore Pictish Gin
This Scottish gin is “powered by the spirit of the Picts” - an ancient tribe that once settled near the distillery’s home (because, of course it is). The gin contains 16 botanicals that Greenwood Distillery believe the Picts could have encountered. Citric Pomelo and Kaffir Lime give it a fresh, citrus flavour with a floral bouquet from Oolong tea, chamomile and lavender.
41. Beefeater 24
Made in the heart of London at the Kennington distillery using a recipe that took eighteen months to develop, Beefeater 24 includes Seville orange peel, lemon peel, bitter almond, angelica root, angelica seed, juniper, liquorice, orris root, coriander, and a blend of Chinese green and Japanese sencha teas with grapefruit peel. What does that mean? Well, it means a liquorice-influenced finish means that you won’t forget drinking it. Save until late in the evening.
Handcrafted in small batches at Balmenach Distillery in Scotland’s Speyside region, Caorunn is an unusually herbal experience thanks to its use of Rowan Berry. The well balanced fruity flavours of the gin make it exceedingly drinkable: dry and crisp when neat, use tonic sparingly so as not to lose its subtle notes.
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How to taste gin like a pro
Take it neat: If you really want to get the flavours of the gin, then your first taste should be neat, without tonic or ice.
Find the right glass: As with most spirits, any glass that has a tulip shape works best. This is when the glass is fatter at the bottom and slimmer at the top. These glasses are said to offer the best way for the drink to be tasted - the bulbous bottom gives the gin a chance to swirl around.
If you do it in a standard shot glass, then you are mostly just getting the ethanol fume and that isn’t a good thing.
Have a coffee break: Coffee beans are a great palette cleanser. Take a bunch and break them up in your palm and give them a good sniff before and after a taste test. This will prime your buds for tasting gin and getting the most out of the notes. A simple sip of water will really help with making sure your tongue is ready, too.
Once that’s done, coat your palm with gin, leave it a few seconds so the alcohol disappears, cup and smell - this will offer up the aroma notes of the gin before you actually taste.
Swirl and sniff: this goes for any type of tasting - swirl the liquid (in a tulip glass) before you sip and give the notes a good sniff before tasting. When it’s in the mouth coat the whole of the moth and then swallow, breathing out as you do.
What to look for when buying gin
One of the simplest ways to make sure you are getting the right gin for your taste buds is to study the botanicals that have been used.
If you are looking for a floral gin, then find ingredients that are plant and flower based. If you prefer your gin with a bit more fruit, then look for any added fruit infusions.
What different gin varieties are there?
One of the simplest ways to make sure you are getting the right gin for your taste buds is to study the botanicals that have been used. If you are looking for a floral gin, then find ingredients that are plant and flower based. If you prefer your gin with a bit more fruit, then look for any added fruit infusions. In the broadest of strokes, though, here are the most famous varieties of gin:
What is London Dry gin?
If you want a real blast of juniper with your gin, then look for a London Dry variety. Interestingly - and confusingly - London Dry gin doesn’t have to be made in London, it is a production method that distillers have to abide by.
What is Plymouth Gin?
Up until 2015, this was gin made in Plymouth UK (hence the name). Now, there is only one distillery in Plymouth. Plymouth Original Strength is 41.2% and isn’t quite as dry as the London gin variant.
What is Old Tom gin?
This is a recipe that dates back to the 18th Century and is sweeter than London Dry and is famous for being used in the Tom Collins cocktail.
What is Navy Strength gin?
If a gin is 57% ABV then it is Navy Strength, the term given to gin that wouldn’t spoil gunpowder when it got in the explosive mix on the high seas. Due to the high ABV, this gin is better mixed and in cocktails.
What is small batch gin?
In 2009, the UK allowed small batch distilling to take place which is why gin exploded during 2010 and has been the same ever since. It essentially means gin that isn’t distilled in industrial quantities and, in turn, by big manufacturers. This means you can get some cracking gin from smaller distillers.
What is bathtub gin?
This is gin that was originally not made by professionals (so in the home) and because of this the quality varied. It’s now a brand owned by Ableforth which uses a different distillation process to normal gin - it’s definitely not made in a bathtub but a copper still.
How to make the perfect gin and tonic
Sam Carter, senior ambassador at the Bombay Sapphire Laverstoke Mill Distillery, tells us (and you) how to make the perfect gin and tonic.
“Preparation is key. You need to make sure you have everything to hand so when it comes to making the drink it’s easy and stress free.
Here’s what you need…
- Large clean highball glass
- Good quality ice cubes - this will chill the drink quicker resulting in less dilution and keeping it colder for longer.
- Bottle of your gin of choice (I use Bombay Sapphire due to its fresh forest floor pine notes and spicy character).
- The finest chilled organic tonic water (my favourite is made by FeverTree and using the 200ml bottles means it is always fresh)
- Fresh green lime
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Bottle opener
- Long spoon
1. Start by rolling your lime on a chopping board with the palm of your hand for 10 strokes. What this does is massage the fruit to get the juices flowing. You’ll be able to get a higher yield of juice from each wedge so it’s good for your wallet.
2. Now you’re ready to cut your lime into wedges. Stop! To do this, don’t cut it in half from head to tail but through the circumference of the fruit then, whilst resting the flat area on the board, cut the two halves into four wedges (cut across the segments).
You should end up with eight perfectly formed wedges which are juicy and raring to add aroma and flavour. Oh, and, if you don’t happen to use up all your lime wedges in one go place them in a sealable container and pop in the freezer. This way they are ready to be used next time as lime flavoured ice cubes.
3. Next take one of your perfectly cut lime wedges and between thumb and forefinger, squeeze into the bottom of the highball glass then drop in the wedge.
4. Grab a bottle of Bombay Sapphire around the neck and if you’re lucky enough to have a barman’s pourer in your bottle then turn it upside down over the glass and count to five. This should give you a double measure (50ml). If you don’t have a pourer then you could use the cap. This measures 15ml - measure out 3 of these add one last splash for luck.
5. Next, fill the glass to the top with ice then stir for a few seconds with the long spoon.
Open your chilled bottle of FeverTree tonic water just before you need it so it’s lively then pour 100ml over the ice.
Let the bubbles settle then stir for a couple of revolutions to mix the drink and create a consistent flavour. If needed, add more ice cubes to bring the water line to around 1cm from the top of the glass (not more tonic) then add a second lime wedge (not squeezed) perfectly positioned on the top of your tipple to add aroma and visual appeal, but little extra flavour.
I’m not keen on ‘rimming the glass’ with the lime wedge juice as it has a tendency to overpower the drink and also makes the outside of the glass wet and sticky. Finally add a clear straw to the glass if you want it.
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