Since 2009, World Gin Day is celebrated annually on the second Saturday in June; and whilst every day of the year is a good one to drink gin, this one clearly calls for a little gin celebration.
As someone who loves gin, I could not be happier for the recent gin boom. Around the world, new innovative gin distillers are coming onto the scene on an almost daily basis, perhaps making this one of the most exciting times to be a gin drinker.
There are now so many excellent gins with different flavour profiles out there, it is starting to get hard to know where to start.
If you wonder what gins you should drink on World Gin Day (or alternatively on any other day you want), below I have put together some of the best gins I’ve had the opportunity to ty recently. They are coming from various corners of the world and all have very different flavour profiles based on the botanicals used. What they all have in common it that they belong to the London Dry Gin family, my favourite type of gin.
A bit about the history of gin
If you follow my blog, you might have realized that I rarely do things without doing some research first. Thus unsurprisingly, I picked up a couple of books about gin to learn more about its background, how it is made, and how it can be used making splashing gin cocktails.
I’ve been pretty intrigued to find out that – while it is true that gin has evolved out of jenever, a liquor originally produced by the Dutch as a type of medicine – the story of juniper berries used for healing, often combined with some sort of alcohol goes back to ancient times.
However, gin as we know it today indeed goes back to genever, a medical liquor based on a malt wine base and juniper berries made in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The drink then was brought to England in the late 1600s when Dutch William of Orange became king of England (then known as William III) who brought the drink with him from the Netherlands to England.
What are the different types of gin
Any gin, no matter what type or flavour profile, needs to be derived from a juniper infusion to be called a gin in the first place.
At this point however, there are various possibilities how to produce gin. The method that is used defines the category a particular gin belongs to.
The major types of gin are the so called compound gins (deriving its flavour from botanicals which are imparted without distillation), Plymouth gin (produced by only one distillery which is also one of the oldest in the UK, drier and more citrus forward then the London Dry Gin and contains seven botanicals: juniper, coriander seed, dried sweet orange peels, cardamom, Angelica root, and Orris root), sloe gin, which is a gin-based liqueur flavoured with sloe berries and finally indeed London Dry gin.
The letter are basically all gins which are distilled at least two times and the final taste and flavour of the product is actually created starting with that second distillation, as this is the moment when the botanicals are added to the process.
Though there are some official rules about the production of London Dry Gin, there is not typical flavour profile of this segment nor are there rules how many or which botanicals to use.
The flavour profile of each gin will be derived by the intensity of juniper berries used along with the supplement of other botanicals including peels, barks, seeds, spices, flowers, and fruits. Which and how many of these botanicals will be used is entirely open to the distiller.
This is where the current craft gin boom is getting so exciting as there is a huge variety of different flavour profiles out there. Indeed, no gin is like the other, promising lots of opportunities to discover many different styles and tastes.
Though the addition of botanicals is up to the distiller, many today focus on botanicals which they can forage locally to create a flavour profile that embraces the destination where a gin is made.
As a side note, London Dry Gin can be produced anywhere in the world. The name is entirely focusing on the production process, not the physical destination where a gin is made.
Where are the best gins coming from
Britain is still considered the home of gin for a good reason. There are now well over 350 gin distilleries in the UK, and the number is still rising.
Gin made in the UK includes such household names like Hendrick’s, Bloom, Beefeater or Bombay Sapphire Gin, and those are still considered among the best in the world.
The great news, however, is that the recent craft gin boom saw the arrival of many new gin distillers in all corners of the world. In fact, from Australia to Europe, the US, South Africa and everywhere in between, you will find lots of great gins.
The best new innovative craft gins to try
I have picked my favourite gins for this world gin day which are great to drink pour but in my view even better to enjoy as a classic gin tonic or to make some exciting gin cocktails.
You might have seen my post about Elephant Gin, but I had to include it in this list again. Firstly because it really tastes amazing, and secondly because of the support the company behind Elephant Gin is providing to elephant conservation in Africa. 15% of the profits from every full-size bottle sold are donated to various charities supporting African elephants, including Big Life Foundation. These foundations help rangers to protect elephants against poachers as well as running education projects in local communities.
Elephant Gin is distilled using 14 botanicals and several are coming from Africa and have never before been used to produce gin: baobab, buchu, lion’s tail, devil’s claw and African wormwood.
It’s very smooth and exposes aromatic dry pine and sweet floral flavours along with other herbal notes.
Try this Almond Flower Collins from the company’s website for a nice and easy refreshing summer drink. In a glass, put some ice cubes. Add 40 ml Elephant London Gin and 35 ml Almond Flower Cordial, then top with soda or tonic and garnish with a lemon slice.
This gin hails from the Amalfi Coast in Italy, an area that may be more closely related to limoncello, the famous lemon liqueur made from the best lemons in the world, the Sfusato Amalfitano (the Amalfi lemon indeed) and the Femminello St. Teresa or Sorrentino (the Sorrento lemon). However, the producers behind Malfy Gin claim gin was invented at the Amalfi Coast by local monks in the 11th century.
Today, Malfy Gin is actually made in Moncalieri, just outside the city of Turin where the distillery was established in 1906.
The Malfy range includes the gin originale (a classic gin), gin rosa, gin with lemon and gin with orange.
The lean and fresh design of the bottles already puts you in a good mood. Especially the Gin with limone design with its bright yellow is a bottle that will draw you to it on a warm summer day with the promise of a citrusy, sunny flavour.
Italy, by no coincidence, is famously called ‘the land where the lemons grow’ and the best are said to come from the Amalfi Coast. The excellent Malfy lemon gin is indeed made from lemons that come from the Amalfi Coast along with those from Sicily.
All you need to enjoy a great Malfy con limone cocktail is some tonic, ice cubes and a slice of lemon.
If a citrus forward gin and tonic is not yet enough Amalfi feeling for your taste, go for an Italian 75. It is one part Malfy lemon gin mixed with 2 parts prosecco and a splash of limoncello.
Can you not be curious when a gin is called the Queen of gins?
MOM Gin is made in the UK even though behind the brand is a family owned company from Andalucía in Spain, the González Byass family. It is one of Spain’s best-known Sherry producers with its origins going back to 1835, headquartered in Jerez de la Frontera. They are indeed behind such well-known brands like Tio Pepe and Lepanto Brandy de Jerez.
The brand today makes a wide range of wines and spirits.
MOM Gin was made in honour of the still famous Queen mom, the late mother of Queen Elizabeth II. Queen mom is said to have enjoyed at least one gin and tonic per day until the day of her death.
MOM Gin is made with more than eight exotic botanicals and berries including jenever, lily root, coriander, spice bark, thyme, Angelica root, liquorice, cranberry and other red berries. The elegant black bottle designed like a historic pharmacy bottle with the white and magenta label – and yes possibly the funny claim – had my immediate attention. On the nose, there are strong aromas of black berries like raspberry and blackberry with slight notes of juniper, coriander and lemon. It tastes slightly sweet and a bit dry, and I would not recommend drinking it pour. However, if you like a gin cocktail that leans slightly on the sweet side, this is a perfect gin to be used.
Nuy Mastery Craft Gin
The Cape Winelands in South Africa are widely known as one of the most exciting regions in the world making world class wines. The area does not stop at making only fantastic wines. In recent years, the area has also started to produce excellent spirits including in large parts brandy and gin.
Indeed, South Africa too has seen its very own gin boom and there are now over 50 distilleries located across the whole country producing fantastic craft gins.
I discovered Nuy Craft Gin during a trip to the Roberson area in the Breede River Valley in South Africa’s Western Cape. The area is part of the renowned Cape Winelands, though it is one of the lesser known (but strongly emerging) wine-making destinations.
Robertson Wine Valley is part of the Route 62 wine route, the longest wine route in the world. The area is also well-known for making excellent brandy. With a strong tradition of distilling, some of the local wineries adding gin to the overall range was likely no surprise.
Nuy Mastery Craft Gin is a gin with tangy, fruity flavours and shows notes of granadilla and mango with a hint of citrus. It is produced by Nuy Winery, located just outside Roberson along the Worcester Wine and Olive Route.
The gin is developing a slightly bluish shadow once you will add tonic to it thanks to the oils of the botanicals added during the distillation process.
It’s a wonderful gin to be simply enjoyed with ice and tonic along with some of the classic add-ons like a slice of lemon or orange, cucumber, mint leaves, a rosemary branch or even a stick of cinnamon.
Will you celebrate World Gin Day and what are your favourite gin cocktails? I’d be curious to know.