Content provided by Emily Roberts and Sam Blackburn.
Gin is most definitely ‘in’ this holiday season.The industry is booming and the International Wine and Spirit Competition www.iwsc.net reports that entries for gin increased by an incredible 240% this past year.With new gins being launched every month, it can be difficult to know where to start.We’ve undertaken extensive sampling sessions to gather together ten of the best on offer – five fruity festive treats and five straight-up classics.
Here’s our list:
1) Nelson’s Gin Rhubarb and CustardYou’ll feel like a kid in a sweetshop with this delicious take on a classic British flavour combination from Staffordshire distiller Nelson’s Gin.Their award-winning Rhubarb and Custard gin edges ahead of other rhubarb-flavoured gin thanks to the additional twist of custard that will both surprise and delight.The gin is made with global botanicals, infusing lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves from Thailand, cinnamon from Sri Lanka and all-important vanilla from Madagascar.The taste of this gin is so good on its own that you won’t need to make a cocktail, although there’s no harm in experimenting. ABV 41%, 70cl, Â£40 direct from Nelson’s Gin.
2) Jawbox Pineapple and Ginger
For a more tropical taste, we turned to the crafty folks at Jawbox, who have picked pineapple as their fruit of choice, blended it with ginger for a bit of a kick and added it to their classic gin. The result is a 20% strength gin liqueur that works splendidly as an after-dinner treat or as the perfect root for any number of cocktails. You won’t go far wrong with a straightforward but punchy pineapple and ginger cocktail that’s really easy to make. Just take 50ml of Jawbox Pineapple and Ginger Gin Liqueur, add 100ml of ginger ale, a wedge of lime and ice.Simplicity in a glass. ABV 20%, 70cl, Â£23.39 from Drink Supermarket.
3) Whitley Neill RaspberryScottish raspberries take centre stage in Whitley Neill Raspberry Gin and it’s a unique drink to serve to your Christmas party guests. The notes of juniper, coriander and liquorice give way to the sweet and vibrant raspberry taste with a hint of blackberries.
For a cocktail, a sophisticated RaspberryCollins can be made by taking 50ml of Whitley Neill Raspberry Gin, adding a teaspoon of sugar, three fresh raspberries and half a lemon, topped with soda and garnished with raspberry and mint leaves. ABV 43%, 70cl, Â£24.95 from The Juniper Club.
4) Malfy Blood OrangeHeading south to Italy, the creative minds at Malfy have blended a sumptuous gin that uses blood orange peels sourced from Sicily.
The orange peels are harvested in November, mixed with juniper and other botanicals to create a gin rich in colour and taste – just in time for Christmas.
To create La Bella Vista cocktail, use two parts Malfy Blood Orange gin, three parts grapefruit juice and a splash of soda.
Garnish with a wedge of (Sicilian) orange, naturally. ABV 41%, 70cl, Â£26.95 from Amazon.
Available in eye-catching, two-tone purple bottles, GinTing is the ultimate fruit lover’s gin. Using botanicals such as coriander seeds, cassia bark, coriander seeds, and orange and lemon peel, the flavour is enhanced by an infusion of passion fruit, mango and elderflower, plus hints of grapefruit.
The result is a smooth, refreshing flavour ideal for making cocktails.
Our favourite is GinTing’s Peach Bellini recipe, mixing 25ml of GinTin premium dry gin with 10ml of peach liqueur, chilled prosecco and a slice of peach to garnish. ABV 42.5%, 70cl, Â£37.50 from GinTing
6) Slingsby Navy Strength Gin
At the stronger end of the scale, Slingsby Navy Strength Gin clocks in at 57% alcohol by volume, strong enough for gunpowder to still ignite if the gin should be accidentally spilled on it.
Despite its strength, this gin still packs plenty of flavour. The botanical mix includes primrose, sweet cicely, nettle, rhubarb, milk thistle, rosehip and – somewhat uniquely – Taylors of Harrogate green and jasmine tea.
To create a Slingsby Teatox cocktail, take 35ml of Slingsby Navy Strength Gin, 50ml of green and jasmine tea and a dash of rosemary and thyme syrup a shake.
Pour over ice and top with tonic, garnishing with grapefruit and rosemary. ABV 57%, 70cl, Â£52.99 from Spirit of Harrogate.
7) Rock Rose Premium Scottish Gin
Back up to Scotland and to the far north for a hand-distilled gin fromy Dunnet Bay Distillers inCaithness.
Rock Rose Gin derives from the rhodiola rosea, the key botanical ingredient whose name means ‘rose that grows in the rocks’, in this case the cliffs of the Pentland Firth.
According to folklore, the Vikings used to forage on the cliffs as the plant was believed to give warriors extra strength.
The taste is sweet and fresh with a unique berry blend.
Serve with Scottish tonic water and rosemary for a classic gin and tonic with a highland twist. ABV 41.5%, 70cl, Â£34 from Dunnet Bay Distillers.8) Aber Falls Welsh Dry Gin
Over to Wales for a traditional London Dry-style gin bursting with Welsh character.
Aber Falls Welsh Dry Gin is made using water from the mountains around Aber Falls in Gwynedd, North Wales.
The traditional botanicals give this gin a citrus tang with liquorice, coriander and of course juniper.
A classy cocktail is the Menai Martini, made using 37.5ml of Aber Falls Welsh Dry Gin and 5ml of dry vermouth mixed with ice before being served in a chilled Martini glass, garnished with lemon and lime rinds.
James Bond would approve. ABV 41.3%, 70cl, Â£27.95 from Master of Malt
9) Aldi Oliver Cromwell London DryThe budget option at just over Â£14 for a litre bottle is Aldi’s Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin. It is a clear, crisp gin with juniper and spice coming through, a no-nonsense classic that offers tremendous value for money.
It’s also ideal for parties as you can make 20 double-measure cocktails from each bottle. Impress your family and friends with a Southside, which is gin’s answer to the mojito. You’llneed 50ml of gin, 20ml of lime, 15ml of sugar syrup and a handful of mint leaves for each serving, plus ice to mix. ABV 37.5%, 1l, Â£14.19 from Aldi.
10) Brockmans Premium GinAn exquisite premium gin comes from Brockmans, slowly distilled in a 100-year-old copper still and combining classic flavours with carefully chosen fruity notes.
Blueberries and blackberries feature, as do Valencian oranges, Bulgarian coriander and Tuscan juniper berries. It’s a smooth gin with a slight gingery, citrus taste that works perfectly with ginger ale or classic tonic.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try Brockmans’ own Gin Kir recipe, mixing 50ml Brockmans Gin, 50ml white wine and 25ml Lejay Crème de Cassis, stirred with ice until chilled and strained into a flute glass, served with a skewer topped with a blueberry and a white grape. ABV 40%, 70cl, Â£26.99 from Ministry of Drinks.