Spring has sprung, the mercury is starting to rise and it’s time to do the drinks cabinet shuffle: put away your bottle of whisky and crack open the gin.
Whether you like it over ice with oceans of tonic or in a martini that is drier than the desert, you’re sure to find a bottle here that will tickle your taste buds.
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10 best gins
10 best gins
1/10 Broker’s Gin
With its twee bowler-hat top and image of an umbrella-wielding gent on its label, it would be easy to dismiss Broker’s as cheap and gimmicky. But the premium dry London gin is crisp, light and as refreshing as a 40 per cent alcohol spirit ever gets. £20.99, drinksdirect.co.uk
2/10 Elephant Gin
A gin with a conscience. Fifteen per cent of the profits from the sale of this German premium dry goes to two African elephant charities. And if that isn’t enough for you, the subtle apple flavours surely will be. £40.00, harveynichols.com
Sipsmith gin, which is made in a copper still in a lock-up in Hammersmith, is one of only four licenced gin distilleries in London, and the first new one to open in 189 years. It’s rounded and complex and makes a cracking martini. £27.75, ocado.com
4/10 Monkey 47
There is a whole world of flavour in each glass of this gin and it’s skilfully made, too. A whopping 47 plants and berries go into this German spirit (half of them are picked from the Black Forest) and it is practically unrivalled in its tongue-tickling complexity. £46, harveynichols.com
5/10 Gordon’s Elderflower
This is the sort of hybrid that would have the denizens of Pall Mall’s gents’ clubs spluttering into their pre-dinner stiffeners. But it shouldn’t. Gordon’s has a long history of creating flavoured gins (they first did so in the 1920s) and this sweetish spirit is rather good. £16.25, thewhiskyexchange.com
6/10 Gin Mare
This Spanish spirit – which is pronounced “mar-ray”, rather than like the horse – is distilled in small quantities on the Costa Dourada and is rich in Mediterranean flavours. Serve over ice with tonic and savour the olive, thyme, basil and rosemary botanicals. £38.35, waitrose.com
7/10 Fifty Pounds
Not only is this named after the £50 annual tax the 1736 Gin Act levied on those wanting to produce “mother’s ruin”, this south-London distilled spirit follows a 200-year-old recipe, too. It is distilled four times and has a nice lemon peel twang to it. £42.99, selfridges.com
This is made using the London Dry method – which involves the botanicals being added directly to the spirit in the copper still to give things extra oomph – and is a particularly good choice of method here given that Adnams adds, somewhat unusually, hibiscus flowers to the mix. The dainty flowers lend it a sophisticated bitter and flowery finish. £26.99, cellarandkitchen.adnams.co.uk
Sacrilege it may be to say it, but this American gin, which is distilled in the spiritual home of all “scenesters” Portland, Oregon, blows a lot of its London competitors out of the water. It’s soft, creamy, a touch sweet and has none of the bite you expect from an 84 per cent proof spirit. £32.35, thewhiskyexchange.com
Hendricks is possibly the most hipsterish gin on the market, but don’t let that put you off. Produced by William Grant & Sons in Grivan, Scotland since 1999, this is a subtle tipple with nice hints of cucumber and rose petal. £27.00, tesco.com
It is strange that people assume that all gins, unlike, say, whiskies, taste pretty much the same. There is, in fact, a world of difference between competing brands. Gin Mare, for instance, with all its rich Mediterranean botanicals, is just thing for a nice G&T; whereas, if I wanted a martini, I would crack open the Sipsmiths. A good all-rounder to keep in your cupboard, though, is Broker’s: it is inexpensive, punchy and comes with a little bowler-hat top – what more could one ask for?
10. Hendricks, £27
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