Happily for those of us who consider this spirit to be one of their favourite tipples, gin-filled advent calendars are catching on.
It seems that the majority of manufacturers have upped the quality of their offerings this year too, with a spectacular range of gins. From lesser-known British brands which might just offer your new favourite tipple to limited edition varieties created by some of the world’s largest distillers, or gins from Japan, South America and Spain. There should be something for everyone.
Most manufacturers will list the contents on the back of their advent calendars or on their website (we’re firm believers in the fact that this spoils the surprise, but sometimes it’s good to know what you’ve got in store), although we’d recommend looking beyond the gin itself.
Are you the type of person who typically only realises they’ve run out of mixer when they’re craving a gin? Opt for a calendar which comes with mixers, often in a huge range of delicious flavours. Is the calendar being purchased as a gift for someone? Take a moment to think about packaging – if it’s a present, you’ll want to maximise the chances of the bottles staying in one place, which isn’t always easy given the sheer amount of liquid contained in the average alcohol-based advent calendar.
Finally, bear in mind that not all of these advent calendars have 24 doors (although rather impressively, one in our selection has 25). So if you’re an old-school advent calendar fan with a firm belief that there should be one door to open every day in the run up to Christmas, make sure you think about the number of compartments.
We’ll admit it – we’re relative newcomers to the world of gin. On the plus side, our love affair with the spirit started around three years ago after a tour of a Cotswolds distillery, and since then we’ve thrown ourselves wholeheartedly into the world of gin, visiting various distilleries, attending workshops and generally making it our mission to learn everything we can about this versatile drink. In other words, when it comes to gin, we know our stuff.
However, when it came to these gin advent calendars, we considered factors beyond the quality of the gin itself, such as packaging, the range of gins included and the overall design, because nobody wants a gin advent calendar which resembles a reject from Santa’s workshop.
We absolutely loved the look of this calendar’s gin bottles – squat glass bottles sealed with wax. There are 24 gins from different producers, with plenty of unusual flavours, including a heavenly Jaffa cake-flavoured version. There’s also plenty for the gin connoisseur, whether it’s the Yuzu dry London gin or the offerings from Cornish craft producer Tarquin’s. We also loved the box, which was understated but still festive, and featured a supersized gold star and sprigs of pine.
This, dear readers, is proof that not all gin calendars are created equal. We were absolutely blown away by the design, whether it was the fact that it features 25 doors (24 is very much the norm when it comes to alcohol-themed advent calendars) or the way the two sides of the box open up to reveal the individual doors.
If you’ve purchased this calendar before, you’ll be pleased to know all of the gins are brand new for this year, produced by a range of distilleries, including several craft ones – our favourite was the gin produced by Cornish craft distiller Tarquin’s. Add in three festive cocktail menus on the box (we recommend the Claus-mopolitan) and suggestions for garnishes and mixers, and this might just be the advent calendar of our dreams.
This calendar is packed with quirky tipples – special shout-outs should go to the deep spice gin from Original Stormtrooper Spirits – and while there are plenty of winter warmers in this calendar, there are some fantastic tipples to indulge in throughout the year, too. Bombay Sapphire’s Bombay bramble, infused with blackberry and raspberry, screams summertime sipping to us.
As much as we love calendars with bottles of the same shape and size, there’s something very cool about the wide range of styles of bottles found here. Whether it’s the instantly recognisable angles of the Bombay Sapphire miniature, or the chunky weightiness of Ginovation’s lemon drizzle cake-flavoured gin (which, by the way, is delicious) we loved the lot. The winter scene-adorned packaging was suitably sturdy too, and all the bottles stayed perfectly in place.
We absolutely loved the design of this calendar, which has a minimalist feel, with an outer cardboard layer bearing ivy-green stripes. What lies beneath is where it gets truly spectacular, however. Inside the box are 12 bottles of gin (35ml each), all in the same cute metal bottles, and perfectly displayed in a moulded plastic holder. Alongside some seriously festive flavours – including a wonderful orange peel, pumpkin and nutmeg gin – there were plenty of gins suitable for sipping at any time of the year (the elderflower, chamomile and marigold is a great example). All of the gins are produced by a distiller in the Cotswolds, a region quickly becoming known for its fantastic gins.
There’s nothing worse than pouring yourself a nice gin, only to discover that you’ve got no tonic. That’s why we love the fact this calendar contains mixers, too – more specifically, a mixer chosen specifically to suit the gins behind each beautifully decorated door. The mixers are incredibly diverse, and we’ll admit we were sceptical about the thought of the Spanish clementine tonic initially, but are now total converts.
As for the gins? Fever Tree has teamed up with a wide range of distillers, including gin behemoths such as Sipsmith and Hayman’s, but there are plenty of smaller, craft producers, too. You will find everything from classic London drys to more unusual offerings, such as the fabulously festive pink pepper and sloe gin.
You’ll get a whole lotta bottle with this calendar – more specifically, 24 fantastic gins from a brilliant section of distillers. We also loved the focus on seasonal flavours, which includes elderberry, mulberry and a Christmas cake gin (sounds weird, but trust us, it works). This wide range of flavours gives the contents serious longevity – if you’re not planning on drinking a gin and tonic a day in the run up to Christmas (and to be clear, we’re not judging you if you are), the abundance of summer-friendly infusions means you can stash some away for those long summer nights.
All too many booze-based advent calendars rely on an abundance of plastic to keep the contents in place, but this one is entirely plastic-free – opening this calendar, we found that every one of the bottles had stayed behind its relevant door. The 24 wax-sealed bottles don’t just cover a brilliant selection of flavours but types of gin, too, which means it provides a brilliant opportunity to sample something new. We weren’t that familiar with port-barrelled gin, for example, but now we’re total converts.
The packaging was on point, too – a sturdy cardboard box adorned with an image of a beautiful townhouse on a winter’s day, complete with illustrations of windows through which various festive scenarios can be seen.
Another calendar with a simple but sleek design – in this case, a black-and-white image of snow-dusted townhouses – this premium gin advent calendar is exactly that. There are 24 wax-sealed bottles sourced from producers around the world, and the unusual (but consistently delicious) varieties will certainly take the dullness out of December. Highlights include the Roku Japanese craft gin, the Bluecoat American dry gin and the Puerto de Indias blackberry gin – all versions which you’re unlikely to stumble across in your average off-license, but which are guaranteed to broaden your gin-related horizons.
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