Around the world in gin: 12 of the best to drink while travel is out of bounds

Beyond the multitude of British distilleries, gin has gone global with distilleries around the world offering the unique flavours of their far-flung shores, writes Carolyn Boyd

Wednesday 31 March 2021 16:04
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For the colours and flavour of India, 6 O’Clock Gin Romy’s Edition

For a drink that encompasses all the vibrancy of Indian cuisine, this collaboration between celebrated British-Indian chef Romy Gill MBE and 6 O’Clock Gin is a whirl of fresh and aromatic flavours, from the native Indian mango, lime and ginger with the slightest whisper of cardamom and other spices as a backdrop.

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The botanicals are inspired by Romy’s memories of India and though it is ideal as a pre-curry aperitif, and as moreish as your poppadums, its flavours work well if you drink it throughout an Indian meal. The gin launched in summer 2020, but for summer 2021, there’s a new ready-to-drink canned version, ideal for al fresco meet-ups with friends.

£38, 70cl, 40 % ABV 6oclockgin.com

Sip a Majorcan-style martini with Gin Eva La Mallorquina

Let your gin whisk you away vicariously to the olive groves of Majorca thanks to Gin Eva’s La Mallorquina edition, which uses the island’s unique variety of the empeldre olive as part of its distillation. Grown on the centuries-old trees in the Tramuntana Mountains, the olives are picked fresh each October and then distilled with juniper berries and other botanicals that include locally grown citrus fruits in a traditional copper pot still. The brains behind the distillery are Eva Maier, a Catalan oenologist, and Stefan Winterling, a German wine grower, who began distilling Gin Eva back in 2012 and they now produce a variety of different gins. La Mallorquina is the latest and was named World’s Best Signature Botanical Gin in the World Gin Awards 2019. It’s a great addition to your cocktail cabinet if you prefer to imbibe your gins as part of a martini. That said, it also works really well in a G&T, especially for those who eschew sweeter brands of gin; the olive gives it a subtle savoury edge.

£48.99 for 70cl, 45% ABV, masterofmalt.com

A gin from sunny Spain, via Scotland: Valentia gin

As much as it’s beautiful up in Scotland, you can see why the creator of Valentia Gin, Alfonso Zapater, wanted to bring some of the warm sunshine of his native Spain to his new – more temperate – home of Fife. The result is a dose of Valencian sunshine thanks to botanicals that include oranges, lemons and mandarins as well as juniper, angelica, cardamom, thyme, coriander, rosemary. Unusually, as other gins tend to use grain spirit, Zapater’s gin is distilled using spirit from sugar cane grown in the fields near Granada, a tradition that dates back centuries. To mark its double origins, the bottle depicts a heart-shaped combined flag of Spain and Scotland and uses the Latin name for Valencia, Valentia, which means city of the brave. It’s a zesty gin, as refreshing with tonic as it is with cloudy lemonade.

£30.43 for 70cl, 39% ABV, masterofmalt.com

Go to the ends of the earth with New Zealand’s Scapegrace Black Gin

One of the joys of travel is treating your palate to a whole new world of flavours and when it comes to Scapegrace Black Gin, the extraordinary ingredients make it a gin worth going to the ends of the earth for. Thankfully, while New Zealand is off limits, this sensational gin can come to you. Its black-coloured liquid seems alien when your first pour it into your glass, more so when it turns blue and pink on adding tonic. Meanwhile, its botanicals are equally intriguing: there is the mysterious-sounding aronia berry and butterfly pea, as well as the more familiar pineapple, sweet potato and saffron, the latter comes upfront before berries, redcurrant and cut grass shine through.

The distillery is run by two brothers-in-law in New Zealand’s dramatic South Island. Also in their range is the award-winning Premium and Gold Premium Dry Gins. Both will knock your socks off for their zesty and herbal botanicals, but the latter will floor you with its 57% ABV.

Scapegrace Black Gin, 41.6% ABV, £35.95 for 70cl, masterofmalt.com

Step into the Australian rainforest with Brookie’s Gin

Close your eyes, inhale deeply and you could just about be breathing in the Australian rainforest, or at least the flavours that flourish within it. Multi-award-winning Brookie’s Gin incorporates 25 wild and wonderful botanicals, such as finger lime, cinnamon myrtle, river mint, raspberry and macadamia, and the fresh, berry-like gin certainly whisks you away to exotic climes. It works really well in a martini, but a G&T is great too. It’s created at the Cape Byron Distillery not far from Byron Bay, where its creators Pam and Martin Brook have spent 30 years regenerating the rainforest and replanting more than 35,000 trees. Also in their range is a Slow Gin [sic], the distillery’s own take on British sloe gin but made with the Davidson plum, a fruit native to the rainforest there and which brings tones of berry, rose and watermelon.

Brookie’s Gin, £39.95 for 70cl, 46% ABV, masterofmalt.com

For the taste and sophistication of a Michelin-starred French restaurant, Anne-Sophie Pic Gin

Those hankering for the sophisticated surrounds of a top French restaurant should line up a taste of revered chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s signature gin, which has just been released. The chef has chosen flavours that influence her exquisite cuisine at her three-Michelin star restaurant in the town of Valence in the gastronomic hub that is the Rhone Valley, including botanicals such as citrons and Meyer lemons from south-west France, Cubeb pepper and Japanese smoked tea. With just 570 bottles available, it is created in collaboration with her executive head sommelier, Paz Levinson, as well as Audemus Spirits, based in Cognac, where distiller Miko Abouaf has perfected his art using a huge variety of unusual flavours. The resulting gin is a delicate, refined gin to drink with tonic or simply neat over ice.

€49 (£42) for 50cl, 47% ABV, audemus-spirits.com

Soak up the sun of southern Italy, Malfy gins

For a vicarious sip of Italy’s Amalfi Coast, with its abundance of citrus fruit and sunshine, the pink-hued Malfy Gin Rosa is a winner. Made with Sicilian pink grapefruit, which brings its colour, Italian lemons and with a hint of sweet rhubarb and anise, it’s extraordinarily refreshing with tonic and ice and brings a zing even without the suggested slice of citrus garnish. This and their other three gins – original, lemon, blood orange – are made at their distillery near Turin, in an area known for its expertise in winemaking and distilling spirits.

£26.49 for 70cl, 41% ABV, thedrinksbasket.com

Visit a French wine chateau via Salcombe Gin’s Phantom edition

Chateau de Climens near Bordeaux makes some of the world’s best Sauternes dessert wines, and for the sixth edition in their Voyager series, Salcombe Gin has cask-finished their “Phantom” gin for eight months in their French oak barrels. The result is an elegant, refined spirit that embodies those same sweet aromas with hints of honey, apricot and orange blossom. It works as well as an aperitif with tonic as it does drunk neat as a digestif over ice. There are just 3,500 bottles in the series and it’s named – like the others in the Voyager range – after the schooner ships that brought exotic fruits and spices from all over the world into Salcombe’s idyllic harbour in the 19th century.

£75, 50cl. 46% ABV salcombegin.com

For the taste of Southeast Asia try Tarsier Gin

For the sensorial equivalent of strapping on a backpack and taking off around Southeast Asia, pour a measure of the excellent Tarsier Gin which incorporates botanicals of the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. These include calamansi (aka Philippine lime), Thai sweet basil, galangal and red and black Kampot pepper, which together make for a smooth and refreshing G&T, with subtle spice and citrus. Its creators are two friends Sherwin Acebuche and Tim Driver who travelled though Southeast Asia together in 2014 and the gin celebrates the people they met, the places they saw and the flavours they tasted. Since launching the gin in 2017, they have won bronze awards in three international awards, plus they give back by supporting the endangered tarsier monkey population in the Philippines by giving 10 per cent of their profits to conservation projects. The diminutive, wide-eyed primate is depicted on the label, designed by young Filipino artist Juvel Tiu Modayno.

£34.99 for 70cl, 45% ABV, www.tarsierspirit.com

Stride out on the African savannah with Elephant Gin

While the chance of jetting off on safari is a remote possibility right now, at least a glass of Elephant Gin brings you a little closer to the aromas of the South African outback. Some of its 14 botanicals will be new to most gin-sippers: there's the blackcurrant-like buchu leaf, the citrussy baobab, the herbaceous leaf known as Lion's Tail and the aromatic root Devil's Claw. Together with other citrus and floral botanicals, this superb gin brings forward hints of ginger, lavender and pine needles. Distilled in Germany by founders Tessa and Robin Gerlach who were inspired to establish Elephant Gin after their adventures in Africa, they give 15 per cent of profits to elephant conservation charities, which so far has resulted in more than €500,000 worth of donations. As well as their core gin, they also produce a sloe gin, and Elephant Strength Gin at 57% ABV and new this year is their Orange Cocoa Gin edition. Each bottle label is handwritten with the name of an elephant its profits have supported.

£39 for 50cl, 45% ABV, selfridges.com

Host your own hanami with a glass of Roku Gin

The cherry blossom is blooming throughout Britain, and with a glass of Roku Gin and tonic in hand, you could spend at least a few minutes pretending you’re in Japan, especially if you make like the Japanese and lay out a hanami – a blossom-viewing picnic. Roku means “six” in Japanese and those revered cherry trees count for two of the half dozen key botanicals in Roku; sakuru blossom and sakura leaf are included alongside yuzu citrus fruit peel, Sencha and Gyokuro green teas and Sanshō pepper. The flavour, therefore, is extraordinarily fresh and clean. It’s made in the city of Osaka by Suntory whisky, which has been distilling since 1899.

£28.99 for 70cl, 43% ABV, thedrinksbasket.com

Take off around the world with Far Reaches Gin

If a year of being trapped at home has given you the urge to jet off around the world, calling into each continent en route, then Far Reaches gin will hit the spot. With 13 botanicals from around the world, including kumquat from Asia, juniper from Europe, quandong (aka wild peach) from Australia, sarsaparilla berries from the Americas and grains of paradise from Africa, it was created by keen travellers, husband and wife duo Andrew and Emma Whiting. They create small batches in their 500-litre pot still in London, but despite their size, they scooped a gold award from the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2018. The gin is wonderfully smooth with zesty, citrusy notes and great as a G&T and it’s a refreshingly inspired take on a traditional London Dry Gin.

£39.50 for 70cl, 41.3% ABV, philglas-swiggot.com

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