Shrine to Spirits: Main Vodka Rum Whiskey Liqueurs Gin Brandy Mezcal Chiew and Soju Other Non-beverages Index


The Art that is Gin

Gin is a flavoured white spirit. All gin is flavoured with juniper berries, and usually other things too, like lemon, coriander seeds, and so on. Unlike liqueurs, where flavourings are added to the distilled spirits, gin is made by re-distilling the spirit with the flavourings, either with the flavouring ingredients in the still, or by passing the vapour through the flavouring agents during distillation. The name comes from genievre, French for juniper.

There are two main styles of gin: English gin/dry gin/London gin/London dry gin and Dutch gin/sweet gin. The best London dry gin we've tried is Bombay Sapphire, with Tanqueray a close second.

And the list:

Beefeater London Distilled Dry Gin: 50 ml bottle
One of the Three Great Gins of the World. This is a powerful full-bodied gin; all the aspects of Gin are a little bit stronger in Beefeater, so you can taste all its quality. It's drinkable straight, and a great mixer, and makes quite satisfying G&Ts. Timo: ``A lot of people regard this gin very highly, so it might have something going for it, but I was not impressed. However, it is definitely a good mixer. Also, it makes a truly excellent salad dressing (read the recipe).'' 40% alcohol.
T ** J ****

Bokma Jonge Graanjenever: 1000 ml bottle
A Dutch gin, with a "unique taste and character" says the label. An excellent gin for hard drinking, with a rather mild flavour, and only 35% alcohol, so you can slug it back all day long. It might, however, cause rather vicious hangovers, so do this with care. Pleasant and eminently drinkable, but falls short of, say, Bols V.O. Genever.
T ***

Bols V.O. Genever Gin: 750 ml pottery bottle
This Dutch gin is smooth-bodied, sweet and flavourful. Lacks the sharpness of London dry gins, but makes up for it with a nice rounded flavour. On a par with gins such as Tanqueray, though in a different style. Bottled in a "distinctive stone crock" (i.e. a pottery bottle).
T **** G *

Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin: 700 ml bottle
The second of the Three Great Gins of the World, this is often described as the world's best. It might even be true. Was one of the first big-name gins to have a big mix of flavourings (ie botanicals - see the list), 10 in this case, which all combine to give this gin a special taste. Tasty, elegant, smooth and lovely. Glen claims the term ``quality gin'' is a contradiction in terms.
T ***** J **** G **

De Kuyper Genièvre/Geneva:
Dutch gin, by De Kuyper Canada. Strong and somewhat unpleasant aroma hits first, this also has a strong flavour, very much so for a Dutch gin. One could conceivably acquire a taste for this, and it seems that many of the people in Québec have. Once accustomed to it, it goes down without too much trouble, but getting to that point is a bit of a chore. 40% alcohol. Jocelyn says: ``It is true that people in Québec like this kind of liquor. As a Québecer, I just can't understand why! I tell you, the first (and only) time that I tasted this, I almost threw up. Simply awful.''
T ** J *

Gilbey's London Dry Gin: 50 ml bottle
Very strongly flavoured, and reasonably smooth. This one is a bit strong to drink straight, but tastes like an excellent mixer, especially if you don't want to use much gin in your drinks.
T ***

Gordon's London Dry Gin: 50 ml bottle
A very strongly flavoured gin, I think this is too much so for pleasant sipping. On the other hand, this means it should make very tasty G&Ts. This is a good solid mixing gin.
T ** J **

London Hill Gin:
Pleasant, smooth, and very mild, too mild to mix. Tastes almost like it's pre-mixed with tonic. It mightn't be too impressive at first taste, but this sly little number will sneak up on you. Drink it straight. 37.2% alcohol, bottled in a pretty green jacket pocket sized bottle.
T ***

McGuiness Marble Arch London Dry:
A Canadian gin (that I tried in Sweden, purchased in Africa). Nice aroma, fairly one-dimensional mild flavour. Not bad at all, hard to fault, though quiet and modest rather than particularly memorable. Very smooth and tasty. 40% alcohol.
T **** Arne ****

Plymouth Original English Dry Gin: 50 ml bottle
This one has a nice flavour to it. It tastes like it might have some dedicated fans out there. Pleasantly drinkable, and quite smooth.
T ***

Raffles London Dry Gin:
Strongly-flavoured, but not overly so. Very multi-dimensional, with ``a unique selection of over a dozen botanicals.'' Tasty, and well-balanced, it's in the Bombay Sapphire style, but cheaper. Slightly oily and viscous. 37.5% alcohol.
T ****

Seagram's London Dry Gin: 750 ml bottle
A basic cheap gin, OK for G&Ts, but I'd opt for a better product to drink straight. Glen says it is gin, therefore it is bad.
T ** G *

Tanqueray: 700 ml bottle
The second of the Three Great Gins of the World, this is the smoothest gin we've ever tried, perhaps the smoothest in the whole world; you could drink this all day long. Good flavour, but lacking in complexity. Tanqueray have a newer gin, Tanqueray Malacca, for those who prefer the multi-layered flavour of gins such as Bombay Sapphire.
T **** J ****