Whiskey might usually be the go-to tipple for many spirits fans, but gin also deserves careful consideration. This is especially true when thinking about cocktails, since this historic spirit plays a starring role in so many from the Martini to the Gin and Tonic to the Negroni and well beyond into the world of modern mixology. London dry is probably the best known style of gin, given that some of the biggest brands fall into this category—Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, and Gordon’s, to name a few. This classification doesn’t mean the gin has to be made in London, however, just that nothing can be added after distillation (except for water and a small amount of sugar), among a few other technical points.
The tie that binds all gin together is that juniper must be the main botanical used for flavoring, but from there distilleries are free to indulge their floral fantasies. This is particularly true in America, where many craft distilleries are making gin that falls into the unofficial “New Western” category. For this style, juniper is still the main ingredient, but regional botanicals that really define the spirit come to the forefront of the palate like locally grown herbs and spices. Of course, the aforementioned British classics are all excellent choices, but for this list we are focusing on some newer brands that bring a unique view to this crowded field. Here are seven European and American gins that you should try now. After all, spring and summer are prime seasons for the spirit.
High Goal Luxury Gin
This new gin from South Carolina is being marketed as a “luxury American gin,” something you don’t see a whole lot of in the category. High Goal’s image is preppy AF, with co-founder and American polo player Nic Roldan onboard, along with Grain & Barrel Spirits CEO Matti Christian Anttila and co-founder Diego Urrutia. The gin itself is produced in Charleston from a base corn spirit that’s distilled six times and macerated with botanicals including Meyer lemon, mint, juniper, coriander and cardamom. It’s a relatively small batch process, with 3,000 bottles produced at a time. There’s a healthy dose of sweetness and anise at the forefront of the palate, followed by a bit of spice that concludes the finish.
Salcombe Rosé Sainte Marie
There are various pink gins to choose from these days, but one of the newest (and best) comes from Devon, England’s Salcombe Distilling. There are no added colors, flavors or sugar here; instead, the pink hue comes from unsweetened red fruits, according to the distillery. Macedonian juniper berries are the backbone of this spirit, with supporting roles played by strawberry, lemon verbena, rose petals, orange blossom and pink peppercorns. This is an elegant gin that has a pleasant dryness on the palate and tastes great mixed into drinks or even sipped neat or over some ice.
Highclere Castle Gin
If the thought of gin conjures up images of afternoon cocktails at posh estates in the rolling English countryside, Highclere Castle is the bottle for you. The botanicals for this gin, created by spirits entrepreneur Adam von Gootkin and the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, are grown on the estate of this historic manor. These include juniper, lime flower, orange peel, lavender and even some oats for mouthfeel, all of which combine into a floral and zesty spirit that works well in any drink. The gin is distilled at Langley Distillery, one of England’s oldest working distilleries.
Grace O’Malley Heather Infused Gin
Irish gin might not be as well known as Irish whiskey outside of its home country, but there are some outstanding bottles worth seeking out. This new release comes from Grace O’Malley Spirits and is made using 14 botanicals that are native to Ireland. As you can tell from the name, heather is one of the most prominent in the recipe here, but there is also thyme, red clover, rock samphire, wild blueberries and fraughan (also known as bilberry). The resulting gin, distilled at Ireland’s Great Northern Distillery, is herbal and fresh with some grassy notes on the palate.
Freeland Dry Gin
Freeland Spirits is a women-owned and operated distillery located in Portland, Oregon. The first gin was released back in 2017, but now there’s a new London dry, navy-strength version available as well. According to the distillery, juniper leads the flavor charge here, followed by notes of pine forest, mulled spices, green olive and just a bit of citrus. The best thing about this gin is its high proof, which at 57% ABV makes it stand up to being used in any cocktail you choose. Or if you have just had a long day and need an assertive Martini that kind of tastes like the forest to take the edge off, this is the bottle for you.
Citadelle Jardin d’été Gin
This is a new gin from Citadelle, a French brand created by Maison Ferrand owner Alexandre Gabriel. He uses what he calls a progressive infusion process, essentially infusing each botanical in a particular order to truly capture their essence. Jardin d’été differs from the original in the botanicals that are used, which are said to have been inspired by Gabriel’s wife Debbie’s garden. In addition to the original 19 botanicals, Charentais melon flesh, whole lemon (as opposed to just lemon peel), yuzu zest and even more orange peel are added to flavor this gin. This is a fruity summertime sipper, with big lemon and orange notes that mingle with the juniper and spice flavors anchoring the palate.
Hendrick’s Lunar Gin
Hendrick’s has made a name as being a modern outlier gin, with flavors of rose and cucumber defining this Scottish spirit that is beloved by gin fans around the world. The brand has released a few new expressions over the years, the latest of which is called Lunar. This limited-edition spirit is flavored by botanicals that “flourish below the light of the moon,” according to the distillery. Exactly what those are is unclear, but the palate is definitely floral, with zesty citrus, some spice and of course a soft backbone of juniper underlying it all. If you’re looking for a dry gin, this is not it, but it does work very well with some tonic or in cocktails with a fruit component.