June 10 is World Gin Day, yet another arbitrary, made-up holiday for the spirits industry to push something on consumers. On the other hand, these holidays give you a really good excuse to read through round-ups of different types of liquor and then go out and drink them all. So in that spirit…
There are several different categories of gin; each basically differs based on how it’s distilled and how the flavoring botanicals are added. But at its core, gin is a neutral spirit that’s given life, vigor, and a reason to get in your mouth, first and foremost, because of the flavor of juniper berries. Beyond that, it’s sort of a free-for-all. Gin also happens to be produced in almost every part of the world these days, and has come a long way since the Dutch started using it to treat gout and indigestion back in the 17th century.
So on this World Gin Day, get out there and endorse the concept of globalism by making a martini (go ahead and shake it, those little shards of ice that form on top are like frigid magic crystals), a Martinez, a gin and tonic, or countless other cocktails to which adding vodka would just be a travesty.
1. The Botanist Islay Dry Gin – Scotland
Scotland is better known for its malt whisky, but it’s also the source of some very good gin. In fact, popular London dry style gins like Tanqueray and Gordon’s are distilled in Scotland, as is the uniquely Scottish Hendrick’s Gin. The Botanist is distilled on Islay at the Bruichladdich distillery, and uses 22 different local botanicals that it claims are hand foraged on the island. It’s lightly floral, and always interesting in a cocktail.
2. Caorunn Gin – Scotland
Yes, this is another Scottish gin, but they just make it so damn well there. Caorunn (Gaelic for “rowan berry”) is distilled in the Highlands using a variety of 11 botanicals including, obviously, rowanberry, bog myrtle, and heather. In other words, it couldn’t really be more Scottish. The gin is distilled at the under-the-radar Balmenach Distillery, which produces whisky as well.
3. Four Pillars Gin – Australia
Four Pillars is a relative newcomer on the gin scene, having got its start in 2013. The “four pillars” refers to the bedrock upon which the distillery stands: copper pot stills, water from Australia’s Yarra Valley, local and sourced botanicals, and love (duh). In addition to the Dry Gin, the distillery also makes a Barrel Aged Gin and an annual Christmas Gin that uses Christmas pudding as a botanical and is blended with barrel-aged gin and Muscat.
4. Gin Mare – Spain
Gin Mare is considered to be a Mediterranean gin for good reason. This Spanish spirit is infused with the flavor of olive, thyme, rosemary, and basil, giving it an almost savory mouth feel and making it a perfect match for a dirty martini, if you are so inclined.
5. Dorothy Parker American Gin – USA
It’s really, really difficult to pick just one American gin. There are so many good options, from literally every corner of the country. You could just as easily go with Aviation, Blue Coat, St. George Spirits, Junipero, or Leopold Bros. But let’s stick with Brooklyn-based NY Distilling Company’s Dorothy Parker American Gin. This gin, which was named after the iconic New York critic and writer, is both classic and modern, flavored with juniper, citrus, and cinnamon, among other botanicals.
6. Citadelle Gin – France
Citadelle Gin, a London dry style gin, has been around since the late ‘80s and is distilled by Maison Ferrand, a major cognac producer in France. Bottom line is that it’s a fine gin, with a strong flowery presence from the 19 different botanicals employed to flavor the spirit.
7. Vor Gin – Iceland
Vor is Icelandic for “spring,” which serves as the inspiration for this Arctic-adjacent gin. Vor is made from a 100 percent barley spirit base and flavored with botanicals including Icelandic juniper, rhubarb, kale, and wild picked sweet kelp. The small Eimverk distillery produces the gin, along with a single malt whisky called Floki.
8. Napue Gin – Finland
The Kyro Distllery’s motto is “in rye we trust,” which makes sense considering Finland’s dark rye bread loving ways. Napue Gin is distilled from 100 percent whole grain rye, giving it the slightly spicy and peppery flavor normally associated with rye whiskey. The gin is flavored with sea buckthorn, cranberries, and birch leaves, all foraged locally.
9. Kyoto Dry Gin – Japan
Like Scotland, Japan is better known for its whisky than for gin (not to mention sake), but the Kyoto Distillery is trying to change that perception. Kyoto Dry Gin, bottled in stark, opaque glass, is made from a rice spirit base and flavored with Japanese botanicals like yuzu, hinoki wood chips, bamboo, and gyokuro tea. It sounds like the minds behind this gin are trying to make something truly representative of the Japanese terroir.
10. Wild Botanical Gin – Ireland
You think Ireland, you immediately think Irish whiskey, right? But the Glendalough Distillery is set to release its first gin in the U.S. market, Wild Botanical Gin, this June. The company works with a local forager every season to go out and pick the botanicals for this gin. It’s hard to say exactly what those are, or at the least the distillery doesn’t specify, instead pointing out that the tempestuous Irish weather means that the botanicals are constantly changing. But over all, expect some juniper, citrus, and pine.