In an attempt to stop the multitude of bootlegged gin operations, the Gin Act of 1751 outlawed small gin distilleries in London. This law remained in place until 2008 and in 2009 Sam Galsworthy launched Sipsmith, the first gin distillery to open in London since 1820. Since 2009, according to the Office for National Statistics, UK manufacturers’ sales of gin have increased 267% from £130 million to £461 million (2017). The number of new gins is astonishing, with numerous new brand launches every year. Here is a selection of some of the best new gins, both British made or new to the UK market.
1.Terlingham Vineyard’s Bacchus Gin
Terlingham is a family-run vineyard near Folkestone on the south east coast of England. They’ve been producing artisan English wines for the past decade and this year, they’ve launched their first gin. Bacchus Dry Gin uses their award-winning Bacchus wine as the “magic ingredient.” This small batch gin was made with Rebel Distillers, who have helped select the botanicals. The classic dry gin uses traditional juniper, with some locally found botanicals including rhubarb and nettle, collected by hand in Folkestone. The Bacchus wine gives it a delicate sweetness, with notes of elderflower.
2. Cantium Gin
Cantium Gin made in “the garden of England,” Kent features botanicals from the local surroundings, including blackberry, apple, cobnut, hops, lavender and roasted chestnuts. Available in two varieties, the classic “Primo” London Dry Gin and the “Rubesco” pink gin, which is enhanced with strawberries and raspberries for a slightly sweeter flavour and pretty pink hue. As impressive as the taste is the sustainable packaging: the world’s first reusable gin flask, keeping drinks hot or cold for hours.
3. Little Bird
Little Bird launched this year after the London founders tasted and tested over 40 recipes to reach the perfect balance of citrus with a smooth finish. Handcrafted in micro-batches, Little Bird’s blend of pink grapefruit, sweet orange peel and ginger brings crisp citrus notes while seven more botanicals add to its fresh flavor. The gin is London Dry style, meaning no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners are allowed before or after distillation – and it’s vegan too.
Distilled in the Charente region of France, Santa Ana Gin launched in the UK in March 2022. Santa Ana is inspired by the dancehall days of 1920s Manila and uses four native Philippine botanicals: Ylang Ylang, Alpinia, Calamansi and Dalandan. Santa Ana’s combination of delicate floral top notes and a fresh tropical citrus palate complements the seven traditional botanicals (including Juniper, Bitter Orange, Angelica and Orris Roots, Fennel) used in the gin, to create a richly exotic taste profile. The Philippines, as one of the worlds’ biodiversity hot spots, has a range of flora and fauna quite unique in the world, including Santa Ana’s signature botanical Ylang-Ylang, also used as the main ingredient in luxury perfumes such as the iconic Chanel No. 5.
Founded by established restaurateurs husband and wife team Sam and Alex Berry, the Bone Idyll Distillery and Bar in Kingston Upon Thames offers small batch spirits and cocktails. Their debut collection features three gin blends: a Barrel Aged gin with a woody and smoky taste; a Blushing Pink gin, with a glint of sweetness and pink pepper spice. And finally, a London Bone Dry gin with citrus and spicy undertones including grapefruit peel, cardamom, orris, coriander seed, juniper and lemon peel.
Housed in an 18th century threshing barn just outside Henley-on-Thames, this distillery is headed by one of the youngest Master Distillers in the country, Jacob Wilson, who meticulously selects the botanical extracts and essential oils to create high quality, artisan spirits. Jacob has created the first three editions of Henley Gin: Classic Dry, Rhubarb and Orange, and Oriental Spiced. Already winning awards, Henley was voted “Best New Distillery” at The Gin Guide Awards 2022.
Citadelle gin, the world’s most awarded gin, has just launched a limited-edition: Citadelle Vive le Cornichon (yes this is a pickle-infused gin). Citadelle is the original “Gin de France,” created at the the Château de Bonbonnet in Cognac, distilled in copper cognac stills using juniper grown in the grounds of the estate. Vive le Cornichon Gin features the cornichon pickle. The cornichons infused in Citadelle Original’s aromatic base come from Maison Marc, well known to foodies and fans of French terroirs.
A unique British-Brazilian recipe of juniper, coriander, cardamon, allspice and lime peel perfectly complements a sugar cane base, delivering sweet juniper with a citrus finish. Handcrafted organic London Dry meets Brazil with small batch infusions of Hibiscus, Cranberry and Blueberry. These newly launched gins are made from 100% natural ingredients and use sustainable distillation methods.
9.Shirl the Pearl from Cape Byron Distillery
Shirl the Pearl began as a limited-edition seasonal Cumquat Gin that paid homage to the brand owner, Eddie’s, grandmother Shirley. Adventurer, skier, and one of Australia’s first female pilots, Shirl also made a mean bootleg Cumquat Gin. They steep locally grown Cumquats in their Brookie’s Dry Gin for several months and balance the spirit to create this unique gin. Made near Byron Bay, Australia, the Shirl the Pearl 2021 harvest has fresh uplifting notes, zesty characteristics, and a long finish. Expect refreshing waves of orange blossom.