As one of the oldest distilled spirits, gin, the elegant backbone of classic cocktails like the martini, negroni, and gin rickey, has taken on a youthful glow in the new millennium; gone are the days of harsh, one-dimensional gins. Today’s craft distilleries push the boundaries of flavor and experimentation, creating a stunning array of gins with unique botanical profiles. The possibilities seem endless, from floral notes like rose and lavender to citrusy accents like grapefruit and yuzu.
This new direction has led to a ‘ginaissance’ and made gin one hot bottle. Sales across the globe keep growing, driven by the embrace of the highly adaptable spirit by bartenders and mixologists. Worldwide revenue is projected to reach $10.3 billion in 2024, with an annual growth projected rate of 5.35% from 2024-2028, according to a recent report from Statistica.
That is fantastic news for drinkers as new products and brands flow into the market, especially in the premium and super-premium categories. While the United Kingdom still rules supreme in gin making, many new regions also garner attention for their gins. Australia, India, Germany, Japan, and the United States are all creating exciting new products.
There lies the problem; trying to find the ‘best’ bottle can seem impossible in a category that’s only getting more crowded yearly. To save you time and your wallet some pain, we have turned to the experts behind some of the most significant international spirits competitions to see who they crowned the best gin of 2023, much like we recently did for bourbon, rum, and tequila. If they can’t get it right, then who can? Here are five fantastic bottles that will highlight the beauty of modern gin.
Peter In Florence London Dry Gin
At first glance, Peter in Florence London Dry Gin seems a bit strange. Made in a micro-distillery in Italy, located just outside of Florence, on a small farm in the heart of Tuscany, it seems out of place on the world’s gin stage. But then you taste it, and you understand why it was not only named the Gin of the Year but also the overall Spirit of the Year at the Bartender Spirits Awards, earning 99 out of 100 points.
Made using the same local juniper sourced for many mega-brands, Hendricks and Bombay are but a few; it is harvested fresh for every batch of their gin. That juniper is then mixed with thirteen other botanicals, eleven that grow on the farm’s grounds, to create a gin that is clean, elegant, and flavorful. It is perfect on the rocks or mixed into a favorite cocktail.
Downpour Scottish Dry Gin
If there is any one group of individuals that should know what great gin it is, it would be the British. Gin has been made in Britain since the early 1700s, and the world’s most recognizable brands are from there. So, when the London Spirits Awards awarded Downpour Scottish Dry Gin both The Best Gin and The Best Spirit Award with 98 of 100 points you know that something good is in the bottle.
Made on the tiny island of Benecula, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, a spot one would expect a scotch whisky to emerge from, Downpour is a prime example of the new breed of gin makers. Made by the husband and wife duo of Jonny Ingledew and Kate MacDonald in their state-of-the-art distillery, it’s brimming with citrus, spice, and heather flavors. Here is what the judges had to say about it. “London dry gin with juniper, citrus, and spice on the nose and palate with well-rounded and rich texture with hints of cardamom and licorice towards the end.”
Ginny Pig Distillery Botanic Gin
Ginny Pig Botanic Gin has possibly the most offbeat birth story ever for an award-winning spirit. Created by a husband and wife duo in their spare time on a tiny still in their garage in Adelaide, Australia, it was born out of the desire to create a gin that mirrored the spicy notes of the classic Easter dish, the hot cross bun. Well, they did something right since their gin won the Best Of Class Overall Gin title at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards, an event considered the Oscars of the spirit world.
By being named the best gin over a whopping 577 entries, the second largest category at the event, the team at Ginny Pig proved that they know what they are doing. Loaded with juniper, lemon myrtle, rosemary, and elderflower flavors, it has a sweet flavor that lingers with a slightly spicy ending. It would work perfectly in various cocktails, from a Dirty Martini to a Singapore Sling.
Tipplemill London Dry Gin
Most brands can only dream of being named the Best Overall Gin at an event as prestigious as the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. Yet, Tipplemill achieved that accolade in its first year of production. Crafted on a fifth-generation family farm on Britain’s north central coast, this gin is made from homegrown wheat that is ground between two ancient millstones driven by the U.K.’s oldest operational windmill.
Those grains are fed into a traditional copper pot filled with local water and a blend of ten botanicals. The result is a beautiful gin that perfectly exhibits the traits looked for in a classic London Dry gin. It is light-bodied, highly aromatic, and painfully dry.
Four Pillars Distillery Bloody Underhill Vineyard Shiraz Gin
For over five centuries, the International Wine & Spirits Competition has been bestowing honors to the best of the best. So, when a brand consistently keeps being called out by the event, something special is happening. That is the case with Four Pillars Distillery in Australia. In its first decade, it has taken home the International Gin Producer Trophy three times, including last year.
The brand is a poster child for the new gin-making era as its distillers continually push the envelope on innovation and collaboration, often with other distillers and winemakers. Their latest, the colorfully named Bloody Underhill Vineyard Shiraz Gin, won Double Gold at the event. It sees them taking their original Rare Dry Gin, steeping it with local Shiraz grapes, and then barrel aging it. The judges at the event were wowed, and this is what they had to say about it.
“A lusciously bold expressive gin supported by an unyielding backbone of rippling Shiraz. Radiant on the palate with wonderful flavors of smooth vanilla, spiced fruit, white pepper, and a deep pool of cool eucalyptus on a gorgeously herbaceous finish.”