Gin anyone? Advice please

I am new to gin but trying to learn as much as possible. I understand that the absolute minimum acceptable quality is Bombay Sapphire and for those who can taste often the micro distilleries have well regarded offerings. Can anyone make any recommendations and why? Also G&T preparation tips would be much appreciated too. Many thanks in advance.
 
I'm not a fan of Bombay Sapphire, Graham, but it least it has something like a classic gin character; I have come to the conclusion that most of the modern pretenders are just silly and exaggerated. To make the classic gin drinks one needs the classic gins. The problem is that one needs them in the full strength export format found at duty free shops around the world. I particularly like Gordon's yellow label, Tanqueray(the domestic form is acceptable, Tanqueray 10 and the orange flavoured one less so) and Beefeater and after extensive investigation feel no need for anything else. If one is going to drink it with tonic then the choice of tonic is the important thing.
For those who wish to spend more Silent Pool is pretty good. By some distance the worst I have tasted are Ophir and the best selling gin of all,San Miguel from the Phillippines, both for different reasons undrinkable.
 
Hi Tom, thanks for replying to my thread. The purpose of taking an interest in gin is (i) the wife likes it and (ii) it seems like a nice basic and popular drink to offer guests [although I will be buying other spirits and attempting cocktails too] upon arrival. I am not crazy keen on gin, but I can see how a g&t can be refreshing, and I will let you know how I get on. I am quite looking forward to the challenge of extending my drinks hosting beyond offering beer, wine, single malt whisky and cognac.
 
Gin's I've tried and enjoyed Graham, mostly Scottish, Edinburgh Gin - very good straight gin without any unusual added flavours, Caorunn - from Speyside very good for both G & T's and Negroni's, Hendrick's - Although I don't eat cucumber it is good for an ice & slice in a G & T quite floral, Sipsmith - again liked this for its straight flavours that haven't been messed around with too much. I like Tanqueray 10 for more widespread availability.

Tonic - Fever Tree is ubiquitous now and definitely fine, either straight tonic or aromatic, Schweppes is actually fine, Fentiman's is also very good with a range of different added flavours if you like
 
To make the classic gin drinks one needs the classic gins. The problem is that one needs them in the full strength export format found at duty free shops around the world. I particularly like Gordon's yellow label, Tanqueray (the domestic form is acceptable, Tanqueray 10 and the orange flavoured one less so) and Beefeater and after extensive investigation feel no need for anything else. If one is going to drink it with tonic then the choice of tonic is the important thing..
This but also have taste for Kyro Napue gin from Finland with as they suggest a few cranberries and a sprig if rosemary. I do not go for the cucumber flavoured gins.
 
I have this evening picked up Tanqueray Ten Export (47.3% ABV) from Costco for c.£22 for 70cl. I am also curious about one gin they stock at Tesco which is The Botanist which is made by Bruichladdich on Islay, however it is priced at £37 / bottle which is a lot for a gin. Has anyone had any experience with The Botanist? I will start looking at tonic in the days and weeks to come as well as extending my gin holdings.
 
I've drunk the The Botanist, Graham, a nice gin which is in no sense worth the premium. Whisky distilleries are beside themselves with glee at the gin boom, not having to leave even their most basic product to age for three years but whacking it out of the door straight away.
If you are interested in cocktails I have recommended David Embury's 'The fine art of mixing drinks' before. I can only say that this is one of the very few unequivocal masterpieces in gastronomic literature, and even if one doesn't like cocktails its laconic humour is unmissable; he certainly agrees with me that tonic water is not the finest destination for gin, though.
 
I agree with Tom on Gordons - the export strength is just the job, but only available duty free.

For me the 'perfect' G and T has plenty of gin, plenty of ice, a good wedge of lime, squeezed and 1.5 tins of your preferred tonic water.

Other excellent gins along the same lines are Four Pillars (Australian), Silent Pool as already mentioned and Bulldog.

For something with a bit more punch then sipsmith VJOP, which is 57% alcohol is superb.

As a departure from the gin and tonic and if you like your citrus flavours I would recommend a gimlet, made with your own lime syrup.

All of the above are quite widely available, except the export strength gordons. It's odd but it makes a huge difference to the flavour!
 
Hi Graham,

Agree with Tom re Bombay Sapphire, an exercise in marketing more than anything gin related for me, the David Embury book and the 47.3% Gordons export, which you'll find here in the UK. The cost might bring a tear to the eye compared to the price at duty free but there it is.

My current default Martini gin is the 46% Berry's No3, Cocchi Americano for the vermouth. Although a couple of recent bottles of the Chase produced "The Ivy Centenary" gin have been very good indeed. Again eye wateringly expensive but gifts so not my concern.

Agree with Chris re the Gimlet, perhaps he'll let you have the details of his patented recipe for the lime syrup!

Finally a couple of excellent recent additions to our cocktail reading library.

3 Ingredient Cocktails by Robert Simonson

Sasha Petraske, Regarding Cocktails with Georgette Moger-Petraske
 
For G&T it seems pretty clear to me that the focus should be on the tonic.

Fevertree light, has no artificial sweetener just <1/2 the amount of sugar and I like it.

Tonic should have just four ingredients: water, citric acid, sugar and quinine. Quinine comes from the bark of the chinchona tree. Bermondsey Tonic Water, which is made by infusing chinchona bark rather than adding a chinchona extract, is a proper tonic. You can if you like make your own. It is worth it.

Flavoured tonics are weird: someone has already selected aromatics to put into your gin so what do you hope to end up with?

For some reason all the Fentiman's drinks seemed to me to taste of ginger, but I haven't tried them for a while so they may have cleaned up the factory.

For gins, I like the Botanist and don't mind paying the extra occasionally because the bottle is beautiful and can be used later. Also Jensen's gins.

Finally gin Mare, which bears little relation to anything traditional, is flavoured with black olive, rosemary, basil and thyme, amongst others. nice with a slice of orange and a sprig of rosemary.
 
Charles characteristically refuses to mention his own highly impressive take on tonic water!
Flavoured tonics are weird: someone has already selected aromatics to put into your gin so what do you hope to end up with?
This encapsulates the curious evolution of the gin and tonic from medicine into a cutting edge festival of botanicals. It seems now that the truest expression should in theory be the little tins that are so ubiquitous and were so useful for train journeys and golf courses until the puritans realised that people were having a good time with insufficient sacrifice so halved the alcohol content transforming them into mere alcopops.
 
Curiously gin and tonic cans along with Stella are the ones I most commonly find when doing my monthly roadside clean-up in the hedgerow by our drive.
 
We've been on a seven year gin (and tonic) exploration, and from what I see there is a clear distinction between those preferring an overtly juniper-led spirit and those with less juniper but more infusion of other ingredients made prominent (e.g. Mediterranean botanicals, Fynbos and Rooibos from South Africa, flavourings of all sorts from fruits and different berries, herbs, flowers, trees and shrubs, and even one with a truffle infusion!).

Having an affinity for juniper-led gin we're consistently coming back to Crossbill, which was originally made in a small batch at a work shed just outside Aviemore, Scotland. It's now based in Glasgow, but the recipe hasn't changed.

We (four hardy souls as a mini tasting panel) tried well over 20 different Scottish and other juniper-led gins and Crossbill deserves its premium. Here's some it has beaten: Tanqueray, Hendricks, Botanist, Arbikie, Shetland Reel, Rock Rose, Gordons, Blackwoods, Eden Mill, The Wine Society High Strength, Greenalls, Cadenhead's High Strength, Strathearn, Darnley's View, Gordon Castle, Wild Island, Edinburgh Gin, Sipsmith, Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Bulldog, Kew Organic, Cotswolds Dry Gin, Manchester Signature, Silent Pool. There are others but off the top of my head this is as good a list as I can muster.

The only one that comes close to Crossbill is Caorunn, or at stretch Hendricks. The latter two are mass manufactured and widely available, but all the same rather good. Botanist is lovely, but premium priced above what I'm willing to pay for it.

Tonic-wise we prefer full fat Schwepps in small cans, not the plastic bottled stuff. More fizz. One of our tasters prefers cucumber (especially with Hendricks) or no fruit at all, whilst the others will take a thin slice of lemon. We all take ice but one of us uses small bits of granite chilled in the freezer rather than ice.

We've tried to get with the vogue of fancy tonics adopting laudable marketing claims (starting with Fever Tree) but they don't end up preferable for our tasting panel. In fact I'll refuse a fever tree as it isn't palatable for me at all, regardless of whether it has been made with hand harvested ingredients / not sweetened / etc. Old fashioned "plastic" tonic is lovely, thanks.
 
Mark, 'Juniper led Gin' should surely be a tautology, the word is merely an an abbreviation of juniper, possibly but not certainly via the Dutch Jenever! I disapprove of the random aromatics of many modern so called gins.
I must try this Crossbill, though I do wonder how much difference one can taste through Schweppes tonic! I accept that I'm in a minority in not feeling that gin is at its best consumed thus. Though a gin and tonic is often welcome I find a Java fizz, which adds the juice of a lime, a vastly superior concoction though one which conceals gin quality still further.
 
I'd like to read some gin tasting notes so as to be clearer about what it is that makes people prefer one to another. It sometimes feels that people (my friends, not writers on this thread) get excited about any flavour simply because it's there. I'm a big G&T drinker but readily accept that a Martini is the correct way to enjoy gin. Though my father's habit of consuming them in batches of 2 can be deleterious. He has also taken to gin and water in preference to tonic which must be a better way to taste the gin, if nothing else.

I was served a Brockmans and Mediterranean tonic with a slice of grapefruit. While being nothing to do with what I would call G&T it was undeniably delicious. Tanquerey Sevilla also works for this purpose, but again, it's not gin as such.
 
I think my enjoyment of gin is because it tastes of juniper....then other aromatics as the support act to tweak some distinctiveness. I inherited the 'juniper-led' phrase from spirits merchants because many of the flavoured gins we've been duped to buy taste a like cocktail mixer. If I don't use this phrase they try to palm me off with all sorts of wacky combinations - the oddest being truffle infused!

My tasting group are fairly old school I know, but that really raw essence of juniper you get when the berry is crushed between your fingers is what we're after. There are really old juniper bushes that grow on the hill opposite our house and I occasionally pick a few to add one crushed berry to the drink. I must admit this is the 'default' for what I think is great G&T. The martini as a concept is lovely, but not up my alley. I've tried, persistently, but failed to enjoy it.

Although Schweppes is derided, and I've been told by many a gin drinker it's the devil's mixer, I still find it's my favourite. Maybe it's the reason I like a heavy pour from a strong gin. One of mine equals a batch of two from Joel's father!
 
On the back of Mark’s enthusiasm for it I have just ordered a Crossbill as an anniversary present for Debbi. Romance live and kicking here:D, she will likely get me a bottle of champagne.
I will try it as prescribed with the Schweppes, though we use Britvic as our default tonic, although it is not easy to find.
Debbi embraces all of the weird trendy Gins and her absolute favourite is Audemus Pink Pepper made by a Brit and Australian who met and produce in Provence.
I am coming to centre on the more traditional bottles Tom favours.
If I need to deviate a bit I have always enjoyed the slightly less harsh Gins from the USA, Junipero from San-Francisco being my choice of them.
 
Only just spotted this. I would recommend a book called "Gin: The Manual" by Dave Broom. I would also recommend exactly the same three gins as Charles above: Botanist, Gin Mare and Jensen's. And as Thom mentioned, Charles has shown that you can make a very fine tonic yourself. In the absence of a "home-made" tonic Fever Tree does a fine job. One very good value gin I have discovered is London Hill. My next step is to explore Sloe Gin. I have a bottle of Plymouth Sloe, but have yet to open it.


About three years ago in NZ we would have had 3 or 4 locally produced gins: now we must have 30 odd. It has certainly exploded.
 
Scapegrace is a very good representative of a fine Gin from NZ.
And whilst mentioning Antipodean gins everything Four Pillars do is brilliant.
Scapegrace used to be Rogue Society, but they had to change their name because of some US outfit. The gold label is a step up from the silver label. Four Pillars is one I keep meaning to try.

One day someone will discover they have run out of original bottle shapes for their new gin. Is there any other product where every producer uses a different shaped bottle?
 
Mindful of this thread, I paid a visit to the duty-free shop at Nice airport. I've long since given up on buying liquor at such places when travelling in the EU, as value simply cannot be found and the disingenuous "duty free saving" etc marketing is highly irritating.

Interestingly, although the red & yellow labelled Gordon's was only 40%, the Tanqueray was 47%, despite looking to all intents and purposes exactly like the 'normal' stuff. I got it home and sure enough, they are different: the UK bought version says (ironically) "Export Strength" and is 43%. The duty free version says "Imported" and is 47%.

I tried both in a martini with my normal method: the merest dash of Noilly Prat is let into a cocktail shaker containing 5 large cubes of ice, then quickly drained. A lidful of gin is tipped in and stirred vigorously for 30-60 seconds, drained into a cocktail glass and a sliver of lemon peel (pith removed) is pinched above the glass and dropped in.

The 47% is clearly superior.

18d79e8f-9dd2-4e89-9351-0d75c496fdd7 by jh8040, on Flickr

Edited to add: didn't realise I had stood the bottles on a case of Arlaud 2015 Burgundy, how fitting!
 
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