10 best gins to try in 2020 from Sipsmith to Roku

·7-min read

While once upon a time, the famously English tipple of gin may have evoked quirky images of the Queen drinking from china teacups, in the last decade the spirit has undergone some serious evolution, with a boom in new distilleries opening up throughout the UK and beyond, bringing in a host of new styles from craft to commercial, and everything in between.

All gin must contain juniper - sharp, spicy little berries that grow amongst pine shrubs and provide the spirit with its signature pine-citrus freshness - but recent years have seen an explosion of styles, from reigniting the classic juniper-lead recipes, to more experimental, small-batched and even barrel-aged bottlings. Some champion a small handful of botanicals, while others blend in up to twenty or even more alongside herbs and spices - each distillery carefully selects their recipe based on seasonality or style. From Japanese sakura blossom to hand-dived sea kelp from the cool waters off Scotland, there’s never been so much choice for the ginthusiast (sorry).

But how to choose? From the classic to the unusual, we’ve got just the tonic...

Roku Gin - Japan

‘The Japanese Craft Gin’, from the legendary Suntory distillery, home of the famous Yamazaki and Hibiki whiskies, creates an outstanding gin that’s striking for its balance and delicacy. ‘Roku’ translates as the number six in Japanese, relating to the six Japanese botanicals in the blend, including cherry blossom, green tea, yuzu and sansho pepper, which bring floral, sweet, citrus notes to the classic gin botanicals like juniper, angelica and orange peel, for a gin that’s nicely complex and never overpowering.

£29.90 | Master of Malt

Also available on Amazon (£25)

Sipsmith London Dry Gin - England

The traditional London Dry style that brings juniper straight to the front and centre, Sipsmith is THE quintessential gin for a classic G&T, where sweet botanicals are perfectly poised with orange, orris, liquorice and angelica among others, to fill the glass with crisp, palate-cleansing notes that are all at once sweet, floral, sophisticated and savoury. From pioneering the gin revival over a decade ago, Sipsmith is now known and loved by bartenders and gin fans all over the world, for a reason. One to rely one if you need to please a crowd.

£25 | Majestic

Also available on Amazon (£22.50)

East London Liquor Company Premium Gin - England

Craft distiller based in the heart of London’s East End, E.LL.C. has long been a favourite among drinks aficionados and local Londers alike. With one signature house gin and two premium small batch gins, the reputation is rising steadily across the country, so they’re no longer a local secret. Premium Gin Batch 1 is a juniper-forward style blending coriander seeds, cassia bark, and angelica root with pink grapefruit peel, cubeb berries and, most interestingly, Darjeeling tea for an elegant style that really comes into its own in a dry martini.

£32.95 | Amazon

The Botanist Islay Dry Gin - Scotland

A gin with layers and layers of complexity thanks to nine traditional botanicals and no fewer than twenty-two local herbs and flowers, foraged from the wilds of the local land: the Hebridean island of Islay. Famous for peaty whiskies and with no small reputation for gin, this remote Scottish island is home to the Bruichladdich distillery, where The Botanist is hand-crafted in small batches via a type of still christened the ‘Ugly Betty’, giving it a truly unique style. Chamomile, thistle flower, elderflowers, lemon balm and thyme leaves are just some of the flavours that join the lineup of berries, barks and peels for noticeably complex, florals balanced with herbaceous notes for a clean, smooth finish. Garnish with rosemary to enhance the freshness.

£31.45 | The Whisky Exchange

Amazon (£31.45)

Hernö Gin London Dry - Sweden

In just a few short years a handful of gin distilleries have popped up in Sweden, with one scooping awards so consistently that it’s become the most awarded gin in Europe - no small feat! Hernö Gin is distilled in the century-old small village of Dala on the east coast of Sweden, where the surrounding purity of unspoiled nature is the greatest inspiration. Harnessing that purity, Hernö is made with natural and organic botanicals including locally grown Swedish lingonberries and meadowsweet alongside the usual suspects of juniper, cassia bark and lemon zest, for fresh pine notes, a soft, lingering sweetness and a smooth finish.

£29.75| Master of Malt

Kyrö Koskue Aged Gin - Finland

The tiny Kyrö Distillery in Isokyrö, Finland crafts rye drinks with “wild ideas in mind”, leading them to make some world-renowned gins, the most interesting of which is arguably their barrel-aged rye gin. A blend of wholegrain rye together with a blend of 17 spices and botanicals including cranberry, birch and orange peel is matured in small oak barrels for between three and twelve months, imparting a deliciously smoky character to the rich and rounded gin, for an out-of-the-ordinary offering that is as interesting to sip neat as it is to mix. Try it with cloudy apple juice for something completely different.

£35.25 | Master of Malt

The Kyoto Distillery KI NO BI Kyoto Dry Gin - Japan

Using local, hand-sourced ingredients from farms in Kyoto Prefecture, The Kyoto Distillery has won numerous awards for its flagship KI NO BI gin as well as a number of innovative limited bottlings (some of the most sought after on the market, thank you very much) including Champagne cask-aged gin. Head distiller Alex Davies is inspired by the harmony of Kyoto, with KI NO BI representing ‘the Beauty of the Seasons’. Created with distinctly Japanese botanicals like Shiso, green tea, and yuzu, it blends the warmth and spice of juniper with the delicacy of local flavours, and the result is really delicious.

£39.95 | Master of Malt

Isle of Harris Gin - Scotland

Situated somewhat romantically on the outer Hebrides, Harris Distillery captures the maritime climate of the rugged northern Scottish islands, bottled with sugar kelp that is hand-harvested from the sea by local divers, sustainably and with careful consideration to the land. Sweet-saline notes of the sugar kelp join signature juniper alongside a small selection of botanicals and spices, and together, subtle spice, warmth and floral notes come through with a lovely smooth finish. All of this comes in a strikingly beautiful bottle where the design reflects the elements of the island, making this one that will stand out on any home bar shelf.

£37 | Isle of Harris Gin

Seedlip Spice 94 (Non-Alcoholic) - England

Sometimes you want to enjoy the occasion of a G&T; something cool, crisp and not-too-sweet, at the end of the work day or as an evening sundowner, but you just don’t want the alcohol. Seedlip is a uniquely forward-thinking drink - distilled just like a spirit for those signature layers of complexity, but completely booze-free. Spice 94 is a satisfying blend of aromatic berries and cardamom with two barks and a bright citrus finish, and although it doesn’t actually contain any juniper (and therefore sits just outside the gin category, regardless of alcohol) it hits the spot just nicely. Serve long with lots of ice, a good quality tonic and a wedge of grapefruit or orange for a refreshingly adult alternative to non-alcoholic options.

£18| Amazon

Malfy Gin Rosa - Italy

This blush-pink grapefruit flavoured gin comes from a family-owned distillery established all the way back in 1906, meaning there are generations of practice in perfecting the recipe. Made with ingredients that thrive in the local area, from famously aromatic Sicilean grapefruit - the staple of any italian fruit stand - to lemons grown along the sun-soaked Amalfi coast, mouth watering flavours of grapefruit, a light hint of rhubarb and a rich long juniper finish will leave you feeling utterly transported. Ideal for summer sipping, preferably somewhere that resembles an Italian piazza.

£28 | Sainsbury's

Also available on Amazon (£25)

Verdict:

For a gin that offers the best balance between complexity and drinkability, is delicious served simply in a G&T but also has enough character to hold its own in a cocktail, AND comes in at an affordable price point, Roku gin ticks all the boxes. We’re not saying we were also swayed by the design-lead bottle, but if you do spot in on our bar at home, don’t be surprised...

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