When it comes to the major spirit categories — whiskey, rum, vodka, tequila, brandy, gin — gin more often than not (along with vodka, depending on where you are) receives the least amount of praise as a sipping spirit. And while whiskey and brandy usually come out on top, aged rums and tequilas are now getting recognition for their sippability.
Despite the craft cocktail revolution getting more people to dip their toes in the gin pool, many still can’t handle certain gin-forward drinks. Make no mistake, no one’s telling you to drink a cocktail gin by itself; leave that to the professionals and Ernest Hemingway. But the world of gin is just so much more than cool, cutting juniper and you owe it to your taste buds to do some exploring. In hopes of appreciating gin in its full glory, we have compiled the best ones you can drink straight.
While gin is neglected, aged gins are often flat out ignored. This American gin sits in oak barrels for three months before it is bottled. The resulting amber libation adds notes of vanilla to the standard gin profile and a pleasant burn caps off the entire experience.
Made in the Black Forest of Germany, Monkey 47 utilizes, if you couldn’t tell, 47 different botanicals in its gin blend. Balanced across the board, the gin features acacia flowers, lingonberries, angelica root, six types of peppers, and much, much more. No matter what you’re looking for in a gin, you’re bound to find it here.
This small-batch gin tastes like a cocktail straight out of the bottle. With 21 botanicals from across the world, each sip of McQueen and the Violet Fog Gin has a vibrant story to tell. From sweetness to heat to herbaceous notes that veer towards culinary savoriness (instead of the vague presence of lawn clippings some botanical-heavy gins offer), this flavor profile will turn you into a gin lover.
Mellow enough to do what it needs to do in a cocktail, The Botanist is also complex enough to enjoy neat or on the rocks. In the Islay region of Scotland, 22 botanicals are foraged to yield a floral gin with a bit of a kick. It makes sense that Scotch country would produce a gin with personality.
For people who have a tough time with any gin, Barr Hill is a warm introduction. Distilled with raw honey in Vermont, this gin is a little more viscous and the sweetness takes the edge off of the more potent botanicals.
Hendrick’s will be the easiest gin to find from this list. A modest bite paired with cool cucumber yield a unique taste that often brings cocktails to life. On its own, the gin refreshes the palate with a balanced sweetness from the citrus and rose. We also recommend their limited edition Orbium, if you can find it.
Most gins featuring licorice let it take a backseat, but Anchor Old Tom lets it run the show with a little help from stevia. If you already love gin (and licorice), this sweeter version of the spirit will take you to uncharted flavor territories.
Like Bar Hill, this gin has a silkier texture, though a warm burn on the finish really grabs your attention. Filliers Dry Gin 28 is the product of more than a century of skilled genever work finally poured into a gin distillery. The Belgian gin boasts 28 botanicals, most notably Belgian hops which give it a heartier feel than most other gins.
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