Out of the major spirits, gin receives the least amount of love when it comes to standing on its own. There are intricate ways to enjoy whiskey, Russians will never let any of us forget how much straight vodka they drink each day, tequila and mezcal are finally getting the recognition they deserve, and even rum broke free of the tiki-only realm. So why don’t more people drink neat gin?
A staple gin, like a Beefeater or a Tanqueray, is as straightforward as it is polarizing. Despite the craft cocktail revolution getting more people to dip their toes in the gin pool, many still can’t even 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.
McQueen and the Violet Fog
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.
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
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.
Barr Hill Gin
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 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 new limited edition Orbium, if you can find it.
Bluecoat Barrel Finished Gin
While gin is neglected, aged gins are often flat out ignored. This American gin sits in oak barrels for three months before it’s bottled. The resulting amber gin adds notes of vanilla to the standard gin profile and a pleasant burn caps off the entire experience.
Anchor Old Tom
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.
Filliers Dry Gin 28
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.