Ah, gin, that delightful spirit flavored with juniper and rich with history. Developed in Medieval Holland and the favored liquor of London by the 17th century, gin is now one of the world’s most beloved types of booze, used in cocktails complex and simple alike and oft enjoyed on the rocks or even neat.
Gin can be produced using myriad ingredients as the source of the distillate, including barley, wheat, rye, or decidedly more unexpected foodstuffs — Neversink Gin is distilled from a mash using 100% New York State apples, for example. The only real stipulation for a spirit to be called a gin is that its primary botanical flavoring and aroma must be derived from juniper berries. In fact, it is the Latin word for juniper, juniperus, from which the Dutch word genever was derived, this being later Anglicized and truncated to gin.
While most people airily associate gin with the Brits (Sipsmith London Dry Gin perfectly embodies an English gin, if you’re interested), what with their 18th-century Gin Craze and the habit of British soldiers stationed in tropical regions to use it to make anti-malarial quinine palatable (which led to the vaunted gin and tonic), today American distillers are producing some of the finest gins on the planet. See Watershed Distillery’s Four Peel Gin and actor-cum-distiller Ryan Reynold’s American Aviation Gin as Exhibits A and B to back that claim.
But while there are some mighty fine gins coming out of a number of American stills these days, if you want to find the most expensive gins on earth, you still have to look overseas. Here are five of the priciest bottles of this lovely juniper juice.
Spring Gin Gentlemen’s Cut – $101
This Belgian gin is distilled four times, the first three using only the grain bill, and the fourth with 13 botanicals added. A peppery, piney aroma backs up the juniper and other essences, while a 48.8% alcohol by volume makes this a good gin for use in cocktails. And at just over one hundred bucks a bottle, you won’t feel too badly about blending it with mixers.
45 West Distillery Burleighs London Dry Gin – $370
These Brits make a fine gin, no doubt about it. Their London Dry Gin is infused with silver birch, dandelion, elderberries, and more, and it’s a delight on the rocks, with lemon, in a martini, and beyond. But is a 750-milliliter bottle worth $370 USD? No. But their comically-giant 4.5 liter bottle is. That’s six standard bottles in one, for reference, bringing the price per 750 ml to about $62.
Nolet Reserve Dry Gin – $700
Nolet’s is a 10th-generation family-owned Dutch distillery, so you can rest assured they know how to produce a fine gin. This multi-award-winning gin uses juniper and other botanicals, with two, in particular, helping explain its flavor and price: “To achieve Nolet’s Reserve Gin’s complex, unforgettable flavor and dry, long-lasting final impression, [distiller] Carolus Nolet Sr. handcrafted a recipe highlighting two distinctive botanicals: warm spicy saffron and subtle, delicate verbena.” Note that saffron is the most expensive spice on the planet.
The Cambridge Distillery Watenshi Gin – $2,700
Only six bottles of this gin are produced per run of distillation, so you’ll have to try and try again if you want to find one. But these bottles are worth the hunt and the price, for they contain a spirit rarely obtained. As the distiller’s site explains: “Revered by gin collectors as the absolute pinnacle of modern spirits production, Watenshi is the “angel’s share” of our Japanese Gin, normally lost to evaporation but preserved using our pioneering distillation processes – which yields just 15ml of spirit per distillation.” This gin, with “notes of sweet citrus and spice, supported by bitter juniper and an incredibly long, complex finish,” is quite literally the portion that no one ever got to taste before.
Jam Jar Gin Morus LXIV – $5,200
This ridiculously expensive gin sells for £4,000, so based on the current exchange rate of Pounds Sterling to USD, it might even cost a bit more than the dollar price as of this writing, which is $5.217.40 for a 700-milliliter bottle. At 64% ABV, it packs plenty of punch, and the fact that, as the distillery’s site states, it is “distilled from the leaves of a single, ancient Mulberry tree [and as] a single batch of this exquisite cask-strength gin takes more than two years of careful work to produce,” a high price makes sense. Just maybe not quite that high, but of course, you buy this “very bloody marvelous” gin as much for prestige as for flavor.
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