By definition, gin is a distilled spirit whose main flavor derives from juniper berries. This classification may seem restrictive, especially for those who find the berry’s prominent piney, earthy character to be challenging. But while the essence of juniper unites all gins, it is the blend of supporting botanicals, or the “botanical bill,” that imbues each bottle with its unique profile. And therein lies the magic of gin.
In its most traditional guise, the London Dry style of gin builds upon the juniper core with a blend of seeds, roots, peels, and barks. Among the most common are coriander seeds, licorice and angelica root, cassia or cinnamon bark, and lemon and orange peel. Navy-strength gins, another traditional style, follow a similar formula but arrive at a higher proof point.
In recent years, distillers have pushed boundaries with their botanical bills, rapidly altering the flavor profile of their gins and ultimately opening up the category to a broader group of drinkers. The (unofficial) New Western Dry style tends to skew fruitier and often more floral than London Dry, with dialed-down juniper influence. Many describe it as a more approachable intro to the spirit. Meanwhile, in countries like Japan and India, distillers have turned to ingredients native to their homelands to carve out new subcategories and capture a sense of place and culinary culture.
Whether you’ve previously sworn off gin or are looking to explore new styles, there are a number of great bottles waiting to be discovered. After tasting through dozens (and dozens) of bottles, VinePair has compiled this list highlighting the best of the best.
From classic London Dry and spicy and floral New Western gins to bottles from India, Ireland, Japan, and beyond, here are the 30 best gins to drink right now.
Beefeater London Dry
Last year, Beefeater subtly dropped the ABV of its gin in the U.S. market from 47 percent to 44 percent. If you happen to come across a bottle of the higher-proof older bottling, consider holding onto it as it could become a collector’s item one day. Nevertheless, the iconic brand retains its classic juniper-charged profile in the now slightly less boozy guise. Beefeater remains an affordable standard for the London Dry style, and is beloved with good reason. Average price: $19.
Farmer’s Botanical Small Batch Organic Gin
Some may be drawn to the idea of an “organic” gin, while others may raise their eyebrows, concerned that this is a (legally defined) marketing play. All can rest assured that the gin inside this bottle stands on its own. Its aromas are quite reserved, hinting at juniper and lemongrass, but the palate comes to life with bursts of elderflower and lime zest. All signs point to a refreshing G&T with a juicy lime wedge. Average price: $20.
On its bottle label, Askur Yggdrasil goes to great lengths to highlight the provenance of its ingredients and the production process. We learn that the base spirit is made from French wheat, is column- and copper-pot distilled, includes botanicals like Balkan juniper and Spanish citrus peel, and is proofed with Icelandic water. Do these details make a difference? Absolutely. The six individual botanicals shine bright on the palate and arrive with balance and body, delivering a great example of “Nordic Inspired” London Dry gin. Average price: $21.
Waterloo No. 9
Treaty Oak Distilling captures the essence of Texas Hill Country in this New Western gin, wIth a botanical bill that includes lavender, grapefruit, lemon, and pecans. The vibrant fragrance of lavender defines each sniff and sip, and intertwines nicely with its citrus and earthy notes. The 47 percent ABV content ups the intensity, adding energy to the palate without ever feeling hot. Average price: $24.
Arriving in a striking bottle that promises to improve the aesthetic of any liquor shelf or bar cart, Citadelle gin is light, delicate, and remarkably easygoing. Its aromas are perfumed with a spray of citrus oil and a waft of lemon thyme, while the palate lands a subtle piney finish. Think of this as a (lightly) flavored vodka with elegance, and by all means take that as a compliment. Average price: $24.
Bombay Sapphire is vapor-infused with eight traditional London Dry botanicals. The process results in a classical profile but one that arrives with a more considered, delicate touch. Though its character is subtle, this gin holds its own in all the classic gin cocktails. Start with a Negroni to highlight its vibrant citrus notes. Average price: $24.
Fords London Dry
Created by Simon Ford and Master Distiller Charles Maxwell, Fords was custom-designed with bartenders and cocktail creation in mind. It only takes a few sips to confirm they nailed the brief. This gin offers a balanced, well-rounded example of the London Dry style that shows both depth and nuance. It doesn’t try to stand out with fancy or left-field botanicals, and manages to compete with the established titans in the category on flavor, quality, and even price point. Average price: $25.
New York Distilling Company Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin
Distilled in Brooklyn, this is a historical nod to the 57 percent ABV level that would still allow canons to be fired should their gunpowder become soaked in gin. With blasts of citrus, juniper, and black pepper, Perry’s Tot inspires that rarest of questions: How exactly should one drink a gin that’s nearly 120 proof? We suggest an authentic British Navy staple: the Gimlet. Average price: $28.
Gin Lane 1751 London Dry Royal Strength Gin
“Royal strength” seems like the kind of phrase you might come across on a gin bottle’s label (see the previous listing); it actually holds no technical or historical relevance. This British distillery uses the terminology to note the slightly higher ABV content of this versus its standard London Dry bottling. Semantics aside, this is wonderful gin, rich in orange and lemon peel notes, and bright juniper. Pitch-perfect Martinis and G&Ts await. Average price: $28.
Bluecoat American Dry
From Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Distilling arrives this pioneering American gin. It begins with sweet and fruity citrus aromas, then transitions to spicy and complex character on the palate. The juniper is consistent throughout, but never exceeds a quiet whisper, making this great gin for those looking to explore the category for the first time. Average price: $28.
Produced by Beam-Suntory, and translating to “six” in Japanese, Roku is a delicate, citrus-forward new-age gin. Its name reflects the native ingredients included in its botanical bill (sakura flower, sakura leaf, yuzu peel, sencha tea, gyokuro tea, and sanshō pepper), and inspires its sleek hexagonal bottle. We love it in a stirred dry Martini served with a simple lemon twist. Average price: $29.
Unsurprisingly for a brand whose name is the Spanish translation of juniper, this gin places the spirit’s signature botanical front and center. Notes of lemon peel and black pepper provide range and balance, but each sip ultimately comes back to juniper. Despite the focus on a single ingredient, Junipero never feels one-dimensional and lends credence to the notion that less can mean more, even in gin. Average price: $31.
135 Degrees East Hyogo Dry Gin
The gin is produced by Japan’s Kaikyo Distillery and launched in the U.S. market in 2020. The fact that its sansho pepper, yuzu, and shiso leaf aromas immediately identify it as a Japanese gin is testament to both the quality of distilling and the growing body of high-class bottles from Japan. The palate takes a more delicate turn from the complex citrus and savory nose, leaning into soft petals and a subtly sweet, fruity finish. Average price: $31.
New Riff Kentucky Wild
Kentucky’s New Riff Distilling may be best known for its whiskeys but this bottle proves it’s a name gin drinkers should also be familiar with. This is a spirit of dual personalities that speaks to robust, earthy grain on the nose and bright, energetic spices on the palate. It may be American but by no means does this gin embody the easygoing New Western style. It’s a heady, unique, and, dare we say, wild ride. Average price: $32.
Tanqueray No. Ten
With dialed-down juniper notes, and an attractive herbaceous, citrus core, Tanqueray No. Ten lives up to its billing as “the ultimate cocktail gin.” Mix it in anything from a refreshing G&T or boozy Martinis to lesser-known classics like the Last Word, and its inviting character will still shine through. The bottle and weighty screw top also have a real classy feel, which doesn’t hurt. Average price: $33.
Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin
Perhaps it’s the power of suggestion, but the botanicals in this gin seem to arrive fresher than many others on the market, and taste as though they were meticulously hand-picked. Its aromas mix piney juniper with rain-soaked green grass, and the palate delivers freshly bloomed flowers and more juniper in measured, well-balanced sips. Average price: $33.
Caorunn Small Batch Scottish Gin
From Speyside, Scotland, Caorunn blends six traditional gin botanicals with five wild botanicals foraged in the highlands. The nose has vibrant herbal character, before notes of citrus peel meet wildflowers and black pepper spice on the palate. This gin tastes carefully crafted and serves a crisp, precise drinking experience. Average price: $33.
Sipsmith London Dry
A pioneer of British craft distilling, Sipsmith has long cemented its reputation as a bartender staple since its launch in 2009. Produced using custom-designed (and cutely named) copper stills, this gin exudes freshness. Its balanced profile captures the true essence of London Dry and serves a versatile foundation for classic cocktails. Average price: $35.
Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin
Invigorating cardamom and coriander spice kick things off and lead onto a juniper-rich palate that has a wonderful citrus zing. The bottle, which was recently updated with a new design, states “American Dry” but the profile feels quite classic. Mix in a G&T — or let Greenhook do the work for you and pick up one of its wonderful RTD canned versions. Average price: $35.
Vim & Petal Dry Gin
Made using winter wheat, this is a robust, full-bodied American gin that has complex botanical character. Dried orange peel and star anise notes make this a great pick for Negronis, while its black tea and cardamom spice will pair majestically with a craft tonic water and a freshly squeezed lime. Average price: $35.
The Vale Fox Distillery Tod & Vixen’s Dry Gin 1651
Distilled in New York’s Hudson Valley, this is another craft gin with serious cocktail-making credentials. Created in partnership with the late Gary (“Gaz”) Regan, Leo Robitschek, and Jeffery Morganthaler, each sip lands bursts of rosemary oil, peppery juniper, and vibrant orange. The latter is a welcome reminder that when mixing in a dry Martini, you should always include two dashes of orange bitters. Garnish this one with a twist. Average price: $37.
KOVAL Dry Gin
KOVAL’s dry gin has an approachable fruity core, much like the Chicago distillery’s thoroughly enjoyable Single Barrel Bourbon. (Interestingly, a recent tasting of that bourbon recalled a juniper-like quality.) The aromas are citrus- forward, and a spray of spice adds texture and balance to the fresh and dried berries on the palate. Add mineral water and some juicy raspberries for a refreshing summer highball. Average price: $37.
The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
Made by Scotland’s Bruichladdich Distillery, this gin is notable for the 22 ingredients in its botanical bill, each of which is hand-picked by a full-time gin forager on the Isle of Islay. Most of us won’t be familiar with the flavors of bog-myrtle, mugwort, and creeping thistle, but any who taste this will agree on its fine quality and the fact it is fully deserving of its Botanist title. Average price: $40.
Hendrick’s Lunar Gin
This gin has a vague, mystic quality that may be influenced by its somewhat ambiguous name. Lemon balm and verbena aromas precede a palate that has a pleasant earthy character. Subtle sweetness and tingling spice provide a balanced finish, as you ponder where exactly this gin lands on the style spectrum. Without question, this is the best of Hendrick’s limited-edition releases so far. Average price: $40.
Amass Dry Gin
With musty, piney fruit, flamed orange peel, and scorched cinnamon aromas, Amass smells like a bougie candle. It also looks like a bottle you might buy on Instagram and the quality of the liquid lives up to the attractive branding. Many gins try but fail to deliver the complexity of this offering, falling disappointingly short because of a lack of balance. Distilled with no fewer than 29 botanicals, this one is a roaring, delectable success. Average price: $43.
Neversink Spirits Gin
Neversink offers a different take on the New Western style, with the fruit used for its base distillate notable throughout. While made from apples, its aromas and flavors dance closer to grapes. The eau de vie base provides a full-bodied foundation on which spearmint, angelica root, and licorice notes shine. The latter confirms that mixing a Corpse Reviver No. 2 should be your first cocktail of call. Average price: $46.
Nikka Coffey Gin
Four native Japanese citrus fruits are included in Nikka Coffey’s botanical bill, alongside sansho peppers and traditional ingredients like juniper berries, angelica root, and coriander. Its citrus notes are nuanced and layered, and the sansho peppers add umami. All the while, the traditional botanicals shine through, creating a profile that lies somewhere between a London Dry gin and a savory new-age delight. Average price: $46.
Hapusa Himalayan Dry Gin
Many common gin botanicals grow freely in India so it should come as no surprise that distillers there offer high-caliber craft gins. This release uses Indian-grown ginger and cardamom, and Himalayan juniper. It bounds off the beaten track with the inclusion of mango and turmeric (among other botanicals), both of which define its profile. This is not a “classic” gin by any count, and it shouldn’t be the first or only bottle you stock your bar with. But its distinctive flavor opens up a broad avenue for adventurous cocktail creation. Average price: $46.
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin
Another standout Indian release, this gin is more traditional in its overall profile while also highlighting many of the wonderful spices associated with India’s cuisine. (Think cardamom, turmeric, green tea, coriander seeds, and lemongrass.) The palate is balanced and surprisingly versatile, meaning you can confidently mix it in the classics knowing you won’t miss the mark but can expect a subtle, enjoyable twist. Average price: $51.
Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin
Made with 47 botanicals, this gin proves quantity and quality can absolutely (and deliciously) coexist. The abundance of ingredients makes picking out individual aromas and flavors quite a challenge, but that’s also a testament to its balance. Instead, sipping this gin is like taking a journey — one with multiple stops that include fresh and dried berries, fragrant flower patches, exhilarating spice, and sweet and savory herbs. Special-occasion Martinis never tasted so good. Average price: $68.
Published: April 1, 2021