Friday, June 12, 2015

World Gin Day - My Top Twelve...

In celebration of World Gin Day tomorrow, I have collated my list of a dozen of the best, which I think we should stock at WBP.

No. 1. The Botanist.

The Botanist, distilled on the isle of Islay, one of the Hebrides islands, is a pot distilled gin made from 22 botanicals foraged from around the island. These locally sourced ingredients are "gently coaxed into releasing their complex signature aromatics". I find it has a cool and even initial taste, then as it hits the back of the tongue the aromatic compounds start to release themselves, unleashing citrus high notes on a base of peppery warmth. A decent gin for a martini as it drinks well in a minimally adulterated form.

No. 2. Tanqueray 10.

Tanq. 10 is one of my staples, as it is a good all rounder. Distilled in a small copper still, known as 'Tiny Ten' - from which it takes its name - it contains full but well balanced citrus tones from the whole oranges, grapefruit and limes which are introduced to the spirit in the still, along with other herbs popular to most gins such as coriander, chamomile and of course juniper. It drinks well in all cocktails and is perfect for a G&T on any occasion.

No. 3. Hendrick's.

Hendrick's thanks to its quirky marketing has become very popular in recent years, but then they do produce a good product. Slightly sweeter than many gins on the market, this will appeal to people who do not prefer a dry martini. I myself however, have only tried it in G&T. Its floral notes make it appealing for picnics and summer's afternoons, being popularly served with a slice or two of cucumber in one's glass. It would also be suitable for light cocktails perhaps with summer berries or elder flower liqueur.

I used to love Bombay Sapphire gin when I was a student. Like No. 10, it is a pretty good all-rounder, although not exceptional in a martini. Over the past few years they have released a few variations on the standard mix, the first being Bombay East (which Peter and I bought a bottle of last year when we went on holiday to Penang, and actually left it mostly full in the hotel room as it was unpleasantly peppery and did not make for an uplifting mixture). Last month they released "Star of Bombay", which in addition to their 10 usual ingredients also contains Bergamot and Arabella seed. I picked up a bottle from DFS on the way home recently and I must say it is the best gin in the Bombay range. I would happily use it for a martini. It is, however, only available for a limited time so if you wish to try it I suggest you go and treat yourself to a bottle soon!

No. 5. Bloom.
This gin stands out as something different. It is a light, sweet gin with honeysuckle notes. Suited for when you want to enjoy a more subtle drink without a heady alcoholic punch (only 80% proof compared to say the Leopold, at 114% proof). Sometimes referred to as a gin for ladies!

A crisp dry gin with floral hints mixed with undertones of Bramley apples, this gin is made in Hertfordshire from neutral spirit from fermented apples. It is re-distilled with lemon, hops and elder-flower among other ingredients to produce this fine gin perfect for an elegant martini on a summer afternoon, or perhaps a vesper (3 Oz Gin, 1 Oz Vodka, and 1/2 Oz Lillet Blanc. Shake with ice and strain into martini glass. Garnish with lemon after rimming glass).

No. 7. Rogue Society .

This is the only NZ gin on the list, but is definitely one to compete with the others. If one could suggest that Bloom is a gin for the ladies, then this is definitely a gin for the men. It's masculinity comes from notes of leather, sap, and coriander. It has an intriguing depth and woodiness to it. Great for the classic dry martini (2 1/2 Oz Gin, 5 Oz Dry Vermouth and a dash of orange bitters. Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass. Serve with a twist of lemon).

No. 8. Monkey 47.

Bold flavours of lime with herbal overtones from spruce, lingonberries, lavender and hibiscus. These are but a few of the 47 aromatic ingredients used to make this revival gin from a post war Black Forest recipe. A heavy gin to be savoured on its own or in a cocktail such as The Aviator (2 Oz Gin, 1/2 Oz Maraschino Liqueur, 1/4 Oz Creme de Violette or Creme Yvette, and 3/4 Oz fresh lemon juice. Shake with ice and strain into martini glass. Serve with a cherry).

A hot peppery spicy dry gin suitable for classic dry martini. It has fresh pine and citrus beginnings with a warm and balanced end palate. 

This American gin is a powerful 114% proof strong flavoured gin. Good for the G&T, or for a lethal martini!

No. 11. Bulldog.
Made from neutral spirit distilled from Norfolk wheat, flavoured with 12 botanicals including liquorice root, lavender, and almonds, this London dry gin is another good all-rounder. It is not as aromatic as say Bombay, and so suits someone who doesn't usually drink gin, and is good in cocktails such as a Negroni (1 Oz of Campari, 1 Oz of Gin, and 1 Oz of Sweet vermouth. Mix the ingredients in an old fashioned glass filled with ice, and serve with an orange twist).

Now, I'm not a fan of  Gordon's London dry gin, as I find it too highly perfumed and a little like drinking eau de cologne, but I do like their sloe gin. I'm a big fan of sloe gin. I usually have it in my hip flask when I go hunting; and have plans afoot to make some of my own at WBP. Gordon's sloe gin is easily drinkable and smooth. It is also very reasonably priced too. They have recently released an elder-flower gin which I look forward to trying soon.

Caution: Please drink responsibly. 
Willowbrook Park endorses the responsible service of alcohol. 


  1. Well, I for one will be celebrating tomorrow with a gee and tee or two! You are lucky to have found Monkey 47, a gin I'm mad to try for myself. We enjoy patronizing a local independent spirits shop and they've been trying to track it down for the past year at my request. I'll have to swing by tomorrow (seems apt) and see if they've made any further progress.

    In the meantime, I highly recommend you try a local gin to our area, St. George. They make three distinct variants and the Botanivor and Terroir are a hit in our household.

    Thanks for the recommendation of Star of Bombay. I enjoy Sapphire so will seek this one out too.

    Cheers for tomorrow!

  2. Luckily gin drinking is not one of my vices, having not drunk responsibly on my last night at school...forty years ago. I couldn't bear the smell of it or tonic for years, although in the intervening period I have enjoyed one G&T at lunch in Zurich about ten years ago. The memory of the bad and the good very much instilled (appropriately enough) in my mind. Your selection makes trying mother's ruin again rather tempting. And I don't think I will have the mother of all hangovers this time around.


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