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16 of the best British gins for summer

16 of the best British gins for summer

by Great British Chefs 06 June 2017

Feeling the call of an ice-cold G&T? We tasted our way through a swathe of the best British gins to find our favourites for the coming summer months.


Mmm, gin. Ginny gin gin gin. We love gin here at Great British Chefs, so it made perfect sense to get in a load of bottles, taste our way through them and pick the ones we were most looking forward to guzzling down in the summer sun. We tried a mix of big-name brands available in the shops and some more obscure offerings from artisan distilleries which included botanicals ranging from honey to seaweed. There was only one rule – they had to be made in the UK.

It was a tough job for a Friday afternoon, but we managed it. Take a look at our top picks below.

Isle of Harris Gin, 45%, £35

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This gin definitely took first place in the pretty bottle department, and the flavour lived up to expectations. Refreshing, clean and soft, there was a definite taste of the ocean, which is fitting as it’s distilled in the Outer Hebrides and contains locally harvested sugar kelp as a botanical.

harrisdistillery.com/shop

Martin Miller’s Gin, 40%, £27

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One of the first craft gins to hit the UK, Martin Miller’s is made with Icelandic glacier water, which certainly gives it a clean, pure taste. The flavour is quite subtle and light, with the juniper and other botanicals less pronounced than in other gins, which makes it very drinkable and not too rich.

Available from major supermarkets

NB Gin, 42%, £28

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Distilled in North Berwick, Scotland, NB Gin isn’t one we’d come across before, but it’s won countless awards in its time and certainly stood out. Spicy yet smooth with a sort of sandalwood flavour, every one of the eight botanicals seemed perfectly balanced. No wonder it was the Queen’s gin of choice at her ninetieth birthday bash.

nbgin.com

Plymouth Gin, 41.2%, £23

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This is a really full-bodied, rounded gin that’s made in a different way to the majority of other London Dry varieties – something that’s obvious when you taste it. Instead of a big, bold hit of juniper with other botanicals playing second fiddle, they seem to meld together a lot more, lingering long after you’ve taken a sip.

Available from major supermarkets

Boodles Gin, 40%, £22

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Boodles is distilled without citrus fruit, which sets it apart from the majority of other gins on the market. This makes it a little easier to identify the other botanicals, although juniper still dominates (as it should). It’s incredibly smooth, with lots of herby, spicy flavours (particularly coriander), and is great for an easy-going G&T.

Available from Sainsbury’s

Rock Rose Gin, 41.5%, £34

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The Scots are making some incredible gins at the moment, using unusual local botanicals to give them a point of difference. Rock Rose is one of the best examples, using a whopping eighteen botanicals of which five are sourced nearby. The ‘rock rose’ is one of them, although don’t expect a rose-flavoured gin – instead, it has a very complex, interesting flavour that’s quite rich and develops beautifully on the tongue.

dunnetbaydistillers.co.uk

Conkers Gin, 40%, £35.95

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This was the first gin to be produced in Dorset, and it’s one of the most balanced gins we tasted. There are quite a few grassy, meadowy flavours, but they aren’t overpowering, and the slightly sweet finish gives Conkers a moreish twist.

conkerspirit.co.uk

Warner Edwards Honeybee Gin, 43%, £39.95

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Warner Edwards are known for their highly acclaimed gins, but this is a new one from their botanical series offered by the Craft Gin Club, a subscription-based service that sends you a rare or unusual bottle every month. It’s a really interesting one, with flavours of honey and lavender almost overtaking the juniper, and is possibly the drink most reminiscent of an English country garden we’ve ever had.

craftginclub.co.uk

Sweet Potato London Dry Gin, 45%, £30 (50cl)

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A gin made from sweet potatoes? We guess it was only a matter of time until someone did it. Don’t expect it to taste like actual sweet potatoes, though – instead, it has a more savoury character than other gins with an oily texture and plenty of spice.

thesweetpotatospiritcompany.com

The Lakes Gin Explorer Edition, 47.1%, £39.95

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Fifteen botanicals go into this limited edition bottle from The Lakes Distillery, including Cumbrian-grown juniper. It’s much more complex than standard gins, with quite a herbaceous, spicy flavour that’s given an extra kick thanks to the high ABV. It might be a little much served neat, but pair it with some good tonic and plenty of ice and it’s a really interesting gin that’s perfect for sipping as the sun sets.

lakesdistillery.com

LoneWolf Gin, 43%, £32

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One of the newest gins in the list, this comes from beer behemoth Brewdog, and is put through all sorts of cutting-edge kit before it reaches the bottle. The whole process is carried out within the company’s distillery (which is actually quite rare in the world of spirits), and the resulting gin is incredibly clean, fresh, interesting and smooth – despite quite a boozy aroma.

brewdog.com

Tarquin’s Sea Dog Navy Strength Gin, 57%, £39.95

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If you like your booze to be a no-nonsense, no-holds-barred belter, then this is probably the gin for you. The whopping 57% ABV makes it a bit dangerous – especially if you’re eyeballing your measures all night – but for the amount of alcohol packed in, it’s surprisingly palatable. It’s got seaside flavours with a clean, brisk nose that’s guaranteed to perk you up (before the inevitable sleepiness after a few G&Ts), and once diluted with tonic the balanced botanicals really start to show.

31dover.com

Cucumber Gin, 40%, £35

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We found this to be more of a cucumber-flavoured spirit than anything else, although the juniper base means it’s still technically a gin. While it’ll put off any purists, there’s no denying that this is an incredible summertime tipple, tasting just like the very English vegetable with just a hint of the botanicals in the aftertaste. It’s smooth enough to be enjoyed neat over ice, but becomes most refreshing in a G&T (with a slice of cucumber, of course).

englishdrinkscompany.co.uk

Tanqueray London Dry Gin, 43.1%, £18

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This is the gin that, for us, sets the bar for all others. It might not have any fancy botanicals in it or be able to weave tales of tiny copper stills in the craggy Highlands, but there’s a reason it’s been the gin of choice for bartenders for so many years – it just tastes really good. Perfect for a martini, at home in a G&T and suited to all sorts of other cocktails, it’s one of the best value for money gins out there.

Available from major supermarkets

Hendrick’s Gin, 41.4% £28

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Smooth, sweet and great for cocktails, Hendrick’s plays down the juniper a little bit, going for a more perfumed, fresh flavour instead. Rose and cucumber are added after distillation, which makes it particularly refreshing, and it’s a great example of a versatile gin that’s not going to offend anyone.

Available from major supermarkets

Bathtub Gin, 43.3%, £28.95

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Definitely one for spice-lovers – there’s obvious flavours of clove and cinnamon the second you smell and taste this gin. It’s a bit like a chai tea, with each of the botanicals almost taking it in turns to make itself known. Bathtub Gin is made by steeping the botanicals in the spirit rather than distilling the liquid, which gives it a slight off-colour, but don’t be put off – the flavour is terrifically punchy.

masterofmalt.com

The Teasmith Original Gin, 43%, £37.50

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One of the only gins in the world to use tea leaves (which come from Sri Lanka), this is a relatively new gin that adds to the roster of fantastic small-batch Scottish spirits now available. While we couldn’t really taste the tea leaves, the gin was certainly unique, with plenty of citrus flavours and a strong, clean juniper taste.

teasmithgin.com

Caorunn Gin, 41.8%, £26

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Yet another Scottish gin that’s faced huge success since its launch, Caorunn (Celtic for rowan berry, one of the botanicals) includes things like dandelion, heather and coul blush apple, which gives it a very crisp finish. It’s got a slightly savoury twang as you taste it, but the main reason we’d buy this gin again is because of how fresh and clean-tasting it is – especially when served ice-cold.

Available from major supermarkets

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