We’ve put brands to the test to give you some refreshingly delicious festive gin ideas
Gin is having quite a moment. Its popularity has grown massively over the last couple of years and it seems that everyone has taken a shine to it these days – it’s becoming quite the ‘cool’ drink. And what was once referred to as ‘mother’s ruin’ is now a staple on cocktail lists world-wide. In fact, according to www.gov.uk in 2015, exports of top-class gin had risen by 37%. So, we thought it would be an ideal time to try out the latest festive gins to indulge in this Christmas?
A refreshing summer drink or a festive gin fizz of a cocktail, enjoying gin is certainly not season specific. Its popularity has led to several gin dedicated bars popping up across the country, along with gin festivals and events keeping fans entertained all-year round. Bartenders are serving it any which way too – emerging fruity and sweet flavours make enjoying it on its own very appealing, and as a long drink it’s being served with refreshing slices of cucumber, and many different mixers too, breathing new life into the traditional G&T.
Whether you are seasoned gin lover or new to the game, there are plenty of bottles on the market to choose from and making it appeal to a much wider audience. We were sent a batch of different brands to try from traditional dry gins to some of the newer fruitier flavours.
Is it time to jazz up your gin? Here’s what we thought:
Produced in South-West France, G’Vine Gin comes in two different distinct expressions, a fresh and floral, G’Vine Floraison, and the intense and aromatic, G’Vine Nouaison. Its signature serve is with ice, tonic and three white grapes. Available at Oddbins for£38 for G’Vine Floraison and £39.50 for G’Vine Nouaison. We tried the G’Vine Nouaison option.
“On first impressions, the bottle was simple and elegant and featured a grapes design, which made me wonder if you would be able to taste the grape in the gin itself. It had a fresh and surprisingly quite floral scent and when I took a sip (straight), it was nice and sweet, unlike other gins, which was lovely. I’m not a big fan of tonic so I mixed it with lemonade and ice and it was delicious. I’d say this brand is perfect for someone who enjoys a sweet tasting tipple, it was a surprisingly nice change in taste. I can see why this pairs well with tonic but it’s certainly one you can explore different mixers with too, or even straight with ice and a slice! I really enjoyed it and for someone who doesn’t really choose gin normally, it won me over.” 8/10
We tried the Williams Chase Pink Grapefruit Gin. Described as floral and zesty, with a wave of tartness hitting your tongue first, followed by a juicy kick of grapefruit peel and subtle hints of juniper round out the flavour. One that serves well in a cocktail, try it as a Grapefruit and Cucumber Bliss. Available for £38/70cl.
“The bottle is eye catching and attractive and the gin itself has a pink tinge to it which is unusual. First impressions were that it looked classy and expensive. I love gin but I don’t normally go for a flavoured one. It had a slight citrus scent which came through as I poured it into my glass. I went for a traditional drink to test it and mixed it with a premium tonic and ice. The grapefruit taste was very overpowering and it was very strong! I don’t think I would want more than a few drinks. I did enjoy it, but as a long drink, I prefer a dryer standard gin. It worked great in the cocktail though! It’s a great one to serve up as a welcome drink for a party.” 7/10
Its Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin has won awards and is described as being a clear, light and crisp gin with rounded spice and a touch of juniper. Best served as a classic gin & tonic and as a perfect match to Thai food. Buy in Aldi for £9.97.
“Being a bit of a brand snob I was really unsure about Aldi’s own brand gin at first but I was also curious to see what all the hype was about, being that it has won awards. It looks the part, very similar in bottle design to other dry gins, and I have to say that I was very impressed. It’s a little too heavy on the juniper if drinking neat but as a long drink with lots of ice and mixers, such as Bitter lemon, tonic & mint and orange, this wasn’t a problem. If you like a standard gin and tonic, Aldi’s gin makes you wonder if spending £15 – £50 is necessary, when you can get the same drinking experience for less than a tenner!” 10/10
Handcrafted and distilled on the Scottish island of Islay, The Botanist is a representation of the region’s progressive heritage. Nine classic gin botanicals are augmented by 22 local herbs and flowers, all foraged responsibly and by hand from the hills, shores and bogs of the Hebridean Island by botanical scientists. Available from Waitrose, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and other specialist stores and premium retailers for £34.99/700ml and £13.99/200ml.
“I hadn’t heard of this gin before but from the bottle itself I was certainly eager to try it. It was simple but elegant and very chic. The clear glass features the names of all the botanicals (apple, mint, chamomile, creeping thistle, downy birch, elder, gorse and hawthorn to name only 8) imprinted around the bottle, creating an instant connection to the gin and thirsty to find out more. Pink lemonade is always my first choice of mixer but it didn’t have the same taste with The Botanist. It has a real citrus kick at first taste, then a subtle hint of spice comes through as it reached the back, which I found didn’t work well with the sweet lemonade. I tried it with tonic which is a mixer I don’t usually like but it went lovely with this particular gin, the tonic really brought out the citrus flavours of the gin, along with that warm spice, leaving you wanting more and making this quite the perfect drink. I would definitely recommend this gin, especially with the tonic.” 9/10
Tanqueray London Dry Gin is said to be the preferred gin of legend Frank Sinatra. It blends four-times distilled spirit with a hand picked selection of four botanicals. It’s available from most supermarkets and specialist shops and costs between £21 and £26 for a one-litre bottle.
“The bottle is simple but stylish and the gin itself has a very smooth taste, not bitter like some gins, ideal with tonic, lemon and/or lime. I’m a big fan of gin and tonic and Tanqueray is one of my favourites so I knew it was going to be a winner with tonic. With that in mind, I decided to try something new this time and mix it up with ginger ale, and I also tried it with fruit juice. Gin and ginger ale is really refreshing and is a great idea for a festive twist on your usual drink. Using a dry gin is better in this instance because you don’t want an overly sweet drink, and similarly with the fruit juice. Tanqueray is not the cheapest but it is so worth it.” 9/10
Warner Edwards has created a specialist gin using a crop of rhubarb originally grown in the kitchen garden of Buckingham palace during the reign of Queen Victoria, hence its name The Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin. Rhubarb juice is extracted using a traditional fruit press and blended with its Harrington Dry Gin to produce a tangy pink colour gin. Best served with tonic or ginger ale and plenty of ice.
“I was excited to receive this gin as not only is it a very pretty and unusual bottle, it is pink in colour and has connections to Queen Victoria! What more could you want from a drink, I thought. I must admit a pink colour gin wins points with me instantly. It had a strong scent and you could smell the sharpness of rhubarb almost straight away. I tried it with my usual tonic and lots of ice – at first taste I was surprised by the full flavour and it was sweet too, but with a tangy after taste coming through from the rhubarb. Pretty looking and tasty, this is certainly a great drink to have in at Christmas or as a gift!” 8/10
The English Drinks Co
Cucumber Gin is a premium gin made from 100% British grain with distilled cucumber to give it a fresh flavour. The crisp cucumber scents combine with an aromatic juniper base to deliver a contemporary gin with a unique taste. Available for £32.98 from Majestic Wine.
“Great! A gin which has a cucumber flavour and eliminates the need to add a slice to my drink and it does just that. It became a popular way to serve Hendricks gin – adding a slice of cucumber to give a refreshing and fresh taste to a dry gin – and it worked, but with this gin you get the same subtle fresh taste without having to add it in yourself. I was also sent a bottle Qcumber fizzy water sample to try with it but this was too much. Together it became overly sweet – great if you like that- but it was too sickly for me. The cucumber gin on its own with tonic, ice and a slice of lemon was delicious. The only worry if you do buy this one is that time when you fancy just a traditional G&T!” 9/10
Have you tried one of these brands new or old? Tell us more in the comments section below.
Please drink responsibly.