Gin is one of the most English of drinks, and a recent surge in popularity for this spirit is helping to repair its image, transforming the drink in the public mind from the ‘mother’s ruin’ reputation of old to something altogether more sophisticated. In fact, you may be surprised to know that annual sales of English gin have now passed the £1 billion mark, boosted by a resurgence of interest, not just in consuming gin, but in reviving and updating traditional methods of gin production.
This renaissance in the English gin world has seen hundreds of small scale artisan gin producers emerge to challenge the big guns of the gin industry, leading to an outpouring of gin creativity and a dazzling array of gin-products. Here are just some of the best English gins for your consideration:
Bloom have been creating gin for over 250 years, and top gin distiller Joanne Moore has brought her own distinctive take on the drink to their product. Combining honeysuckle, chamomile, and pomelo, and distilled in a conventional pot, her glamorous gin blend has won multiple awards. Best served with soda it offers a subtle range of delicate flavours.
Start Point Gin
Produced by the Salcombe Distilling Company in South Devon, this award winning gin has picked up global awards. Combining a zesty mix of 13 botanicals and pure water drawn from nearby Dartmoor, it is distilled in a 450 litre still through the old-fashioned one-shot method. This fragrant take on gin, along with its Finisterre version, which is aged in a sherry cask, was said to be inspired by the town’s fruit trade that saw exotic fruit arrive in Devon via the Mediterranean and West Indies.
The Portabello Road distillery in west London launched in 2011 and as well as producing some of the most exciting gins in England, also offers visitors a chance to see the distilling process first hand. Portobello Road gin draws on nine classic botanicals including nutmeg and cassia bark and is best served with grapefruit and tonic. And the Pechuga brand, offers a surprising twist. It is produced through the suspension of a turkey breast in the still, alongside the addition of fruits and spices, creating a unique and memorable set of flavours.
Sipsmith London Dry Gin
A boutique name in the gin world, that has since hit the mainstream, Sipsmith started off in a west London garage in 2009 and has led the way in forging new markets for English gin makers. Sold to spirit giant Beam Suntory in 2014, the Sipsmith range of gins have stayed true to the company’s London roots, and this traditional London Dry Gin is made with lemon and marmalade, adding a range of aromatic qualities that make it the perfect gin for martinis or serving with tonic over ice.
Tanqueray No Ten
A drink that earned its names from the pot still in which it is still distilled to this day, Tanqueray’s No Ten is one of the best known small-batch gins from a company that started making the drink in 1830. This is the gin to have earned a place in the San Francisco Spirits Hall of Fame. Favoured by some of the world’s top barmen, it’s a premium gin that combines camomile and citrus for a perfect blend.
Hayman’s Sloe Gin
There are few gin operators with a more impressive history than Haymans, who have been making gin for over 150 years. The Hayman family recipe is a closely guarded secret, and produces one of the most memorable range of English gins. Their strong tasting sloe gin also shows off the London-based distiller’s distinctive qualities. Dark red and plummy offering a hint of almond thanks to the flavours of wild-grown sloe fruits, this is an indulgent and warm classic.
Curio Rock Samphire Gin
Situated on the Lizard at the southernmost point of Cornwall, Curio use local ingredients to give a regional spin on the gin tradition, with impressive results. Their Samphire Gin is made using rock samphire taken from the Cornish cliffs, to produce a small-batch gin that is distilled four times to give it a distinctive purity and strength that means it can enjoyed neat.
East London Liquor Company Barrel-Aged Gin
Set up in what was once a glue factory, the East London Liquor Companyhas created an impressive reputation with their range of sophisticated spirits that are created and sold from its base at the corner of Victoria Park. They have produced a range of gins, including a premium cardamom-toned London dry gin, a brace of limited edition gins, and this sherry-barrel-aged gin that features pleasing orange zest and ginger cookie tones.
Founded in 1999, Hendrick’s has had great success in showing new approaches to the art of enjoying this classic drink. Their gin is presented in a bold apothecary bottle, and is made from Bulgarian rose and cucumber in a quadruple distillation. The result is a refreshing fragrant gin with a long finish that is particularly popular as a cocktail drink.