Americans are rediscovering the simple elegance and wonderful complexity of Britain’s most famous export. More than any other clear spirit, premium gins are made from recipes that endow them with well-developed characters and highly defined personalities. They have breeding and lineage measured in centuries. It is a rarefied lot, with the fewest number of premium brands of all major spirits.
A large part of gin’s mystique is that each brand is distinctively individual. An exceptional gin etches itself on one’s sensory memory like a lilting perfume. No two major labels of gin taste or smell the same, so it’s easy to appreciate how once smitten, people can become such devotees of one brand over the rest of the field. So when gin aficionados say they fancy a particular gin more than the others, believe them.
In the event you missed the fanfare of initial release, the following are our choice of the most fascinating new gins that you likely haven’t heard of… yet.
• Beefeater 24 — This new release is distilled with a unique blend of 12 hand-selected botanicals, an aromatic mix that also features Seville oranges, grapefruit peels and Chinese green and Japanese sencha teas. The orange and grapefruit peels greatly bolster the citrus component, while the featured teas add an intriguing herbal essence to the spirit that distinguishes it from the field. (90 proof)
• Bluecoat — Handcrafted in Philadelphia, organic Bluecoat American Dry Gin is pot distilled from rye, wheat, barley and corn. The resulting spirit is infused with juniper, sweet orange peels and fresh citrus. In a break from style, the fruit notes and flavors take center stage. (94 proof)
• Bols Barrel Aged Genever — Lucas Bols, the world’s oldest distilled spirits company, released this new expression exclusively for the U.S. market. Aged for 18-months in Limousin oak barrels, the genever embraces the wood characters of aged American whiskies while maintaining the herbaceous, juniper flavors of the original Bols Genever. (82 proof)
• Bulldog — This ultra-premium from London is handcrafted in small copper pot stills from English grain and a blend of 12 aromatics. The mix includes dragon eye, a fruit from Southeast Asia long renown for its aphrodisiac properties. Surgically balanced. (80 proof)
• Caorunn — If you’re searching for a fascinating gin for the backbar, look no further than Caorunn (pronounced ka—roon), a small-batch spirit produced at the Balmenach Distillery in the Scottish Highlands. The gin is distilled with 11 botanicals, five of which are indigenous to the Speyside. (83.6 proof)
• Citadelle Gin Réserve Vintage 2010 — Produced in Cognac by Gabriel & Andreu, the vintage-dated gin is triple-distilled in a Cognac pot still and formulated with a staggering 19 botanicals. The spirit is then aged several months in oak casks. While 2010 is the third vintage of Citadelle Gin Reserve, this is the first time that the cellar master has created the gin with a specific combination of botanicals intentionally designed for oak aging. (88 proof)
• Cold River — Small batch Cold River Gin is made in Freeport, Maine, from locally sourced potatoes and spring water from an underground aquifer. It has an oily textured body and balanced palate with juniper in the lead and zesty citrus and cardamom spice on the finish. (94 proof)
• Fifty Pounds London Dry — Crafted by centuries-old Thames Distillers in London, the gin is infused with 11 aromatics and botanicals, three of which are a proprietary secret. After distillation, the spirit is rested for three weeks to allow the flavor of the botanicals to fully integrate. (87 proof)
• Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin — Based on an artisanal colonial French recipe, this saffron-infused entry is made in small batches in a copper pot still. The result is a bold and delectable gin, golden-hued and brimming with herbal essence. It’s well worth searching for. (80 proof)
• Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin — This super-premium gin is crafted with several botanicals not previously combined in a gin, namely peaches, raspberry and Turkish rose. The gin is slightly sweet and floral. (95.2 proof)
• No. 209 — Made at Distillery No. 209 at San Francisco’s famed Pier 50, its namesake gin is a brilliantly balanced spirit with a citrus and spiced laced palate with the juniper taking a back seat. Small batch No. 209 is a classy, skillfully crafted spirit. (92 proof)
• Spring44 — Spring44 is an unconventional and thoroughly imaginative gin. It’s handmade using many locally sourced botanicals and aromatics. The secret ingredient is the mineral-laced Rocky Mountain spring water, which comes from a spring a chilling 9,044 feet above sea level. (80 proof)