What is the best gin in the world?

by Kaia

Gin is a versatile and historic spirit that has seen a resurgence in popularity over the past few decades. Its unique botanical composition sets it apart from other spirits, offering a diverse range of flavors that appeal to connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. The search for the best gin in the world involves delving into the intricacies of its production, the quality of ingredients, and the creativity of the distillers. This article explores what makes a gin exceptional and identifies some of the top contenders for the title of the world’s best gin.


History and Evolution of Gin

Gin’s history is rich and storied, originating in the Netherlands in the 16th century before gaining immense popularity in Britain. Originally created as a medicinal tonic, gin has evolved significantly over the centuries. The Dutch spirit, known as jenever, was the precursor to modern gin. British soldiers in the Netherlands during the Eighty Years’ War developed a taste for the spirit, leading to its introduction in England. The infamous “Gin Craze” of the 18th century saw gin become widely consumed, often to the detriment of public health. However, the Gin Act of 1751 helped to regulate its production and distribution, paving the way for the high-quality gin we enjoy today.


The Botanical Backbone of Gin

At the heart of gin’s distinctive flavor is its botanical blend, with juniper berries being the most essential ingredient. The best gins in the world meticulously balance juniper with a variety of other botanicals, including coriander, angelica root, citrus peels, and more exotic ingredients like orris root and cubeb berries. The selection and proportion of these botanicals are what give each gin its unique profile. Master distillers experiment with different combinations to create gins that are both complex and harmonious. A top-tier gin must exhibit a perfect balance where no single botanical overwhelms the others.


Traditional vs. Modern Gin Styles

Gin can be broadly categorized into several styles, each with its own characteristics. London Dry Gin, the most traditional style, is known for its crisp, juniper-forward profile with minimal sweetness. This style adheres to strict regulations, ensuring a consistently high quality. On the other hand, New Western or Contemporary gins are more experimental, often featuring bold and unconventional botanicals that push the boundaries of what gin can be. These modern interpretations provide a refreshing twist and cater to evolving consumer tastes. The best gin in the world could come from either camp, depending on personal preferences and the skill of the distiller.


Iconic Gins That Set the Standard

Several iconic gins have set the standard for excellence in the industry. Beefeater London Dry Gin, with its classic juniper and citrus notes, has been a staple for over a century. Another venerable name is Tanqueray, renowned for its smooth, balanced flavor and distinctive green bottle. Hendrick’s Gin, with its infusion of cucumber and rose petals, revolutionized the market by introducing a unique, refreshing profile. These gins have not only stood the test of time but have also influenced countless other brands, setting benchmarks for quality and flavor.

Craft Distilleries and the Rise of Artisan Gin

The craft distilling movement has brought a new wave of creativity and innovation to the gin world. Small, independent distilleries are experimenting with local and sustainable botanicals, creating gins that are unique to their regions. These artisan gins often feature limited production runs and a hands-on approach to distillation, resulting in exceptional quality. Sipsmith, a pioneer in the craft gin movement, produces small-batch gins with meticulous attention to detail. Their commitment to quality and innovation has earned them a place among the best gins in the world.

The Role of Terroir in Gin Production

Much like wine, gin can be influenced by terroir—the unique combination of geography, climate, and soil where the botanicals are grown. Terroir-driven gins highlight the specific characteristics of their place of origin. For instance, Caorunn Gin from Scotland incorporates local botanicals like heather, dandelion, and Coul Blush apple, resulting in a gin that embodies the essence of the Scottish Highlands. Terroir adds a layer of complexity and authenticity to gin, making it a fascinating element in the quest for the best gin in the world.

See Also: Is glen grant a good whiskey?

Evaluating Gin: Tasting Notes and Criteria

When evaluating gin, experts consider several key criteria: aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and finish. A top-quality gin should have a complex yet harmonious aroma, with the juniper and other botanicals clearly discernible. The flavor should be well-balanced, with each botanical contributing to the overall profile without overpowering the others. The mouthfeel should be smooth and pleasant, with no harshness or excessive bitterness. Finally, the finish should be clean and lingering, leaving a lasting impression. These criteria help to distinguish the best gins from the merely good.

The Best Gin in the World: Contenders and Winners

Several gins have claimed the title of the best gin in the world at various competitions and awards. Monkey 47, a German gin with 47 botanicals, has garnered acclaim for its extraordinary complexity and depth of flavor. Its combination of traditional and exotic ingredients creates a rich, multilayered profile that sets it apart. Another notable contender is The Botanist, an Islay dry gin from Scotland. It features 22 hand-foraged local botanicals, resulting in a gin that is both sophisticated and deeply connected to its place of origin.

Gin Cocktails: Elevating the Experience

A great gin is the cornerstone of many classic cocktails, each of which showcases the spirit in different ways. The Martini, with its elegance and simplicity, highlights the purity and balance of a fine gin. A well-made Negroni, with its bold, bitter-sweet profile, allows the gin’s botanicals to shine through. The Gin and Tonic, a timeless favorite, relies on a quality gin to create a refreshing and satisfying drink. The versatility of gin in cocktails underscores its enduring appeal and the importance of choosing a high-quality product.

Innovations in Gin Production

Innovation in gin production continues to push the boundaries of what is possible. Vacuum distillation, for example, allows for the extraction of delicate flavors at lower temperatures, preserving the integrity of heat-sensitive botanicals. This technique results in gins with brighter, more vibrant flavors. Additionally, the use of unusual botanicals, such as seaweed, tea, and even insects, has expanded the flavor palette available to distillers. These innovations contribute to the ongoing evolution of gin, ensuring that the search for the best gin in the world is a dynamic and exciting journey.

Sustainability and Ethical Practices in Gin Production

As consumers become more environmentally conscious, sustainability and ethical practices in gin production have gained importance. Many distilleries are adopting sustainable practices, such as sourcing botanicals from organic farms, using renewable energy, and implementing water-saving technologies. Some, like Arbikie Distillery in Scotland, even produce “field-to-bottle” gins, where every step of the production process is managed on-site, ensuring complete traceability and minimal environmental impact. These efforts not only contribute to the quality of the gin but also to the preservation of the environment.

The Future of Gin: Trends and Predictions

The future of gin looks bright, with several trends set to shape the industry in the coming years. One notable trend is the increasing popularity of flavored gins, which offer a wide range of taste experiences beyond the traditional juniper profile. Additionally, low-alcohol and alcohol-free gins are gaining traction, catering to health-conscious consumers and those seeking a more moderate drinking experience. The rise of personalized gins, where consumers can customize their own botanical blends, is also an exciting development. These trends reflect the spirit of innovation and adaptability that has always been at the heart of the gin industry.

Conclusion: The Quest for the Best Gin in the World

The quest for the best gin in the world is a journey that encompasses history, tradition, innovation, and personal preference. Whether you favor the classic, juniper-forward profile of a London Dry Gin or the bold, experimental flavors of a contemporary craft gin, there is a gin out there that can claim the title of the best—at least in your own glass. The diversity of gins available today means that there is always something new to discover and appreciate. As distillers continue to push the boundaries of what gin can be, the search for the best gin in the world remains an exciting and ever-evolving adventure.



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