Gin is in like never before. According to data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the category is poised to cross the billion dollar mark in annual sales for the first time. A big part of that growth is the emergence of craft producers who have helped broaden conceptions about what the spirit can be and how it ought to taste. Yes, juniper is a required ingredient. But so-called ‘New World’ gins use the botanical merely as a starting point—to inform a liquid that demonstrates rich and complex herbal curiosities.
Even those that hold true to the traditional London Dry style (typically more astringent and juniper-forward) are finding ways to mine unexpected flavors and attract new generations of drinkers. You see it with barrel-aged expressions, and in the re-popularization of the sloe gin subcategory.
The noteworthy examples below are worth seeking out this summer. They offer the sort of vibrancy that will work wonders in refreshing warm-weather arrangements. Or just pour them over ice; sip, savor and repeat.
When you think of gin provenance Los Angeles might not be the first place that pops into your mind. But that’s just a lack of imagination on your part. Because this craft offering is a full-flavored beauty, chockfull of 29 separate botanicals—some of which are local to Southern California. Fresh floral aromas contrast against notes of dark chocolate and citrus zest in a soft and sublime finish.
Vale Fox — Tod & Vixen’s Dry Gin 1651 ($48)
Built by bartenders for bartenders, this is a hefty gin that’ll will shine through in elaborate cocktail creations. Rooibos plays a part in keep things herbaceous and slightly earthy, like a sophisticated tea for tipples.
The London No. 1 — Sherry Cask Aged Gin ($70)
As you might have surmised from the name, this one spends time in casks that once held Spanish fortified wine. The sherry in question is Tio Pepe—the world’s most popular fino variety. Three months of slumber in Jerez dilutes the juniper notes at the liquid’s core with hints of rich, red fruit. A sensational one to sip neat. After debuting in the UK late last year, it is slated to hit American shelves this autumn.
The London purveyor that helped revolutionize the modern gin revival is now looking to make sloe hip again. Its name and vibrant red hue are owed to the sour fruit of blackthorn shrub. But this one balances out tartness with subtle hints of marzipan and candied cherries. As such, it will surely find favor amongst aspiring mixologists rather than just collecting dust on your grandmother’s liquor cabinet.
Bobby’s — Schiedam Dry Gin ($44)
Bobby’s is born in the Dutch city of Schiedam, historically associated with gin’s spiritual forbearer—genever. But this Indonesian-inspired expression shows that Holland isn’t just interested in the drink’s past. They are taking an active role in driving the category into the future. With a kiss of fennel, cubeb pepper and lemongrass, this lends the palate a food-friendly sort of spiciness.
A barrel-aged gin like no other. This French liquid sits in five separate sorts of word before bottling. Acacia, Mulberry, Cherry, Chestnut, and Limousin Oak all take turns imbuing the spirit with dry, elegant threads of tannins—and a gentle hay-like hue—during its five month maturation.
St. George Spirits — Dry Rye Reposado Gin ($46)
Is it a rye for gin drinkers, or a gin for rye drinkers? Yes. This unique expression allows you to split the difference with a spirit full of barrel spice as well as botanicals. There’s also a strong cereal-grain component to the sip making it sturdy enough to split the difference between manhattan and martini during cocktail hour.
Uncle Val’s — Peppered Gin ($38)
Black peppercorn and grilled bell pepper are both vying for attention here. A tongue-tingling spice dominates the initial sip before juniper emerges mid-palate. In an elongated finish you return to a hint of heat and umami. Your dirty martini game just got called up to the Big Leagues.