A clear, neutral grain spirit, gin is rarely drunk neat and is distilled with botanicals, citrus fruits and fragrant herbs to develop its unique flavour profile and aromatics.
Versatile and clean, gin contains the fewest congeners (the chemicals that cause a hangover) of all the premium spirits – and a new generation of artisan distillers is bringing gin back to the cocktail darling it used to be in the 1920s.
The most famous way to enjoy a gin cocktail is the dry martini, and The Dorchester has reintroduced The Dorchester Old Tom (£65, 70cl, www.shop.dorchestercollection.com) to the UK market. Herbal and muscular, juniper, coriander, angelica, orris, cassia bark and cardamom headline this small batch gin with prominent vapours. Presented in a wax sealed bottle with a hand signed label and bespoke batch number, it’s available at the bar or online.
Another new release, The King of Soho London Dry Gin (£31.95, 70cl, www.thewhiskyexchange.com) is dressed in a peacock blue bottle with a velvet clad figure tipping its hat to Soho’s rich jazz history.
A dozen botanicals have been selected to merge sweetness with earthiness, spice with citrus and the warm, rounded mouthfeel is enhanced by grapefruit peel and cracked pepper.
The iconic blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin (£21.70, 70cl, Tesco) is consumed in vast volumes thanks to its fresh, smooth palate which always tastes so refreshingly good in a G&T.
Ten botanicals pass through a delicate distillation process called vapour infusion and the result is a gin that’s lighter than other London Dry styles, with a soft, delicate, uplifting taste with appealing aromatics on the finish.
More potent and exotic with loads of spice, juniper, cumin and cardamom, Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin (£30, www.harveynichols.com) - pronounced o-peer - is a London Dry Gin with a spicy, rich, sweetish palate and lingering herby, peppered finish that lends itself to a gin-based bloody Mary, otherwise known as a red snapper. The botanicals and spice stand up really well to the tomato juice and make a pleasant change to vodka.
The ornate jewel-cut bottle of Bloom London Dry Gin (£28.30, 70cl, Waitrose) is equally pleasing on the eye but this delicate infusion will seduce the taste buds with attractive camomile, pomelo and honeysuckle notes alongside other pleasurable botanicals. A light, floral gin that’s inspired by the female distiller’s English country garden, serve Bloom with tonic and a few strawberries.
Further afield and based on a formula designed to capture ‘the essence of an epicure’s Mediterranean’, Gin Mare (£32.60, 70cl, Waitrose) is a top-notch Spanish gin from a small village outside Barcelona. Defined by four key botanicals sourced from Mediterranean countries, there’s arbequina olive from Spain, thyme from Greece, basil from Italy, and rosemary from Turkey. Bursting with freshness, the appealing aromatics of rosemary and basil are balanced by a tang of tomato plants and olives. Add a sprig of rosemary to a large wine glass, top with tonic, and it’s the closest thing to drinking that well-earned holiday G&T...