Choosing the best gin for gin and tonic is a tough decision... With so many distilleries and garnish options, we've spoken to the experts for their advice!
Who doesn’t love an ice cold G&T after a long week? Once regarded as a tipple that only your grandparents would choose, gin has become the spirit to drink.
For the real gin fanatics there are plenty of gin themed excursions and trips, whether you want to sip gin aboard a train, check in to the gin hotel or take part in what will probably be the poshest gin-themed pub crawl around, the options are endless.
There’s been a barrage of positive gin news recently. It’s low in cals, and and juniper, the main botanical in gin, is full of anti-oxidants which can help with bloating and help your skin look healthier. A G&T can even help with cure hay fever – do you really need any more convincing?
Now you can even get your favourite pre-mixed G&T in a can – perfect for stylish train bevys, or summer picnics.
Gordon’s have delighted gin fans across the globe with their latest addition – premium pink gin in a can for a mere £1.80. For now, you can’t buy the new treat everywhere – as it’s only on sale in Morrisons, Asda, Co-op and Tesco.
Portobello Road Gin, the brains behind The Distillery – where you can try your hand at making your own gin, dine on delicious tapas and even sleep in a sumptuous gin-themed hotel room – also have their own super-fancy gin in a can – for the discerning drinkers on the go.
But if you’re making your own, which is the very best gin? And what’s the ultimate G&T pairing? We consulted the experts to find out…
Meet our Gin Experts…
As Chair of the World Drinks Awards, Felicity knows her gin, especially when it comes to the different brands. Felicity’s says the best gin for beginners is Bombay Sapphire, because its flavours are more delicate – “the botanicals are placed in a basket above the alcohol rather than boiled in it.” Once you’ve mastered this she recommends any of the gold, silver or bronze winners which can be found at The World Gin Awards website.
Leon Dalloway is a contributor for BBC Good Food and founder of the award-winning Gin Journey. Leon’s breath of gin knowledge covers everything from its history to where to find the most ‘banging’ gin bars across the country. Leon’s top tip is to try your gin with a dash of water – “use a max of equal parts. This allows you to understand what is the predominant flavour profile.” Leon can be found posting all things gin-related on the Gin Boss Twitter and Instagram.
What is the best gin for gin and tonic?
2016 was declared the year of gin, with around 40 million bottles sold. Since, enthusiasts everywhere have been keen to find the best value bottle. But with so many different varieties available, and new distilleries popping up all the time, it can be hard to know which is the best gin (but you sure can have fun finding out!)
The World Gin Awards 2017 welcomed some of the year’s best gins.
The awards saw a 45 per cent increase in the number of entries, so the competition was tough. But while Sweden’s Hernö Gin took the top spot as the World’s Best Gin for 2017, the UK had some strong entries. The UK’s Bullards Norwich Dry Gin took the title of best London Dry, while Ableforth’s Bathtub Gin Navy-Strength was named best Compound Gin – these varieties are made without distilling the botanicals. Instead, fresh botanicals are infused or essences are used.
Interestingly, the best gin does not neccessarily come at a higher price. At the International Spirits Challenge (ISP), Aldi’s own brand gin, which costs just £9.97, beat the likes of Hendrick’s (£28) and Tanqueray Rangpur (£18) in a blind taste test. It’s even less than Sainsbury’s basic gin (£10.75)! Drinks expert Jilly Goolden declared Aldi’s gin as both ‘cheap’ and ‘classy’. Can’t argue with that combo…
Which garnish is best for a G&T?
All gins must use juniper and start as a neutral spirit to be classed as a gin when made in the EU. The rest of the botanicals vary considerably from bottle to bottle. When choosing what gin to buy, Leon suggests you look on the label to see the botanical mix of the gin, the ABV (Alcohol By Volume) and where it is from. This can help you decide what the best garnish is to compliment the gin you have chosen.
Leon says: “Cucumber works well with cucumber lead gins and citrus belongs in a lot of gins on the market. Lime is great in some yet is a native of South America so only made it’s way into the G&T relatively recently where as lemon is European and has featured for a lot longer.”
What is the ideal tonic water for the best gin and tonic?
Think carefully about your tonic if you want the best end result. Felicity said: “The quality of the tonic water is important – don’t skimp on this – it’s worth paying more for the best.”
Leon highly recommends Fever-Tree. He says: “They’re natural and they have a great range of expressions.” Other tonic brands that come highly commended are Q Tonic, Fentimans and 1724. If you don’t fancy tonic with your gin Leon has some other suggestions. “I find a good cloudy apple juice is incredible with gin, people are often surprised when I mention that.
“A splash of cranberry with that makes gin and crapple – delicious. Or a sparkling grapefruit drink like Ting is tasty as too.”
Leon recommends using one part gin to two parts tonic (or apple juice, ting, whatever your preference!)
What are the best gin glasses for gin and tonic?
Leon loves super tall glasses because the ice doesn’t melt as quickly, but he says balloon glasses are better for spreading aromas. These ‘balloon glasses’ originate from the basque region in northern Spain and are called the ‘Copa de Balon’.
Similar in shape to a red wine glass, the Copa de Balon has a bulbous structure which sits on a stem. Gin connoisseurs and owners of the The Distillery, aka the Gin Hotel, Portobello Road Gin, explained how to get the perfect ‘Copa serve’: “Where the ‘copa serve’ really comes into it’s own though, is in the way that it’s garnished – utilising a variety of vegetables, spices and natural botanicals, pretty much anything goes – so long as they complement the flavour profile of the various botanicals in each gin and enhance the drink on the nose.”
Leon says regardless of the glass it is essential to fill it as full as possible with ice. He said: “This will mean your drink takes longer to dilute. Don’t serve me a puddle. Serve me the most crisp G&T you can fathom.” We couldn’t have said it better!
What are the best gin cocktails?
If you want something a little different to your classic G&T why not opt for a gin based cocktail. Leon recommends the following…
A classic martini is comprised of five parts gin and one part dry martini. Will you take it as James Bond does, shaken and not stirred?
The Tom Collins
This is a lovely refreshing tipple. Best served over ice with four parts carbonated water, three parts gin, two parts lemon juice and one part sugar syrup. We’ll take three please…
This is Felicity’s favourite and perfect for those that like it strong! It is made of one part gin, one part Campari and one part sweet vermouth, giving it that distinctive bittersweet taste. For a twist on this one you might like the Negroni Spumante, it includes prosecco an pink grapefruit to garnish.
The French 75
This classy cocktail combines one part gin, with half parts of lemon juice and sugar syrup, topped up with champagne. This cocktail is a little like a Tom Collins, but with an extra boozy boost. We approve.
Don’t be afraid to try your gin straight. Simply served over ice, gin is equally as tasty.
If you’re still looking for ginspiration, check out our round-up of the latest gin launches, from glitter gin to Unicorn Tears gin…
Lidl’s Rhubarb & Ginger Gin is back in stock!
The budget supermarket has re-launched its award-winning gin, to the delight of many people.
Grab the Rhubarb & Ginger gin for just £11.99 for an exciting take on your favourite spirit.
Lidl’s spirit consultant Tristan Stephenson recommends it mixed with ginger beer for something a little different!
Waitrose has become the first UK supermarket to stock the gin, which contains Japanese botanicals cherry blossom, cherry leaves, green tea, refined green tea, sancho Japanese pepper and yuzu fruit, and are selling it at £30 for a 70cl bottle.
As Waitrose’s Spirits Buyer, John Vine puts it, “Japanese whisky once raised eyebrows but now wins awards and sits happily alongside established Scottish brands in the UK. We are confident that Roku will be popular with gin fans and it’s just the tonic for showing off to guests.”
According to Waitrose, ‘Each botanical has been harvested at the peak of it’s season to extract the best flavour, and distilled to fully embody the blessings of nature.
Chapel Down Gin
Chapel Down is the Kent distillery famous for having reportedly provided cases of their sparkling rosé for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding, and also for potentially being Meghan and Harry’s choice too.
Now, they are making gin, which they describe as “a highly aromatic gin from distilled Bacchus grapes with intense aromas of citrus peel, juniper and freshly cut grass leading to an early palate dominated by ripe citrus fruit with a herbal finish.”
Sounds delicious to us, and it has the royal seal of approval!
This gin from master distiller Jake Burger pays homage to a unique Mexican distilling process.
The limited edition Director’s Cut No:3 Pechuga Gin is made by suspending a raw turkey or chicken breast in the still and cooking it slowly.
The vapours add a subtle yet distinct flavour to the gin.
Jake redestilled Portobello Road Gins signature 171 blend with organic turkey breast and 13 different botanicals including apples, pears, plums, currants and nutmeg.
It will be available to purchase from 1 November from The Distillery and costs £35 a bottle.
Durham Damson Blackberry and Ginger Gin
Could this gin get any more autumnal?
Part of the Durham Distillery’s 2017 winter release it mixes blackberry juice with blended damson and fresh ginger.
Try mixing it with some Prosecco and top with frozen berries or served simply with a bitter lemonade and garnished with lemon and fresh Rosemary.
Buy it now from Durham Distillery for £23
Chocolate Orange Gin
Love gin and those infamous Terry’s Chocolate Oranges?
This could be the perfect gin for you! Bought to you by That Boutique – Y Gin Company this gin is made using a mix of classic botanicals, orange peel and cocoa nibs. Yum!
Buy now from Amazon for £33.95
That Boutique – Y Gin Company have lots of other quirky flavours including roasted pineapple and cherry! Why not grab their tasting set to see which one is your favourite?
Glitter Covered Gin Bottles
If you care as much about how your gin looks as it tastes, Bottle Bling have got you covered.
Especially if you go weak at the knees for anything glittery, you need to get your hands on one of these.
The small, independent business based in Lancashire is on hand to add sparkle to all your favourite tipples.
The bottles of gin cost between £29.99 and £48.99.
Also on offer is Aperol, Prosecco and Champagne!
A bottle like this would make a great gift and celebrities including Cheryl Tweedy are said to love them!
What are you waiting for?
Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Gin
Marshmallows and gin!? Yes please!
The clever people at nakedmarshmallow.co.uk have created a premium vanilla bean marshmallow gin.
It costs £32 but is currently out of stock!
Gordon’s Pink Gin
You know when you need you G&T to look just that little bit more extra?
That is when you need this pink gin!
Buy now from Tesco for £16.50
Sweet Potato Gin
You heard it right – this gin is made from sweet potatoes grown in North Carolina and triple-distilled in the UK.
The Sweet Potato Spirit Company also offer rum and liqueurs made from sweet potatoes.
If you are as intrigued as us, it can be yours for £28.95.
Buy it from Master of Malt