The top 5 craft gins to drink right now
How do you pick a gin? The prettiest bottle? The best value for money? The most expensive? With so many different options available (there are now 350+ distilleries in the UK), it can be hard to know where to start.
We’ve enlisted the help of Michael Dunnett-Stone, founder of Craftr.co.uk, the craft spirit marketplace, to help. From traditional to modern, these are his top five.
Copperfield Vol.1, Surrey Copper Distillery
Let’s start with a traditional gin. You can tell a lot about a distillery and its products from the people behind it. In the case of Surrey Copper Distillery, the husband and wife founders are nothing short of experts – true distilling nerds.
One half of the pair, Prof. Katherine Smart, has a doctorate in Brewing and Distilling, has lectured at both Oxford and Cambridge universities and was previously global head brewer at a multinational beverage maker. The other half has a PhD in biochemistry, is a qualified distiller and previously provided consultancy services to distillers and breweries.
Copperfield vol. 1, their flagship gin, is a supremely high-quality spirit – rich with juniper and exceptionally smooth. It is handcrafted in small batches in a traditional copper pot, and its botanicals (Orris Root, Angelica, Liquorice, Coriander, Lemon Peel) are straight from the 1757 edition of the original distilling book, ‘The Complete Distiller’ – about as traditional as it’s possible to get. Katherine stumbled across this original recipe when building her distilling library, and resurrected it. You can even see the original 18th century scribbles on the inside of the bottle label.
Serve with lemon juice, half a teaspoon of sugar, mint leaves and light tonic for a perfect Mint Julep.
Shop online here: craftr.co.uk/products/copperfield-gin-vol-1
A modern example of a classic, dry gin, Dartmouth Gin burst onto the scene 18 months ago – and has been scooping up industry awards left, right and centre ever since.
Having made a name for themselves making fine English wine, Lance and Caroline Whitehead turned their attention to the spirit that was Lance’s drink of choice during his time in the RAF. They sourced a beautiful still from Germany, local water from their estate and botanicals from around the world. The resulting flavour of Dartmouth gin is relatively complex, with botanicals ranging from aromatic cubeb berries to Scotch pine. The overriding sense is that of a well-made classic – smooth and full-flavoured.
Ideal for a G&T. No messing.
Shop online here: craftr.co.uk/products/dartmouth-gin
Duck & Crutch Kensington Dry Gin
Kensington Dry Gin – it’s got a ring to it. But it’s not to be confused with all the other London dry gins out there. George is a self-taught distiller and didn’t have access to the typical recommendations when creating the recipe. As such, it’s not so much a typical gin with a few botanical adaptations, but the result of proper ‘trial and error’ distilling.
Beyond the warm juniper taste, there are undertones of Darjeeling tea, vanilla pods, nutmeg and citrus flavours.
Equally distinctive is the beautiful bottle that Hollie has designed for their gin. Kensington grandeur at its finest, and a delightful addition to any drinks cabinet.
Shop online here: craftr.co.uk/products/duck-and-crutch-gin
Rosemullion Summer Gin
This one is for fans of flavoursome and fruity gin. Rosemullion’s offering is a fresh, light spirit with a pink hue and a citrus kick. The two former industrial chemists who founded Rosemullion created the distinctive flavour by fermenting their own base spirit using Cornish rainwater, and blending it with local, seasonal fruit.
Mix with rose liqueur, hibiscus syrup and lemon for a fantastic summer julep.
Shop online here: craftr.co.uk/products/rosemullion-summer-gin
Hills & Harbour Distilled Cocktail
Here’s something completely different. The experimental folk up at Crafty Distillery in Galloway have created what they call a ‘distilled cocktail’ – a gin-based spirit where each batch is distilled with a “wheelbarrow load” of fresh fruit. Literally.
To make each batch, they combine their brilliant Hills & Harbour gin with a full wheelbarrow of smoked pineapple and burnt oranges to create a 40% ABV sweet spirit that can be turned bitter, balanced or sweet simply by adding tonic, soda or lemonade respectively.
Shop online here: craftr.co.uk/products/smokey-and-citrus-distilled-cocktail