All this talk of gin has gotten me wondering what really sets one gin brand apart from another. Of course, it’s the process (kinda, sorta), but ultimately it boils down to what’s in the mix for each brand of gin. All gin tastes more or less of juniper, though some boutique brands of gin seem to be favoring it less these days. The remaining gin brand recipes are often closely guarded secrets, but with a little work and some tasting you can figure out what you like, and what you don’t. Here’s a brief guide to get you started discovering the brands of gin.
Tanqueray -- One of the biggest brands, and one with a secret recipe. Although they do reveal that the main botanicals used are juniper, angelica, and coriander, which gives Tanq (as it’s sometimes called) a classic gin flavor profile with a fairly pronounced juniper core.
Tanqueray No. 10 is an attempt at a more complex and intense gin that relies less on juniper and more on other notes. It’s a richer gin as well, with a fairly dense, creamy texture.
Tanqueray Rangpur Gin is a unique gin, strongly flavored with the intense flavor of rangpur limes accented with ginger and bay leaves, which produces a brisk, refreshing gin.
Bombay Original London Dry Gin -- Blended with eight botanicals using a recipe that dates back to 1761. The flavor profile is firm and strong with distinct notes of coriander, citrus, and juniper.
Bombay Sapphire -- A premium gin that uses 10 botanicals (almonds, grains of paradise, cubeb berries, licorice, lemon peel, juniper berries, orris root, angelica root, coriander, and cassia bark) to produce an elegant gin with layered, subtle flavors and aromas.
Gordon’s Gin -- The recipe for Gordon’s gin contains juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root, and one other botanical. The blend is a proprietary secret known only to 11 people and has been secret and unchanged for more than 250 years. The profile of Gordon’s is rather spicy, with minty undertones to the licorice and juniper flavors.
Plymouth -- With 7 botanicals and a touch of sugar, Plymouth is a distinctly different gin. The reliance on root botanicals here gives this Gin a mellow, earthy undertone that highlights the bright juniper and spice tones.
Boodles British Gin -- A classic old-school gin that comes bottled at a higher-than-average 90 proof. The flavors and aromas are purely gin, juniper and coriander ruling the roost with a soft citrus background tone.
Hendrick’s Gin -- One of the new breed of gins that is going after a balanced, elegant style. The process of basket infusion allows Hendrick’s to include such gentle elements as cucumber and rose petal to play a prominent role in the aromatic profile. Subtle, smooth and complex pretty much captures the spirit of Hendrick’s.
Booth’s Gin -- Another 90 proof gin with a secret recipe. In fact, Booth's still uses the same recipe that was invented by Felix Booth. This is a higher end gin known for its purity of flavor.
Beefeater Gin -- Beefeater has a distinct orange flavor that complements the prominent juniper tones and sets this gin apart. Additions of angelica seed and lemon peel add an underlying freshness to the flavor.
Bluecoat American Dry Gin -- A new brand of American gin that is bucking the trends and opting for a really intense flavor profile. It’s very intense and complex, with a strong orange peel element and really spicy undertones.
Martin Miller’s Gin -- A super premium made in England and then blended in Iceland! The purity of the Icelandic water is supposedly behind the gentle, almost sweet, character of this well-balanced gin that offers a classic array of botanicals supporting the core flavor of juniper.
CapRock Organic Gin -- A whole new breed of gin, distilled in a base spirit made with organic Jonathan and Braeburn apples. 12 different botanicals are used in the distillation process, the most of any gin on the market. While I have yet to try CapRock, it sure sounds interesting and what I have heard has only made me more determined to track down a bottle!
Junípero -- Produced by Anchor Distilling Company, Junípero is a small-batch gin made with a copper pot still. As the name implies this is a juniper lover’s Gin, with bracing notes of juniper as well as clear supporting roles played by citrus and spice (though the recipe remains a secret).
Genevieve -- Also produced by the Anchor Distilling Company, Genevieve is a small-batch gin made using a copper pot still, but in this case recreating the classic Genever-style flavor profile. This is an intense product that combines the flavors of botanicals and juniper with the rawness of pot-distilled spirits. Not for beginners, shall we say, and certainly not for a martini. Don’t take my word for that -- Anchor says so!