A Guide to Gin Brands

How to tell your Booth's from your Boodles

 


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.
Cocktail
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!

Mentioned in this article

Comments

  • Snooth User: jtw789
    36217 1

    my favorite gin is Deaths Door made in wisconsin
    great gin

    Oct 19, 2010 at 2:15 PM


  • Snooth User: kcsandy
    136038 1

    I'm a Sapphire fan myself, but this article makes me want to explore a little. Any suggestions where to begin - i.e. which of these might turn a Sapphire fan on or off?

    Oct 19, 2010 at 2:39 PM


  • Snooth User: Maxrob
    146034 3

    No description of Beefeater???

    Oct 19, 2010 at 2:50 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 208,847

    It's up there, between Booth's and Bluecoat.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 3:12 PM


  • Where is my Citadelle?! The lovely French gin!

    Oct 19, 2010 at 3:24 PM


  • Snooth User: mlibby7
    79883 1

    Was always a Tanqueray (not 10 or Rangpur) user until I discovered Martin Miller's. Miller's makes a delicious Gin & Tonic (my drink of choice), but not a very good Martini (too sweet).

    Oct 19, 2010 at 3:37 PM


  • Snooth User: lumberman
    175168 7

    Beefeater is unique in that it is good in a gin and tonic and it is good in a Martini. I love Bombay Saphire in a Martini because it is so smooth but it gets over powered by tonic water in a gin and tonic. Hendricks is very good in gin and tonic as well, but I have never tried it in a Martini.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 3:46 PM


  • I am a Sapphire enthusiast myself, but have tried Hendricks as it is a favorite of a friend. It does make a very nice martini - plus they sell it at Trader Joe's for a very nice price.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 4:01 PM


  • Snooth User: MGMcGee
    125220 1

    Aviation Gin out of Portland, OR, one of those little crafty joints. Not sure how far and wide they sell but it makes a great G&T. Too much orange peel for me in a martini, though. I like Hendricks or good ol' Saphire in my Martinis

    Oct 19, 2010 at 4:30 PM


  • I've been a Boodles fan since the late 1970s -- hard to find anymore in stores or at bars/restaurants, sad to say!

    Oct 19, 2010 at 4:42 PM


  • Snooth User: vinodoc
    230507 192

    I second the recommendation for Citadelle. They also make a great cognac. I also love a locally made gin called North Shore (located north of Chicago).

    Oct 19, 2010 at 4:48 PM


  • Snooth User: stevebro3
    242446 10

    I totally agree with you on the Bluecoat. My other favorites as top shelf gins are:
    1. zuidam
    2. G'Vine (the green label)
    3. Magellan
    4. Oxley
    You will not be unhappy to try any of these. Stephen
    Also 2nd the vote on North Shore (they have a couple) and Deaths Door.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 5:00 PM


  • Snooth User: causasui
    149022 5

    old raj??

    Oct 19, 2010 at 5:32 PM


  • Boomsma??

    Oct 19, 2010 at 5:48 PM


  • I also enjoy Bombay Sapphire but for a change of pace I have found the Tanqueray Rangpur Gin to be very interesting on a hot day.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 6:27 PM


  • Snooth User: gwblas
    135612 4

    I drink Bombay Sapphire Gin and Dripping Springs Texas Vodka as my drinks of choice. No "brown water". A GT is my favorite summer time mixed drink by far. Which of the gins mentioned would you recommend for a on-the-rocks gin drinker. I am thinking maybe Boodles. Thanks in advance for your opinion..,

    Oct 19, 2010 at 6:29 PM


  • Snooth User: shotgun
    169214 1

    I love a dry Hendricks martini.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 6:44 PM


  • Love the Cap Rock Gin....lavender....yessss...makes for a foral, exotic style GT....Old Raj too....for when you need the heavy hand of Raj on your shoulder....

    Oct 19, 2010 at 6:46 PM


  • Snooth User: zbog
    Hand of Snooth
    192230 4

    The list is not complete without Corsair GIN, possibly the best US produced Gin!

    Oct 19, 2010 at 7:08 PM


  • Snooth User: zbog
    Hand of Snooth
    192230 4

    And another thing..... be on the lookout for Finch's Gin coming out later this year!

    Oct 19, 2010 at 7:09 PM


  • Snooth User: glheca
    179914 6

    Tanqueray 10 for the perfect G&T
    Everyday Martini - Beefeaters and Boissiere extra Dry - 2:1
    Special Occasion Martini - Hendrick's and Dolin Blanc - 1:1

    Oct 19, 2010 at 7:10 PM


  • Snooth User: Yelmala
    108050 11

    You did not mention Indigo, the Spanish gin. It's a winner from sipping to martinis.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 7:57 PM


  • Yay! You used my favorite cocktail recipe as your example recipe! One quibble: a cherry (especially one of those nasty, waxy, maraschino cherries) plopped into the drink seems like it would totally spoil its delicate, complex flavor profile. I've always seen it made and garnished with a twist of lemon rind, rubbed once around the lip of the cocktail glass sometimes for an added touch of flavor. Just my two cents.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 8:23 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 208,847

    You know I went back and forth with this for quite awhile. Most of the recipes I've seen have included the cherry, while I have seen the lemon rind as well. I'm going to go change it based on this limited real world consensus!

    Oct 19, 2010 at 8:27 PM


  • Snooth User: mad322
    366876 2

    I switched from Tanqueray to Bombay Sapphire.I like Bootles,too. Anyone ever true Blue Gin. Keep it in the freezer and it gets viscous. It is wonderful, but packs a punch.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 8:46 PM


  • Snooth User: ambersea
    433198 40

    It doesn't get any better than Bombay Sapphire! If I just wanted alcohol, I'd drink vodka, but the wonderful aromatics in Sapphire have me hooked. I also keerp mine in the freezer. Perfect... just pour. Forget the vermouth... an insult to a great gin!!!

    Oct 19, 2010 at 9:25 PM


  • Snooth User: MykePagan
    166600 3

    Sunday night I was starring at the bottle of Saint Germain that I had gotten on a whim months ago and thinking: This would really mix well with GIN. So I experimented for a few small shakers full and came up with this recipe:

    3 ounces Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire 'cause it's what I had on hand)
    3/4 ounce Saint Germain (it's very flowery and sweet so you don't need much)
    squeeze a wedge of lemon into the shaker
    Shake about as long as you'd shake a martini
    Pour into a martini glass, garnish with a lemon twist

    Take my word for this: It works VERY well. The flowery nature of the Saint Germain blends well with the botanicals in the gin and the lemon squeeze cuts the sweetness of the overall mixture.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 9:28 PM


  • Snooth User: obama
    430125 1

    North Shore is tops on my list as well; I love it!

    Oct 19, 2010 at 9:31 PM


  • Snooth User: StenPh
    424567 1

    I have tried many of the brands mentioned above. At the end of the day, for a perfect traditional Dry Martini, can't help it guys, but it's Gordon's that does it.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 9:41 PM


  • Anyone ever try tangueray malacca when it was around? (A long time ago)

    Oct 19, 2010 at 9:44 PM


  • Snooth User: LRichard
    616123 1

    I have recently developed a fondness for Beefeater. It's very smooth. I think it would make a nice introduction to gin for vodka drinkers.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 9:47 PM


  • Snooth User: kwin
    370989 1

    For me Gordons has it hands down for the best G&T... try adding a splash or two of Angostura bitters to take it to another level... try pink, you'll like it!

    Oct 19, 2010 at 10:38 PM


  • Snooth User: dscsf
    106504 21

    Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, and Hendricks!

    Oct 19, 2010 at 11:03 PM


  • Nothing better than a gin drink. Love Boodles and the New Amsterdam Gins.

    Oct 19, 2010 at 11:14 PM


  • Snooth User: phr88
    215037 51

    You left out Citadelle and Magellan 2 of my favorites.
    Also absent are the Dutch and German Gins?

    Oct 19, 2010 at 11:25 PM


  • I am a big fan of Leopold American Gin.
    Give it a try!

    Oct 20, 2010 at 1:18 AM


  • Snooth User: wineace
    118752 57

    Old Raj is a unique experience in Gin and without question the best of any Gin I have ever tasted. It is expensive but well worth it. Comes in 2 different proofs, I like the higher one it is more distinctive.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 1:27 AM


  • Snooth User: tnankie
    563598 9

    tanq 10 for me
    partner prefers ordinary tanq or bombay.

    Mind you I like my drinks (very) short whereas she drinks hers a fair bit longer.

    We did an experiment with bombay and tanq 10.

    started off making a G&T without the T, took a sip of each, we both preferred the #10. added a splash of T. tried them both again...again both preferred the #10. went to (roughly) 1:2 G:T and it switched to both preferring the bombay....went to full G&T mix roughly 1:4 and they were more or less indistinguishable.

    Lesson I learnt...don't waste good gin in a long G&T. sweetness of bombay works very well in a G&T. Fresh green herby botanicals of #10 get lost in tonic.

    I have been thinking about something with soda water, #10 and a little lime and possibly mint.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 2:00 AM


  • Hendricks served with lots of ice cubes and some slices of cucumber is by bar the best G&T I've ever tried!

    Oct 20, 2010 at 3:19 AM


  • Snooth User: nutty
    55949 1

    No mention of Sacred Gin!? Fairly new to the market but already a favourite in Dukes bar in Mayfair where Ian Fleming used to drink his Martinis.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 4:12 AM


  • Snooth User: wel164
    442674 1

    Hendricks, CapRock, and Old Raj are some of the best out there, but I do like Tanqueray in my gin and tonic. Nobody has mentioned No. 209, a gin out of San Francisco. Very nice.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 4:16 AM


  • Blackwoods Gin is my total favourite..Blackwood's Vintage Dry Gin is truly unique, and 2006 even topped our previous vintage in 2005. Distilled with sustainably-sourced rare wild botanicals that are hand-gathered during the short, and rather foggy, summer of 2006 in Shetland.


    I like this only with ice and can really recommend it!!

    Oct 20, 2010 at 4:30 AM


  • Plymouth with lots of ice, two slices of lime with a little zest, top up with tonic..........perfect G&T

    Oct 20, 2010 at 5:55 AM


  • Old Raj is the most intense gin experience I have found.

    But for a cold, crisp martini nothing beats Tanq 10.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 7:46 AM


  • Snooth User: jsnowie
    314733 1

    Anyone had New Amsterdam Straight Gin? It has a very strong, and very defined flavor that I don't think you get int the dry (or distilled) gins.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 9:45 AM


  • Snooth User: wineguy04
    262222 3

    Malacca was probably the first true sipping gin I ever had. When it began to disappear I bought several bottles and finished the last one off over a year ago. Rangpur is a very weak attempt at a Malacca type gin. G-vine and Magellan are my tops but I do like that American Bluecoat. Gin Martinis rule!

    Oct 20, 2010 at 10:18 AM


  • Snooth User: Dudell
    84489 4

    BULLDOG Gin is definitely my favorite. It's an incredible martini, great on the rocks and in gin & tonics... but also the best gin for mixology.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM


  • Snooth User: Spinozza
    235506 1

    "The London No1" brings gin to another level

    Oct 20, 2010 at 11:20 AM


  • Snooth User: Ripple
    41735 1

    Junipero is my favorite, with Hendricks a close second. Looks like I have some new ones to try.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 12:12 PM


  • Snooth User: zaniac
    493215 30

    I just spent 5 days hiking in the north woods. We capped off each day with a couple of martinis made from Hendrick's Gin. Until then, I was a devout Tanqueray fan, and still am for my gin and tonic fix. But I really found the complex, spicy notes of Hendrick's particularly pleasing in a cabin in the woods with a nip in the air and a fire in the hearth!

    Oct 20, 2010 at 12:41 PM


  • Snooth User: Kurtman
    616549 1

    Boomsma is a fantastic Genever Gin

    Oct 20, 2010 at 12:43 PM


  • I agree with Kurtman on the Boomsma...love it! Another good one to try is
    Cidadelle. It's produced in a French cognac distillery with botanicals from all over the world. Fantastic!!

    Oct 20, 2010 at 1:07 PM


  • Don't particularly care for gin, but sold a lot of Seagrams Gin in a store I once owned. Must be good!!. Oh, what's the difference between dry gin or just gin on the label?
    Belize-Merv

    Oct 20, 2010 at 2:14 PM


  • Snooth User: Carmtor
    584917 5

    It used to be Bombay Sapphire, then Hendricks, now my favorite is "209" out of California hard to find but worth it!

    Oct 20, 2010 at 2:45 PM


  • Snooth User: maliane
    538973 14

    I'm a loyal devotee of Sapphire - nothing like a Sapphire & tonic on a summer afternoon. I like my G&Ts lime-y, so Rangpur also gets a nod. I make a mean Negroni with Sapphire as well, tho' Tanq isn't half bad. For a gin martini, nothing beats the complex aroma of Magellan. Based on comments, I'm going to try the Hendrick's!

    Oct 20, 2010 at 3:57 PM


  • Snooth User: SYR1956
    594251 3

    I prefer a martini made according to Winston Churchill's recipe: Tanqueray with the proper amount of vermoth being the quiet murmer of the word "France" while looking at a distant bottle of Noilly Prat.

    Old Raj is certainly more than an acceptable substitute when Tanqueray is unavailable.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 3:57 PM


  • Some years ago, David Rosengarten published his version of the perfect summer G+T. His recipe calls for freezing tonic in ice cube trays and putting 3-4 "tonic cubes" into a tall glass, with the juice of half a lime and Plymouth Gin (lower proof, so you can indulge in more than one), and no getting watered down!)

    Oct 20, 2010 at 7:25 PM


  • Snooth User: delmas2nd
    337567 3

    my favorite gin is Boodles, it is always smooth and tastes so fresh. my wife and i have gin and tonics each day after work with believe it or not diet tonic from walmart with plenty of lime. second favorite is the aforementioned Booth's. almost as smooth and i guess i am a sucker for the added alcohol content.

    Oct 20, 2010 at 9:21 PM


  • Snooth User: Catherine Gin
    Hand of Snooth
    592568 297

    Love the diverse range of gins up here and looking forward to hunting down some of the recommended new-to-me brands. My favorite is Gordon's Sloe Gin. The sloe berries really give the gin a unique quality: I think it's a bit sweeter, fruitier and drier than standard gins. It's quite common in the U.K. but so hard to find in the U.S.!

    Oct 21, 2010 at 2:44 PM


  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,549

    Hendricks, with cucumber please.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 3:48 PM


  • Snooth User: kgrisham
    555502 1

    I love trying different Gins! Right now my favorite find is the small batches by Berkshire Mountain Distillers out of Mass.

    Intense!

    Oct 21, 2010 at 5:39 PM


  • Snooth User: mkcdundee
    484116 4

    A couple or perfect afternoons were on the island of Tortolo drinking G&T at Pusser's Gin. Probably an insult to connoisseurs but unforgetable just the same. At home it is Sapphire.

    Oct 21, 2010 at 10:33 PM


  • Has anybody tried Saffron Gin by Gabriel Boudier of Dijon, it is wonderfully perfumed and a Gorgeous golden colour. Another good Gin not mentioned is Blackwoods from the Shetland Isles ( be careful with the Blackwood's 60 though).

    Oct 22, 2010 at 5:26 AM


  • Snooth User: billoneil
    618247 1

    209 Gin is a worthy try too! I tried it in San Francisco and I've switched from vodka cocktails to 209 gin cocktails based on that experience. I tried so many great cocktails there - amazing bartenders, a real culinary renaissance for cocktails and gin in particular!

    Oct 22, 2010 at 10:41 AM


  • Snooth User: stebern
    183178 1

    KC Sandy - go for Hendricks. It's sensational.

    Oct 26, 2010 at 7:57 PM


  • Snooth User: xan
    34145 1

    Please put a brandied cherry in a corpse reviver 2.

    Old raj perfect martini with a lemon twist!

    Genevieve manhattan

    Oct 26, 2010 at 10:47 PM


  • Wake Up Guys! (and Gals...) London Dry Gin should be made in London for true authenticity - that means BEEFEATER - SIPSMITH - SACRED!

    These gins are the best, and others are merely pretenders...

    Oct 27, 2010 at 4:32 PM


  • Snooth User: auntiekak
    623236 1

    Only one vote for Plymouth Gin? Our favorite, and the favorite of the NY Times as well. It is s-m-o-o-th. All the gin is made in the same still that has been distilling it since 1793. If you are ever in Plymouth England, the distillery is worth a visit.

    Oct 27, 2010 at 7:48 PM


  • How can we discuss favorite brands of gin without properly breaking down the types of gin. There are 4 1/2 types of gin-London/Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom and Genever. I give the 1/2 to "new style" gins (eg.Hendricks). It is all about sugar content (mine are listed from low sugar to high sugar). Sloe gin isn't gin at all, but Plymouth makes a fine one.

    Nov 01, 2010 at 3:24 PM


  • Why isn't Broker's gin on this list? It's a truly great gin, and at a truly great price.

    Nov 06, 2010 at 12:22 PM


  • Snooth User: VASwede
    565441 3

    Black River Gin, made by Sweetgrass Farm in Union, Maine!

    Nov 14, 2010 at 7:47 PM


  • Snooth User: Bob60
    46799 1

    Where can I buy Boodles London Dry gin in the UK

    Nov 25, 2010 at 4:47 PM


  • Nothing like gin-ophile! What about Ginifer for a first name! Beefeater is old school and I love it!

    Mar 01, 2011 at 8:59 PM


  • Snooth User: Jylle L
    797576 2

    Magellan is disgusting!!!

    Mar 14, 2011 at 7:36 AM


  • Snooth User: GLWAGG
    1050144 0

    Well of all you gin drinkers--not a one of you has evidentially had the unique "Pleasure" if embibing probably the finest little know "GIN" in the World----if you ever get the opportunity Try Sampling My Very Favorite Brand "OSA NEGRO" 100 PROOF from Mexico---It Will Surely Blow away all the afore mentioned brands, and it's all because they produce the finest tasting juniper berries in all of the World....! ! !

    Mar 04, 2012 at 9:07 AM


  • I was recently introduced to New Amsterdam gin which I tested rigorously against Beefeaters in Gin and Tonic. I had always thought the tonic was the thing until I tasted New Amsterdam. THE BEST. Quite fruity and very balanced. Loved it.
    S

    Jul 09, 2012 at 11:31 PM


  • Snooth User: Drinksmith
    1258817 8

    That cocktail at the beginning is not a Corpse Reviver No. 2. It is a 'Death in the Afternoon'. This drink was made famous by Hemmingway in his time in Paris and would normally use Absinthe rather than anise liqueur..
    A
    Corpse Reviver No. 2 is:
    1 part lemon juice
    1 part Cointreau
    1 part kina lillet (or Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano)
    1 part London Dry Gin (might be the only drink I can think of where Bombay Sapphire works better than most)
    a dash of Absinthe
    Shaken, served in a cocktail glass and garnished with a zest of lemon or a cherry.

    Mar 13, 2013 at 7:10 AM


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