Here is a collection of the gins I have tried, some information about them provided on labels together with my opinion about the taste.

Reviewed so far: Whitley Rhubarb & Ginger | Bloom | Opihr | Thomas Dakin | Bulldog | Oliver Cromwell | Whitley Elderflower | Tanqueraqy No 10 | Sipsmith Orange | Malfy Lemon | Poetic Old Tom | Poetic Northern | Brecon | Rock Rose | Roku | Hampstead | Broker’s | Bosford | Greenhall’s Original | Portobello Road No171

Here is a collection of the gins I have tried, some information about them provided on labels together with my opinion about the taste.

F irst let’s make one point, many of the mainstream gins are labelled under the category of London Dry Gin which describes the way in which the gin has been made. For a fuller understanding of the history of gin and the distillation process refer to my article here.

The importance of this point is that London Dry Gins have firstly distilled to a clear alcohol and had water added to create volume, thereby they are rather tasteless, because only the alcohol has been created by distilling a fermented base. All distillation must start from fermented ingredients.

Let’s say you ferment some barley or potatoes, this means you are activating the natural sugars and turning them into alcohol. At this point the alcohol content is small and limited. You then distill it, so separating the alcohol from the fermented mix, and it is this process that magically strengthens the alcohol by doubling or trebling the amount. At this point you basically have pure ethanol and it is diluted with water to the desired strength, and this is known as a neutral spirit.

Many beverages start off from a neutral spirit, vodka is in essence just that, a neutral distillate which is distilled several times. Whiskies are fermented from corn or rye then distilled three times. When the neutral spirit is arrived at, it is at this stage that a flavour is added to gins.

Gin is a juniper flavoured spirit and with London Dry Gins it must be the predominant flavour no matter how many botanicals are included. After juniper the distiller is free to add any other botanicals they wish in order to achieve their desired taste.

It is the choice of these botanicals that define the final gin. Some may heavily rely on juniper and these are described as ‘juniper rich’ like Hendricks, and others may contain as many as twenty-eight botanicals. The neutral spirit is then distilled again allowing the captured vapours to pass through the mesh of selected botanicals and thereby flavouring the resulting gin. This is the process that creates a London Dry Gin.

So to clarify my point about London Dry Gins, the difference between them is a matter of flavouring. It’s not easy to add such complexity and subtlety of flavouring to alcohol and so it has become an art form.

As a beginning or experimenting gin taster it will seem like they all taste the same, and the joy of drinking gin becomes an exercise of differentiating the flavours.

The UK, has seen a 12% increase in volumes sold in the year up to June 2017, and a 32% rise in British gin exports in the past five years, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. Happy tasting!

F irst let’s make one point, many of the mainstream gins are labelled under the category of London Dry Gin which describes the way in which the gin has been made. For a fuller understanding of the history of gin and the distillation process refer to my article here.

The importance of this point is that London Dry Gins have firstly distilled to a clear alcohol and had water added to create volume, thereby they are rather tasteless, because only the alcohol has been created by distilling a fermented base. All distillation must start from fermented ingredients.

Let’s say you ferment some barley or potatoes, this means you are activating the natural sugars and turning them into alcohol. At this point the alcohol content is small and limited. You then distill it, so separating the alcohol from the fermented mix, and it is this process that magically strengthens the alcohol by doubling or trebling the amount. At this point you basically have pure ethanol and it is diluted with water to the desired strength, and this is known as a neutral spirit.

Many beverages start off from a neutral spirit, vodka is in essence just that, a neutral distillate which is distilled several times. Whiskies are fermented from corn or rye then distilled three times. When the neutral spirit is arrived at, it is at this stage that a flavour is added to gins.

Gin is a juniper flavoured spirit and with London Dry Gins it must be the predominant flavour no matter how many botanicals are included. After juniper the distiller is free to add any other botanicals they wish in order to achieve their desired taste.

It is the choice of these botanicals that define the final gin. Some may heavily rely on juniper and these are described as ‘juniper rich’ like Hendricks, and others may contain as many as twenty-eight botanicals. The neutral spirit is then distilled again allowing the captured vapours to pass through the mesh of selected botanicals and thereby flavouring the resulting gin. This is the process that creates a London Dry Gin.

So to clarify my point about London Dry Gins, the difference between them is a matter of flavouring. It’s not easy to add such complexity and subtlety of flavouring to alcohol and so it has become an art form.

As a beginning or experimenting gin taster it will seem like they all taste the same, and the joy of drinking gin becomes an exercise of differentiating the flavours.

The UK, has seen a 12% increase in volumes sold in the year up to June 2017, and a 32% rise in British gin exports in the past five years, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. Happy tasting!

WHITLEY NEILL RHUBARB & GINGER

Promotionally there’s not much to differentiate this bold flavour combination other than the bottle glass being a slight purple or dark pink colour. The taste requires a delicate tonic perhaps best without adding a vermouth and it rates rather well in comparison with some pink gins or varieties of sweeter pinks like Bosford from Asda and even Gordon’s pink which tastes a little on the cordial side. Whitley Neill’s is neither pink, nor sweetie cordial and has the benefit of a higher ABV to bolster its appeal. All in all it comes down to whether you appreciate the rhubarb & ginger flavour over the standard Whitley botanicals, and for me the answer was yes, very much so, and would I buy it again in favour of trying out a new gin, again yes.

Available at Sainsbury’s and Mirrisons inthe £20-£22 range.

  • ABV 43% 43%
BLOOM

“This is a delightful gin. Some gins hit high citrus notes where others are herb based. It’s the camomile in Bloom that gives it a distinct floral base. Although most at home with an Indian tonic, gin has become of late taken simply over ice like a whisky. This gin it very much at home mixed with lemonade. In fact lemonade is a great second best to tonic and popular if you find the quinine glossiness of tonic a little overpowering. Indeed, Bloom have launched a perfectly blended Gin & Tonic Rose Lemonade in partnership with Fentiman’s. Additionally, Bloom is equally best served alongside fruit and strong cheese and its botanicals perfectly complement the sweetness of fresh strawberries. On the limit at 40% ABV from England’s oldest distillers.”

  • ABV 40% 40%

OPIHR

“Opihr sits on the shelf as a middle of the range priced gin alongside Bulldog and Portsmouth gins at around the £20 to £24 mark. Like Bombay Sapphire gin produced by Barcardi that associates itself with ancient India, Opihr claims a link to the old Chinese spice route. Very hard to capture the flavours of a dynasty with a few spices or herbs but the story goes a long way in enjoying a gin. For example, Tanqueray No10 went to great lengths to have the perfect art deco bottle designed for its flagship gin which the distiller aims to portray as the quintessential British tipple. Opihr in comparison is made by the G&J Distillery which also own the brands Greenall’sBloomBerkeley Square and Thomas Dakin. So this gin is made under the watchful eye of head distiller Joanne Moore as mentioned in the outline above about Bloom and the connection of Opihr to the ancient world is in fairy tale only and because of the flavourings. While selecting the spices and botanicals to include in Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin it’s reassuring that the flavours of Asia were foremost in mind but it is a mix of flavours combined from the ports along the ancient route from Indonesia to England.  Cubeb from Malaysia, black pepper, cardamom and ginger from India, cumin from Turkey, coriander seed from Morocco, bitter oranges from Spain, Juniper from Italy and Angelica from Germany and finally grapefruit peel from an unknown source. It is a delicately smooth mix despite the complexity of ingredients and keeps a pleasant nasal tone throughout the drinking. A bottle will not last long in your drinks store.”

  • ABV 40% 40%

THOMAS DAKIN

“Another Gin brand from G&J Distillery (Greenall’s, Ophir, Bloom et al). Labelled as a small batch gin from Manchester and made in a copper pot still, it boasts eleven botanicals including juniper, orange peel, coriander, angelica, cubebs, grapefruit and liquorice. This is an example of a high quality English gin, as opposed to a London Dry Gin and the copper pot process allows for the development of a fuller flavour that gets closer to the base flavours. It is also infused with red cole, a horserashish, that was mixed in cordials to refresh travellers in the 18th Century and which the label claims adds an ‘exceptional taste’.  All in all it is a crisp but pleasant gin with citrus notes that stands proudly alonside any reasonably priced bottle at the £24 to £30 mark. It is also an overproof gin at 42% ABV.”

  • ABV 42% 42%

BULLDOG

“A London Dry Gin hitting the £20 to £22 mark. It has poppy, dragon eye, lotus leaves, citrus, almond and lavender; altogether 12 all-natural botanicals from 8 different countries. It’s made from wheat, on the proof limit at 40% ABV and distilled from 100% grain neutral spirit unlike the 96% that is the norm. Its perfumed aromas and deeper flavours of cassia and coriander makes the taste, for me, similar to Ophir. However, although the branding may suggest a new age modern British fad gin that has done well to get alongside the likes of Ophir and Portsmouth gins, Bulldog is hand crafted by an English distillery that has been making the highest quality gin for over 250 years. One could describe it as a balanced gin which is a generic term meaning it has been well blended, rather like a fine whisky. My first impression of Bulldog gin was that I enjoyed it very much and got through a few bottles before moving on to try something else.”

  • ABV 40% 40%

OLIVER CROMWELL

“A London Dry Gin from Aldi at £9.97 for a 70cl bottle. It’s been in the news recently for receiving a top award, leaving people bewildered at a supermarket gin coming anywhere close to traditional more established gins and lending to statements that Oliver Cromwell was officially voted the best gin in the world.

In fact in 2017, Judges at one of the most prestigious competitions of its type, the International Spirits Challenge, awarded Oliver Cromwell a silver medal. It doesn’t mean it came second in the competition, there were 9 gold awards and no less than 61 silver medals. But it does put it ahead of brands like Beefeater’s Burrough’s Reserve Gin which sells for a staggering £63.35 for the same-size 70cl bottle.

Waitrose Premium London Dry also received silver as did Tesco Finest Aromatic Gin, Marks and Spencer London Dry Gin and Castelgy London Dry Gin – Lidl Ireland. Indeed Tesco Finest London Dry Gin was one of the 9 awarded a gold.

Probably most notable is not so much the gin but the distiller. Oliver Cromwell is produced by the Essential Drinks Company, an alcohol manufacturer from Warrington in the North, and the same distiller behind gold winner Tesco Finest London Dry Gin. It’s also worth noting that these competitions are held yearly and therefore results differ and so it is not really a test of the best gins from best to worse but a certificate of merit awarded to gins of distinction.

For example, a big brand but standard London Dry Gin is Tanqueray produced by Diageo which won a gold medal, as did another Diageo brand Gordon’s London Dry Gin. But Tanqueray’s coveted No Ten regarded as a far superior gin was only awarded a silver.

The talk about Oliver Cromwell was more to do with its price which is down to Aldi UK having licence to produce it. In this context Oliver Cromwell from the Essential Drinks Company and from Aldi UK both received a silver medal, albeit one is cheaper than the other. It is because the Aldi bottle is below a tenner that it has received notoriety. Consider another product by Aldi UK, Topaz Blue Premium Gin which also received a silver medal but retails at £13.99 and did not receive half the applause.

However as far as quality goes, it has positioned itself alongside other silver award gins such as Beefeater, Bloom, Bathtub Gin, and Plymouth Gin. The International Spirits Challenge is nonetheless a respected competition due to the rigorous judging process and awards are coveted by distillers. Of Oliver Cromwell the experts opinion was that it had a ripe citrus aroma and a clear and crisp flavour.

The great news is that the results for the International Spirits Challenge 2018 are due to be published on 30th March 2018 on their website. If Oliver Cromwell is still on that list of winners then it will demonstrate this is a gin with legs.

As for my opinion of it. A bottle of Oliver Cromwell was given to me by a work colleague, thank you Ashley Osborne for such a great gift, I enjoyed every drop. Yes I would buy a bottle when next in Aldi which is the first question answered. I certainly will need another bottle to get a better appreciation of it as I thought there were some good and some not so good points.

Firstly, that sharp alcohol hit at the back of your throat that makes you go “arghhhh” when you knock it back straight, is not there in Oliver Cromwell. Because you don’t feel like you’re drinking fire water, you get the impression it’s not as potent as typical more established London Drys. This is a plus for me because the fire burn is what prevents me sampling gins straight, rather as you might with rums.

A negative point for me was that I struggled to taste the base flavours and only had that in the after taste. In this regard it’s a gin to drink simply just with lemonade. Indian tonic may overpower the delicacy with the quinine masking the base flavour. Don’t add a lemon slice or other garnish, as the citrus tones struggle to get through the gin in the first place, perhaps if any garnish then only cucumber may work. And finally if you’re making a martini or other cocktail, leave out the vermouth for the same reasons already mentioned.

In short, I thought this gin was delightful if kept simple, just add a base mixer for thinning and bubbles, don’t even add ice unless they are artificial plastic frozen cubes. How refreshing this would be on a hot day, but it takes discipline to keep it simple and the slightest error in preparation will mask the heart of this gin. In other words I felt the gin was perfect for a hot day if prepared in an exact way, otherwise my overall opinion is that it lacks complexity and guts, despite gin experts having awarding it such accolade, it would get 7 out of 10 from me because it’s too fragile, too delicate and possibly too cheap.

  • ABV 37.5% 37.5%

J. J. WHITLEY ELDERFLOWER GIN

“This gin is a delightful addition to the Tesco spirits shelf, sitting among the £20 range, however today I picked a bottle up for just £15 (70cl), Bulldog too was reduced to just £15 and Tanqueray No10 down to £26, whatever next! I decided to try this nicely bottled creation from J.J. Whitley partly down to the nice bottle and partly due to the decent price.

The JJ range is a new brand from Johnny Neill, the producer of Whitley Neill Gin. His grandmother’s family company was Greenall Whitley – originally behind the G&J Greenalls distillery and breweries. JJ Whitley was Johnny’s great grandfather and Managing Director of Greenall’s. This is where the JJ range takes its inspiration, unlike Whitley Neill Gins that follow Johnny’s wife’s South African heritage.

Whitley’s have been distilling for eight generations so they know a thing or too about it so the first notation on this gin is that it is made in a copper pot still, which as you know means it’s therefore not a London Dry Gin. Being that copper stills retain more of the base flavour it’s the next point to note that the gin has a hint of yellow colour to it unlike the customary clearness of London Drys.

The two points mentioned above would suggest a well-made, well-blended and well-thought-out batch of gin. Indeed for the elderflower to keep its prominence, it sits atop soft scents of juniper, coriander and cinnamon which the distillers say gives a sweet velvety sensation and a fresh floral bouquet.

In all there are eight botanicals, presumably one in acknowledgement for every generation of distiller. This lends a variety of taste sensation from notes of honey to grassiness and orange blossom. When popping the cork you take in wonderful summery notes. The botanicals have been balanced perfectly to give the nose and palate the sensation of summer. It can take a slice of lemon and is equally well at home mixed with a sparkling wine or a tonic.

It’s an elderflower gin with a complexity that keeps the elderflower above the other botanicals and you can imagine drinking it whilst also enjoying a bowl of strawberries. I can think of no other that would make the perfect entry gin for someone tasting gin for the first time, and just a tad of tonic brings out the incredible floral notes. I’m not sure what cocktails bartenders will come up with but it’s possibly a gin where ice and a splash are the only additions needed. It gets a 9 out of 10 from me because it has a floral complexity that I understand and it makes its presence felt. It’s a gin you will remember and want to get again.”

  • ABV 36.8% 36.8%

TANQUERAY No10

The design of this bottle was specially commissioned to resemble a cocktail shaker with lemon juicer at the bottom in the Art Deco style and features 10 indentations down its length. The bottle keeps the Tanqueray red seal of founder Charles Tanqueray but the bottle colour is a lighter shade than its older brother.

The standard Tanqueray of old is a pretty good all round popular gin having won awards around the globe. If you watch Eastenders, when Ian Beale had a selection of spirits on the side, it was a bottle of Tanqueray gin that you could easily identify.

No10 is marketed as the premium flavour of the brand although I prefer the original. The price is in the £30 range and reflects the over-proof ABV, but it is made in small batches, named after the No.10 still in which it is made.

I had been waiting for ages to try it, but the mystery for me was its claim of an abundance of botanical flavours, yet I found it to be crisp and clear and rather tasteless, rather like drinking fresh clean clear water direct from a spring.

Maybe I’m just not that good at tasting or I’m missing the point with this gin, but for the price I didn’t get the same satisfaction as other competitors in this price range such as Japanese Roku or Silent Pool.

Originally made in 1830 by Charles Tanqueray, the timeless recipe is still used today, it has Angelica, Chamomile, Coriander, Grapefruit, Juniper, Lemongrass, Liquorice, Orange, orange blossom and is a staple of cocktails around the world.

Tanqueray launched this high end version in 2000 distilled on a small still heated by steam. It is distilled in ‘one shot’ which means it comes from the still at the intended strength and not at excessively high strength that would require a watering down stage.

It won many awards during the 2000s and established itself as a gold standard. It’s primarily designed to be citrus rich, negating the slice of lemon or lime in the glass, yet I couldn’t taste any citrus, say like with Malfy or Slipmith gins.

Two words mark out this gin in reviews ‘subtle and complex’. A strange concept for me, it’s either subtle or complex right? What I can say is that it has clear notes, and perhaps grapefruit is the predominant flavour I can just about distinguish, seeing as Tanqueray No10 contains both red and white grapefruit.

The pine and coriander notes escaped me, as did the jasmine, orange and lime. Perhaps I’m just a Philistine, so I don’t get the claim that it is the perfect gin for a Martini and Aviation. I’ve enjoyed many other brands in a Martini that were far more discernible than No10.

So if you just want straightforward gin and tonic, and why ever not, then this gin is probably a bit pricey, overrated and there are better gins out there to try. But if your venturing towards the art of the cocktail then perhaps No10 offers a crisp and classic ingredient, and perhaps all that citrus really does make the difference, don’t take my word for it, try it out.

My view was mixed, I don’t know if I really like it or not. It may be taking a back seat due to all the rich varieties out there, for example Asda’s own pink gin and even Gordon’s rose tastes so sweet it’s like raspberry cordial. When the gin honeymoon fades, gins such as Tanqueray No10 will come through.

  • ABV 47% 47%

SIPSMITH ORANGE & CACAO

Sipsmith, London Dry Gin distillers from London.

Sipsmith produce a standard and excellent gin flanked by two variants, lemon and orange. The Orange and Cacao bottle is unashamedly shouting about its orangeness, from the cap and labelling to the orange tinge of the gin, in contrast to Tanqueray Sevilla which is more of an Irn Bru colour.

The Sipsmith distillery launched in 2009. They are trailblazers in that up to their beginning, smaller distillers were not allowed to distill in small batches, Sipsmith changed that. They were the first to use a copper distillery in London for 200 years.

Sipsmith Orange & Cacao is their sixth product. The first was their London Dry, they also made a juniper rich or VJOP; Very Junipery Over Proof gin. They make a sloe gin and then there’s Lemon Drizzle gin. they also make a summer drink similar to a Pimms.

Then there’s Orange & Cacao. The cacao gives it an edge of chocolate, so perhaps a little reminiscent of a liqueur inside a small chocolate. Cacao nibs are small pieces of cacao beans and are extremely intense in flavour and slightly bitter. this is one of those gins you can comfortably drink neat.

Sipsmith have perfected the art of an orange flavour in gin. Open the bottle and the smell is strong, orange and zesty as you might expect. When you pour tonic into the glass it releases the flavours and fills the glass with orange aroma.

To the taste there’s a hint of marmalade. You can even add 50ml to your hot chocolate. Like Sipsmith say; “Chocolate Orange isn’t just for eating.”

Citrus gins are nothing new, but this one demonstrates the sheer confidence of Sipsmith to put something this bold out there. It’s truly original and modern and worth a try.

  • ABV 40% 40%

MALFY CON LIMONE

Malfy make an original gin, this lemon one and an orange one ‘con arancia’ all at 41% ABV. They’re in the £28 range and available widely, also at M&S Archway.

Malfy is made on the Amalfi coast, from Italian Juniper, Sicilian lemons cut with Italian Spring Water, coriander, angelica and cassia bark.

The result is a very refreshing gin, very citrus fresh, with woody notes from the juniper. The ideal companion for any unflavoured Indian tonic water. Especially suited for a Negroni and a garnish of Rosemary is said to accentuate the nose.

  • ABV 41% 41%

POETIC LICENSE OLD TOM GIN

Old Tom Gin is sweeter gin the usual. It goes back to the time when gins could be pretty fould tasting and sharp and therefor sugar was added. The high standards of gin making no longer require sweetening, but Old Tom Gins remain popular.

This one from Poetic Licence is made using no sugar – all the sweetness is produced by the liquorice root, but they remain true to the historic way of production by using a mid 19th century recipe and oak barrels for ageing and developing the sweetness.

It’s flavoured with rose petals to soften the character and accentuated by Indonesian cubeb peppers. The other botanicals used are Juniper, Angelica root, Liquorice, and sweet and bitter oranges. And comes in one of the loveliest bottles you’ll find.

They also make Fireside Gin with a sweetness coming from dried winter fruits. Also their Northern Dry Gin has 13 botanicals predominantly Juniper, Angelica Root and Coriander Seeds, with underlying Cardamom, Cubeb berries and Persian lime and described as a gin for gin lovers.

  • ABV 41.6% 41.6%

POETIC LICENSE NORTHERN DRY GIN

Coming Soon

  • ABV 43.2% 43.2%

BRECON BOTANICALS WELSH GIN

As the name implies, this is a gin from Wales and diluted with water from the Brecon Beacons. The by-line on the label says ‘From the four corners of the world’.

Penderyn are another small batch distillery and originally produced gin for the Spanish gin craze. It’s in the £25 range so competing with the likes of Portobello Road and Sipsmith London Dry.

My first taste was a miniature that was part of a gin tasting box of 31 gins. Apart from some gins listed here already such as Sipsmith Orange and Cacao, two gins stood out for me to try again; Rock Rose and Brecon.

Botanicals include Clove, Cinnamon, Lemon and Dried Tea and of course juniper and coriander to the fore, that’s why I like it so much. Crisp, clean and smooth.

  • ABV 43% 43%

ROCK ROSE PREMIUM SCOTTISH GIN

Rock Rose Gin is made at the Dunnet Bay Distillery in the very north of Scotland in Caithness, probably Britain’s most northerly mainland distillery. It was established in 2014 by husband and wife team, Martin and Claire Murray having been involved in distilling since their university days in Edinburgh.

It features an unusual line up of 18 botanicals; from five locally harvested, Rhodiola Rosea, Rowan Berries, Sea Buckthorn, Blaeberries, and Verbena, as well as the standard Coriander Seed and Cardamom. It’s thought the Vikings gathered Rhodiola rosea on the cliffs believing it would give them the extra strength.

Martin and Claire combined Rhodiola rosea with juniper, and once distilled it adds a delicate rose aroma to taste. They vapour infuse all the botanicals in a steam basket at the neck of their custom made copper pot stil.

For me, juniper rich gins such as Hendrick’s stand out above others when I taste them. The juniper in Rock Rose come to the fore and comes from two different countries: Italy and Bulgaria.

Does it rival that other famous gin from Scotland, namely Hendrick’s – yes I think so. I didn’t know it was Scottish when I tried it from a miniature taster pack over Christmas but it was one of two that I wanted to look out for in a larger bottle size. It truly does not disappoint and the bottle is quite nice too.

The price range is over £30, so it’s setting itself slightly above rival Hendrick’s and others such as Tanqueray No10 or Bathtub Old Tom Gin – on price anyway. Presumably the marketing strategy is that sitting on the same shelf buyers will assume it is slightly better quality, whether Rock Rose is superior to others in the £30 range is debatable.

  • ABV 41.5% 41.5%

ROKU JAPANESE GIN

Waitrose was the first UK supermarket to launch this Japanese gin, which is distilled by Suntory a Japanese whiskey maker.

The makers say the gin blends four seasons together with with each key botanical being harvested at the peak of its season for optimum flavour.

Roku means six in Japanese and refers to the six unique botanicals and also reflected in the beautifully designed hexagonal bottle.

The six unique botanicals are the Sakura flower (cherry blossom) and Sakura leaf harvested in Spring, the Sencha tea (green tea) and Gyokuro tea in Summer, the Sanshō pepper in Autumn and the Yuzu peel in Winter.

Eight traditional botanicals complement: juniper berries, coriander, angelica root, angelica seed, cardamom, cinnamon, bitter orange peel and lemon peel.

It’s a very authentic and refreshing gin.

  • ABV 43% 43%

HAMPSTEAD LONDON DRY GIN

The first thing about Hampstead is the lovely bottle. At first it looks rather chunky like a medicine bottle perhaps and a bit dated but on closer inspection the word Hampstead is embossed on both sides, and inbossed on front and back. The bottle is of thick green glass and feels good in the hand. This is no medicine bottle but a well designed container.

And guess where you buy it, at Lidl. Yes it’s widely sold in Germany as a great British gin. However here at home we only know it as a gin only sold at Lidl. There isn’t even any info about it on the Lidl website.

It sits in that £10 for 50cl range. Considering the nice bottle it isn’t too surprising that the gin itself was good. Store brands tend to be of superb quality, take Aldi’s award winning Oliver Cromwell gin as an excellent example.

I finished the bottle thinking, ‘hmm I quite liked that.’

  • ABV 40% 40%

BROKER’S GIN

This gin will divide opinion. There’s no doubting its superior strength at 47% ABV but as far as tasting, it was rather nonplus for me. I really wanted to enjoy it, it’s won awards, and it proudly sports the byline ‘world’s best gin’ under the logo.

Then there’s the try-too-hard to be British as if the word ‘London’ on all distilled dry gins wasn’t enough recognition. Add to this the name ‘Brokers’ because two guys that worked as brokers ion the City decided to make gin, and the little plastic bowler hat atop the bottle cap – and well, cut to the chase the gin ain’t that good mate.

  • ABV 47% 47%

BOSFORD GIN

probably the worst gin I have ever tasted. No, for sure it’s the worst. This Rosé Gin from Asda is made with natural strawberry flavour and a hint of raspberry. The fact they spell flavour without the ‘u’ on their website is a reminder that this once UK supermarket with headquarters in Leeds was bought by US giant Walmart in 1999.

It tastes like drinking raspberry cordial with added sugar. You get the impression your teeth are being stained red and to be perfectly honest you can’t wait for the bottle to finish. it’s not quite cough medicine but that image does float in your head.

Somewhat surprising to learn then, that it is made by Martini & Rossi of Torino, Italy. If you deconstructed this blend and took just the London Dry Gin with perhaps the tiniest of natural strawberry flavouring, then and only then would I consider drinking it again, but then why would you, when almost everything else is a more preferable alternative.

  • ABV 37.5% 37.5%

GREENHALL’S LONDON DRY GIN

If I were writing a history of a gin company then Greenhalls’s would probably be the best example to use. Britain’s oldest distillers lending the word ‘original’ as the byline to the title on their bottles.

In 2018 our distillery, G&J Greenall’s, was awarded Gin Producer of the Year by the International Spirits Challenge. Even the Greenhall’s website is a wonderful creation.

Take these extracts from the website:

THE INGREDIENTS: Before the distillation begins the botanicals are added by hand to our copper still along with a mixture of grain neutral spirit and water sourced from the foothills of the local Cheshire Plains. The botanicals are then rested in the spirit and water to allow the flavours to infuse.

THE DISTILLATION: Using steam, the liquid is heated until it vaporises, taking all the essential oils and aromas of the botanicals. The vapour is cooled, condensed, and collected as a concentrated spirit.

THE HEARTS: Only the ‘heart’ of the distillate is chosen to create our gin. Any residual liquids (the ‘heads’ and the ‘tails’) which are created at the start and the end of the process are discarded.

The collection of gins are truly remarkable and I aim to try them all; Wild berry pink gin, blueberry gin, blood orange gin, extra reserve London Dry Gin. As for the bog standard original London Dry Gin, there’s nothing ‘bog standard’ about it, it has those rounded juniper notes that I love, citrus flavours and woody notes. What’s not to love.

  • ABV 37.5% 37.5%

PORTOBELLO ROAD GIN

They make it at 171 Portobello Road, it takes nine months, and has nine botanicals: juniper. coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, lemon peel, orange peel, liquorice root, cassia bark and nutmeg.

It’s probably the fundamental ingredient base that every gin should have and as such Portobello Road cannot be judged as any other than a great tasting gin.

The website is great with a section on recipes showing you how to make perfect cocktails like the Portobel;lo Road Martini, Tom Collins, Mojito, Red Snapper and a couple of good old G&Ts.

As well as the popular Portobello Road Gin No. 171 they also make a few surprising gins that you may not have heard about: Temperance Gin, Butter Gin, Portobello Gin Navy Strength (57.1% ABV).

Sitting on the shelf at £25 for a 70cl bottle, I can’t say I note much difference between similar gins slightly less pricey like Portsmouth Gin or Bulldog Gin. It’s a staple in places like M&S and has a close association with Fever Tree so perhaps this gin will last the test of time.

I look forward to trying the Celebrated Butter Gin, sitting slightly higher on the shelf at £30. To quote from the website: ‘To create Celebrated Butter Gin, we use our London Dry recipe, which is then put back in to our copper stills with blocks of unsalted butter, giving the gin a smooth, creamy mouth feel.’

  • ABV 42% 42%