Modern Gin Picks to Transform Your CocktailsBy Anna Archibald
Gin is an incredibly diverse spirit. Just as there is great variation between whiskeys—from rye to bourbon to scotch, etc.—gin can vastly differ from one region or style to the next. Though the inclusion of juniper is a requirement, it does not need to be the predominant flavor. That means a gin’s character is often dependent on other botanicals—from orange peel to coriander to anise and lavender. While traditional, juniper-heavy London dry style is still popular, many distillers have decided to buck tradition. These are five such gins with sparkling personalities of their own. Swap them into cocktails to get a first-hand understanding of the breadth of flavor and texture in modern gin.
Inspired by Australia’s European and Asian heritage, Four Pillars is keen on using unusual and highly flavorful botanicals. The Rare Dry Gin is a great example of that, using a variety of botanicals aside from the usual juniper berries: Australian lemon myrtle, Tasmanian pepperberry leaf, cinnamon, star anise and orange. This creates an interesting balance of spice and sweeter citrus flavors that works wonderfully in a variety of cocktails, from the Gin & Tonic to Martinis and sours.
The exciting product of distilling and beekeeping, this gin is unlike any other. It’s made only with juniper and raw honey, which adds just enough sweet and floral complexity to create mountains of flavor. It probably wouldn’t go as well in a Gin & Tonic or Collins as other gins, but it is surprisingly easy to sip on its own, over ice. Try this in an Old Fashioned sweetened with honey to allow its character to shine through. Or, perhaps, Bee’s Knees.
As FEW’s website proclaims, “It’s 10 am somewhere and Few Breakfast Gin is here to go with your pancakes.” While gin is a tall order on most mornings, it’s a perfect candidate for those who require some fortification. In addition to traditional botanicals, it’s also infused with Earl Grey tea. This lends a rich, tannic quality to an otherwise citrusy spirit. Use it in breakfast—or, better yet, brunch—cocktails for an added burst of flavor. We’d recommend a Gin Fizz.
Created by whisky legend Jim McEwan and including more than 30 botanicals—22 of which were foraged in Islay—this gin is as much an expression of Scotland as any scotch. With each sip, you’ll discover different flavors, including some you may not recognize offhand. Juniper and coriander are joined by Islay foraged apple mint, heather, red clover and meadowsweet. Swap it into any classic gin cocktail to add brightness and depth. It would do particularly well in citrus-forward recipes, playing well with the gin’s floral notes.
Not only are gin distillers playing with unusual botanicals, but they’re also altering the base grain to alter the spirit’s flavor. St. George Distillery employs the particularly tricky rye grain for its Dry Rye Gin. This gives the spirit an underlying peppery spice and then balances that nicely with bright coriander, grapefruit, and lime. When mixing this gin in cocktails, you’ll want to be sure that it’s paired with equally forceful ingredients, like amaro—think Negronis and Hanky Pankys.
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