Gone are the days when gin generally came in one flavour – juniper. Now, with more than 600 craft gin distilleries in the UK alone (and several hundred more in Spain), gins are infused with flavours unthinkable only a few years ago.
Ingredients as diverse as lemongrass, seaweed, tea and freshly foraged herbs now offer a tantalising challenge to your tastebuds. I’ve even recently seen a gin infused with 6kg of fresh lobster (which might be taking it a bit far!)
For those who prefer gloriously citrusy gins, fruits such as grapefruit, lime, orange and plum are becoming more and more popular. So, we thought we’d talk you through some of our favourites. We’ll come back to some of the more unusual flavours such as marshmallow, Bakewell tart (and even lobster!) another time.
Here are some interesting gins that we are delighted to recommend:
Sipsmith Chili and Lime gin (England)
Sipsmith’s Chili and Lime limited edition gin is bursting with character and is made in small batches by the folks at Sipsmith, one of the pioneers of the craft gin movement. They take a standard gin base and infuse it with tangy lime to deliver a classic gin experience. Then they infuse it again with botanicals to give it an extra kick adding an intricate blend of 7 different fruity and complex chilis. The result is a unique gin that will usher you into winter with a little fire in your mouth. Full of character and exploding with flavour, this one won’t be around forever, so make sure you get your order in now before it’s too late!
The perfect serve: Pour 50 ml of Sipsmith Chili and Lime gin into a large Copa glass and fill to the top with a premium tonic water such as Fever Tree (paid link). Or you could try it with a classic ginger ale. Garnish with a dry chili pepper, sit back and sip slowly.
Whitley Neill Lemongrass and Ginger gin (England)
Whitley Neill are building quite a reputation for their eclectic range of high quality, great value, flavoured gins. They’re perhaps most well known for their beautifully balanced rhubarb and ginger gin. But if you’re hankering for a little taste of the East, this fragrant gin might just be the one for you. The guys at WN have been inspired by the flavours of South East Asia and have created a beautiful, elegant and subtle gin. It combines the essence of lemongrass with natural ginger. And there’s lots of juniper goodness in there as well. Delicate, fragrant (and a little citrusy) this one comes with an extra whack of heat to warm the tastebuds. A deliciously different G&T – equally perfect for sipping on a hot summer’s day or a chilly winter’s evening.
The perfect serve: pour 50 ml of Whitley Neill Lemongrass and Ginger gin into a large copa glass. Fill with large ice cubes and top up with ginger ale, or a premium Indian tonic water. Garnish with fresh ginger, a slice of lemon or some black pepper. Or, if your prefer, add a twist of lemongrass and serve with ginger ale for some extra oomph! Sip slowly.
Haysmith, Rhubarb and Ginger (England)
Rhubarb and ginger are two flavours that have built a real following this summer, but they don’t always come cheap. So, if you’re looking for a great value gin for under £20, then pop down to Aldi to pick up a bottle of this before they run out. At £14.99 a bottle, this gin has the perfect balance of rhubarb and ginger dominating the taste, but there are strong notes of juniper throughout. This is a lovely combination of sweet and sour and at 37.5% you can have a few of these without falling over. There are more expensive and heavily marketed rhubarb and ginger brands out there, but if you’re looking for value for money, this might be a good choice.
The perfect serve: pour 50ml of Haysmith’s Rhubarb and Ginger gin into a large copa glass and fill with ice. Top up with a premium tonic water of your choice and serve with a grapefruit slice. And if you want to turn up the taste, you could even add some elderflower cordial to give it an extra flavour kick.
Twisted Nose gin (England)
So, here’s an unusual one for you – gin made from watercress. In the gentle, rolling landscape of Hampshire, the trout sunbathe under crystal clear waters waiting to catch flies hovering in the blue skies above them. It just so happens that these crystal clear chalk streams are also the perfect place to grow watercress. The Winchester Distillery has created Twisted Nose gin. It’s a delicious, peppery dry gin based on everybody’s favorite salad fixing. And it is delicious.
With 10 botanicals complementing the obligatory juniper and the peppery freshness of the watercress cutting through clearly, this gin is refreshingly unique. It’s a bright, subtle gin made by hand in a copper still using local spring water and locally sourced botanicals. Why Twisted Nose? Apparently, the Romans knew watercress as Nasturtium – which is Latin for twisted nose.
The perfect serve: This dry, spicy gin deserves a good tonic water. We suggest pouring 50ml of Twisted Nose into a copa glass, fill it with large ice cubes and top it up with some delicious elderflower tonic water. Or for a purer taste, stay simple with Fever Tree Indian tonic water.
Entropia Ginseng and Guarana gin (Spain)
This little baby is hard to find but it’s delicious. Made in small batches it includes 14 natural botanicals including juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peel. Add some angelica root and orange blossom and infuse it with nutmeg and ginger. Then add the vital ingredients of Guarana and Ginseng for a healthy natural energy boost. What you end up with is a distinctive golden gin with a fresh citrus taste and a uniquely delicious smell. Handmade in Galicia, Spain, this one also comes in a cool bottle that will stand out on your shelf.
The perfect serve: This is a Spanish gin, so start by pouring at least 50 ml of Entropia Ginseng and Guarana gin into a copa glass to get things rolling. Then drop in some large ice cubes before topping up with a classic Indian tonic water to bring out the complex flavours. Then drink, and wait for that Ginseng to do its stuff!
Infused gins are not for everyone – some people find them too sweet and there are certainly many gimmicky flavours out there that do not really merit the word gin. But there are also some great ones – and they don’t have to cost a fortune. It really is a matter of personal preference. So, get out there and explore the wonderful world of flavoured gin. And don’t forget to leave a comment and share what you discover on the Barcelona Gin Facebook page.
Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)
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