The Bottles – Gin

In our opinion, gin is the trickiest of spirits.  It’s a shape shifter, a blank slate on which almost any flavor can be plied.  Because it starts as a grain neutral spirit – let’s cut to the chase and just call it vodka – it can be floral or herbal, piney or citrusy. It all depends on exactly what botanicals the distiller decides to add and how he or she decides to add them.  There are many, many gins on the market today that are utterly unique.  Hendrick’s seduced me on first whiff with its heady bouquet of cucumber and Bulgarian rose petals; it makes a gorgeous cucumber-tinged gin & tonic. Cadenhead’s Old Raj is the key to the smoothest, high-octane martini you’ll ever taste.  And Tanqueray is amazingly classic stuff, but its 47% ABV isn’t always the best idea in a cocktail.

So the question for us has always been this: If we could only have one gin, what would it be? Ah, that’s the rub. One gin. To make a stellar martini. A classic gin & tonic. A traditional gin fizz. Well, that’s another story. Make no mistake. Leopold’s is still our go-to bottle. Its crisp, citrus character works perfectly in every cocktail we’ve made here at 12BB; its clean taste is refreshing in the way only a well-crafted, balanced gin can be, plus its small batch mystique makes it darn cool to have behind the bar. But, rest assured, there are other bottles that meet our criteria as well, in every price range. Herewith, then, are the 12 Bottle Bar suggestions for gins both “high” and “low”.

 

PREMIUM ($30 – 40 / 750 ml)

Things get a little murky here, boys and girls. The super high-end, “artisan” gins all have their supporters. If you have dineros to burn, try everything you can lay your hands on. If not, these two will serve admirably.

 

Leopold’s American Small Batch Gin

Cardamom and coriander and pummelos, oh my! Dorothy, this is definitely not Kansas anymore. Despite changing the balance of the botanicals, Leopold doesn’t stray from its roots as a true gin of the juniper ilk. It is lovingly made, as the name suggests, in small batches and the care taken shows in each sip.

 

Plymouth Gin

This is the only style of gin with a Designation of Origin under European law, meaning it can only be made in Plymouth, England. Use Plymouth and you will have a singular cocktail experience. Like Leopold’s, there is a strong citrus component. Unlike typical London Dry gins, which are defined by their heady juniper quality, Plymouth uses less juniper and more Angelica root, a botanical that brings a distinct sweetness to the mix.

 

 

MID-RANGE ($15 – $20 / 750 ml)

Beefeater London Dry Gin

Only a bit “younger” than Gordon’s, Beefeater is also one of the original “dry” gins. The 24-hour steeping process used for the botanicals produces a complex brew, with a citrusy, piney personality. Distiller Desmond Payne, who works off the original Beefeater recipe, is an industry guru (he created the fragrant, tea/grapefruit-laced Beefeater 24 which was introduced in 2008). This gin is, in a word, classic.

 

 

BUDGET ($10 or less / 750 ml)

Gordon’s London Dry Gin

Gordon’s is probably the gin that your grandmother drank, if she drank gin that is. It is the most popular gin in the world and, even though it’s now made in America, it retains its essential lemony, juniper character, making it a dependable mixer at a supremely low price point. Plus, as one of the original post-Gin Craze London Dry gins, it has some cool history on its side –when it was first exported to Australia, the Aussies paid for it in gold dust.

 

 

As time goes on, we will happily bend your ear with our gin-ventures. New gins are coming to market every day and many of them are reinventing the way we think of gin. Gin is no longer just “dry”. It’s sweet and earthy, herbal and perfumey. From Whitley Neill’s baobab fruit to Caorunn’s Scottish heather, the new gins are remaking the playing field. Will we use them as our bottle of choice? You never know. But the journey – along the gin road and all the others — sure will be fun. Stay tuned for further spirits reboots in the following months.

50 Responses to “The Bottles – Gin”

  1. Kelly
    April 1, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

    I adore Leopold’s! What do you think of Hendricks gin?

    • April 2, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

      I also love Hendricks. We probably have about 10 gins on-hand at most times (my wife is writing a book on the subject), and I would say my favorites are: Leopolds, Plymouth, Hendricks, and Hayman’s Old Tom. There’s nothing better in a Pimms than Hendricks, but when I had to pick one, I found Leopolds the most versatile for cocktails.

  2. Lars
    May 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    Amy loves Fitzgeralds… I think we will try those next. We have Hendricks on hand so will use that.

  3. September 14, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    I’ve been drinking gin (on the rocks) my entire adult life, and as any gin drinker knows, that means I’m something of a booze outcast. Most of the time, and certainly before the recent mini explosion in gin availability, I’d get Bombay Sapphire since it was widely distributed and passably good. Recently though, I’ve had a chance to try a brand called Right gin, and it is amazing. Super clean, super smooth, so much so it may perhaps be too subtle for aficionados of dry or malty gins. I respect small, local distillers, but their products aren’t necessarily better for that sake. Dogfish Head, which is a brewery based in nearby Delaware, makes a gin that tastes like rosemary and soap. Love your blog, keep it up. Here’s mine.

    • September 14, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

      Thanks for reading, Henry. I haven’t tried Right yet, but I look forward to. And I do agree with you – artisanal doesn’t always mean better. What’s funny is that certain gins are horrible straight and phenomenal in cocktails. Go figure.

      I am bugging my wife for cobbler for dessert as I type this.

  4. eli
    April 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    So I am from Ontario and we have a more limited selection of gins here (no Leopold). Have you ever tried Victoria gin? It is a small batch product from Brittish Columbia. If so, do you find it comparable to Leopold’s?

    • April 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      Eli – Haven’t tried Victoria, but any gin you like is fine by us. If you can get Plymouth there, it’s a great bottle. We also pour a lot of Beefeater and Tanqueray around the house.

  5. leann
    June 29, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    If you can you should try Broker’s gin it’s a very traditional London dry that is exceptional. Although I too keep hendrick’s around so I can make Pimmlets.

    • Colleen
      October 24, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

      I’m in love with Broker’s; it mixes REALLY well, and it’s pretty tasty on it’s own too.  Work’s great with tonic as well… Cheers!

    • Morga
      April 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

      Broker’s has become my go-to gin for most applications.  I love how the scent is woodsy without being overly astringent.  Though I think they may have recently tweaked it? 

      I do think that the mild sweetness of Plymouth makes it the top choice for a Negroni.  Watershed, if you can get it, is sublime with just a dash of St Germain, served cold & up.  

      • twelvebottles
        April 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

        Not sure if they’ve tweaked the recipe. Thanks for adding some other recommendations. Keep ‘em coming,

  6. September 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    The Beefeaters at my closest big liquour store here in upstate New York was $23 a liter, a bit too much for me right now. So I ended up with a gin called “New Amsterdam”. I wish I could afford Leopold’s, but not in these times. 

    • twelvebottles
      October 1, 2011 at 10:15 am #

      Try the Gordon’s.

    • Morga
      April 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

      New Amsterdam is a good value. It’s not the most exciting gin out there, but it’s good for mixing up a bunch of Tom Collinses or G&Ts for a party. 

  7. Anonymous
    January 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Have you ever tried a French gin called Citadelle? While I usually stick to Bombay Sapphire or Gordon’s (depending on budgetary status) I picked up a bottle of it on sale. Enjoyed it a lot actually, very interesting gin.

  8. Chandler
    October 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    I recently discovered your page and do enjoy the bits on information contained in it. I found Plymouth Gin a few years back and have since discovered many others. Ransom makes a great barrel aged, darker Old Tom gin. Give it a try. It too has a citrusy flavor profile to it, but unlike most gins, it is dark in color. Fantastic product.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] Posted on October 21, 2010 by twelvebottles| Leave a comment 0.75 oz Leopold’s Gin 0.75 oz Dry Vermouth 5 drops of Lime [...]

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    [...] up to your own taste buds to determine the right balance. As for the brand of Gin check out what 12 Bottle Bar have to say on the matter and for more info on the classic drink. This one was enjoyed at [...]

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