Gin owes its taste not to the basic grain. Maturation in barrels has little to do with it either. Instead, gin takes its life from spices, and in particular juniper. Nevertheless, gins differ widely depending on the particular recipe used. There are generally three major styles of gin. Old Tom is a slightly sweet style made popular in the 18th century. Makers of this style include Booth’s and Gilbey’s. The Plymouth style of gin is full bodied, and roundly sweet with fewer of the bitter flavors found in other styles. London Dry is unsweetened and usually very aromatic. Juniper and citrus tend to dominate but other spices will make their presence felt as well. London dry gins currently enjoy the most popularity. An offshoot of sorts, American dry gins are also unsweetened but typically have a lower alcohol content and less body.

We Recommend:

Plymouth (England)

Anyone who counted Churchill, Roosevelt, and Mr. Hitchcock among their clients can be certain to have made a name for themselves. Anyone who once supplied standard rations to the Royal Navy has a right to brag about it. Plymouth gin can boast both these claims. It stands for an entire stylistic genre of gins with multilayered aromas, but in particular great mellowness. Its slight sweetness carries a whole bouquet of herbal aromas from juniper through to lemon and from lilac through to damp earth.


Hendrick’s (Scotland)

Produced in small batches with a harmonizing recipe which includes flowers, roots, fruits and seeds from around the world. But the signature taste of Hendrick’s is achieved from the dual infusions of rose petal and cucumber. Supremely smooth, and a fitting choice for many of the gin cocktail recipes currently in vogue; it mixes well, and will not overpower other ingredients as the juniper is rather restrained.


Tanqueray (England)

The high alcohol content of 47.3% by volume is justified by Tanqueray on the label with the note “Export Strength.” In its many foreign markets few are aware that the bottle is modeled on the shape of a London fire hydrant. The juniper berries are hand picked in September in Tuscany. The coriander comes from the Crimea and the angelica root from Saxony. An excellent choice for a traditional extra dry martini or the classic gin & tonic.


Citadelle (France)

This gin is said to have originated in 1771 in a distillery in Dunkirk, once a major spice port. Apart from the usual juniper, licorice, cardamom, nutmeg, star anise, cinnamon, there are a bevy of secret ingredients. Distilled three times from French wheat and fermented with spring water. The aromatic ingredients are allowed to macerate in this spirit before they are distilled into gin. The bouquet has dominant notes of juniper and citrus fruits and the taste is complex, round, and elegant.