9 Popular Brands of Gin You Need to Taste

  • 01 of 09

    There Are Many Gin in the World, Only a Few Rank at the Top

    Pouring a Gin & Tonic at the Bar
    pjohnson1/E+/Getty Images

    Gin is an interesting category of liquor and it is growing more diverse with every passing year. Yet, there are a number of brands of gin that have become our tried and true favorites. These are the bottles that we can rely on for a great Gin & Tonic and can be found almost anywhere.

    While brands like Beefeater and Tanqueray are at the top of our list for a good London dry gin, we cannot forget about other popular bottles. Among those are the classic styles of gin like Bols Genever and...MORE Hayman's Old Tom Gin, as well as new stars on the liquor shelf like Aviation and Hendrick's.

    The Diversity of Gin

    The aspect we can enjoy most about gin is its diversity. Unlike vodka, each bottle of gin truly is unique. The majority feature that pine flavor that comes from juniper, which is gin's signature ingredient, yet no two bottles have the same combination of botanicals. 

    This array of flavors is what keeps many gin lovers coming back. It also keeps us from getting bored. If you have ​found yourself in a Martini rut, simply pour from a different bottle of gin and your drink is transformed!

    The newer styles that don't have the juniper-forward flavor are commonly referred to as 'New Western Dry Gin' and these have a broader appeal. For drinkers who do not enjoy gin's piney characteristics, the likes of Hendrick's can open up a new world of cocktails.

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  • 02 of 09

    Beefeater London Dry Gin

    Beefeater London Dry Gin
    Photo Courtesy: © Beefeater Gin

    Beefeater is one of the biggest names in the gin business and it has not lost any of its appeal. This is a gin that you can find in any liquor store or bar and trust to make a good gin cocktail, no matter what you mix it with.

    You will find that Beefeater has that classic London dry gin flavor. It is juniper-forward and has a nice balance of botanicals in the background. It also comes at a decent price of right around $20, so you can afford to keep it in stock.

    More Gin From Beefeater

    If you enjoy...MORE the standard bottle of Beefeater, keep an eye out for the brand's special bottlings. Beefeater 24 is a regular offering that is a nice upgrade and they often come out with limited editions.

    The Summer Edition from 2010 was amazing and, in 2016, you can find the lovely London Garden on your trip to London. Beefeater Burroughs Reserve Gin is one of the brand's more recent ultra-premium gins and it's worth checking out as well.

    Enjoy Beefeater in These Cocktails

    About Beefeater Gin

    • Gin distilled of neutral spirits with juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peels, angelica root and seed, licorice, almond, and orris root.
    • Distilled by Beefeater Gin at a Kensington, London distillery since the 1870's.
    • Imported by Pernod Ricard
    • 40% alcohol/volume (80 proof)
    • Retails for around $22/750ml bottle
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  • 03 of 09

    Tanqueray London Dry Gin

    The iconic seal of Tanqueray London Dry Gin
    Photo Courtesy: Shannon Graham

    There is a beautiful gin inside this distinct green bottle with its red wax seal. Tanqueray's crisp, dry style is the benchmark for London dry gin without any citrus in the botanicals. It is a standard to which all other gins are compared and contrasted.

    Tanqueray London Dry Gin is bottled at a slightly higher strength than most gin (43.1-47.3% depending on the market) and this makes the flavor profile beautifully bold. You can mix this gin into any cocktail and it won't get lost. It is...MORE the perfect choice for mixing a balanced drink.

    More Gin From Tanqueray

    Once you discover the joy of Tanqueray, be sure to check out the brand's other offerings. Tanqueray No. 10 is another icon of the bar that is at a higher proof as well but this one has a lighter mix of botanicals.

    If you like really light gin, give Tanqueray Rangpur a try because you will love the Rangpur lime added to it. If you ever come across it again, pick up a bottle of Tanqueray Malacca or their version of an Old Tom gin. Both of these sweeter gins are ideal for classic cocktails.

    Enjoy Tanqueray in These Cocktails

    About Tanqueray Gin

    • Gin distilled four times with just four botanicals: juniper, coriander, angelica root and seed and licorice.
    • Distilled since the 1870's, now produced at Camron Bridge in Edinburgh, Scotland, one of Europe's largest distilleries.
    • Imported by Diageo
    • 47.3% alcohol/volume (94.6 proof)
    • Retails for around $25/750ml bottle
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  • 04 of 09

    Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin

    Pouring Bombay Sapphire Gin over ice for a Gin & Tonic.
    frytka / E+ / Getty Images

    If you look at the list of botanicals in Bombay Sapphire you will notice a few differences from other London dry gins. Grains of paradise, almond and cubeb berries are not your average gin ingredients and those help this bottle stand apart from the crowd.

    It will work equally well in your dry Martinis and your fruity Gimlets or Floradoras. If you want a great gin cocktail, try Bombay Sapphire.

    More Gin From Bombay

    Bombay produces two other gins which are not as well-known, but equally good bottles...MORE of gin. Bombay Sapphire East adds lemongrass and black pepper to the mix for an interesting twist. Bombay Dry Gin is crisp, clean and has just eight botanicals, otherwise, it is very similar to Sapphire.

    Enjoy Bombay Sapphire in These Cocktails

    About Bombay Sapphire Gin

    • London dry gin vapor infused with juniper, almond, grains of paradise, lemon peel, licorice, orris root, angelica, coriander, cassia bark, cubeb berries.
    • Distilled in Chesire, England
    • Launched in 1987, based on 1761 recipe.
    • Imported by Bombay Spirits Company
    • Distributed by Bacardi Limited
    • 47% alcohol/volume (94 proof)
    • Retails for around $22/750ml bottle
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  • 05 of 09

    Martin Miller's London Dry Gin

    Martin Miller's Gin - Premium London Dry Gin
    Photo Courtesy: © Martin Miller's Gin

    If you are seeking a London dry gin that makes a magnificent Martini, look no further than Martin Miller's Gin. It is one of the newer names in this tight market, yet in the almost two decades since its launch, it has quickly risen to the ranks of the best gins available.

    Martin Miller's is a modern take on traditional gin. It has that wonderful juniper dominance we look for in a London dry and it is perfectly balanced, crisp, clean and simply an extravagant gin.

    The price isn't half...MORE bad either. It is competitive with other premium gins without going over the top to make it unattainable by the masses. This is a gin that you will want to save for your gin martinis and relish every sip as you enjoy a quality cocktail.

    More Gin From Martin Miller's

    Martin Miller's Westbourne Strength will be the next step in your exploration of this brand. This bottle is a little stronger at 45% ABV, which makes it another fantastic option for any gin cocktail you want to pour it in. You will not lose any of that signature gin flavor with this option!

    Enjoy Martin Miller's Gin in These Cocktails

    About Martin Miller's Gin

    • Double-distilled English gin produced in a two-stage distillate: juniper, coriander, angelica, licorice root, cassia bark, Florentine Iris, lime peel in the first distillation. Bitter orange peel, lemon peel, and lime peel in the second. Finished with Icelandic glacial water.
    • Produced by Martin Miller's Gin in England's Black Country
    • Launched in 1999
    • 40% alcohol/volume (80 proof)
    • Retails for around $28/750mL bottle
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  • 06 of 09

    Aviation American Gin

    Easy and Fresh Watermelon Cucumber Cooler Aviation Gin Cocktail Recipe
    Photo Courtesy: © Aviation Gin

    Aviation American Gin was one of the first brands to launch that made us rethink what gin can be. It was at the forefront of the movement for gins with a softer juniper profile that is often handcrafted in small batches.

    This gin revolution has brought the spirit's appeal to a wider audience of drinkers. The style quickly became known as New Western Dry Gin.

    The lovely part about Aviation is that it is so lovely. When you crack the bottle, you are greeted with a floral bouquet dominated by...MORE lavender and backed up by a subtle spice. The juniper and citrus characteristic of gin is apparent but appear more as background elements in the taste. 

    Aviation's choice of a rye base gives this gin a creamier mouthfeel than most gins. It is a gin that you can enjoy chilled on its own (great news for super dry Martini fans).

    Try it in a Tom Collins or any classic drink, including its namesake. Mix it into modern cocktails with that culinary flare. Anyway, you choose to use it, Aviation does not disappoint.

    Enjoy Aviation Gin in These Cocktails

    About Aviation Gin

    • Hand-crafted American gin distilled from neutral grain spirit with 100% rye base. Flavored with juniper, anise seed, Elletaria cardamom, coriander, lavender, sweet orange peel and sarsparilla.
    • Produced by House Spirits Distillery of Portland, Oregon.
    • Launched in 2006.
    • 42% alcohol/volume (84 proof)
    • Retails for around $30/750mL bottle
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  • 07 of 09

    Hendrick's Gin

    Hendrick's Gin and an Old Sydney Town Punch
    Photo Courtesy: Hendrick's Gin

    Hendrick's is a completely different gin experience than every other bottle you can find. In fact, this bottle of gin made the bartending community rethink what gin is. Along with Aviation, it helped define modern gin.

    Many aspects of Hendrick's Gin make it unique and special. It is produced in Scotland and uses two stills from which two batches of gin are married. Yet, it is the final step, an infusion of rose petal and cucumber, that has come to define this gin.

    The result of...MORE Hendrick's unique process is a refreshing gin that can easily stand on its own and is fantastic in new cocktail recipes. As you can see from the list below, Hendrick's is the gin you will want when mixing drinks with fresh ingredients and it pairs well with almost any flavor.

    Hendrick's will be the gin used to introduce vodka drinkers to this category. It is a light-flavored initiation because the juniper is far in the background. I recommend your first Hendrick's drink be a simple Gin & Tonic garnished with a cucumber slice.

    Enjoy Hendrick's Gin in These Cocktails

    About Hendrick's Gin

    • Small batch gin distilled from two spirits in two different copper stills. Flavored with juniper, angelica root, caraway, chamomile, coriander, cubeb berry, elderflower, lemon, orange peel, orris root, and yarrow. Infused with cucumber and rose petal before bottling.
    • Produced at the Girvan Distillery in Girvan, Scotland.
    • Imported by William Grant & Sons, Inc.
    • Launched in 2001.
    • 44% alcohol/volume (88 proof)
    • Retails for around $38/750mL bottle
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  • 08 of 09

    Bols Genever

    Bols Genever and the Old Sydney Town Punch
    Photo Courtesy: Lucas Bols

    We've looked at modern gin, now it's time to go old-school and get a taste of two gin brands that have revived the oldest gin recipes in the world. We begin with the oldest of the two, genever.

    Sometimes called Dutch gin or Holland gin, genever is a sweetened style of gin that originated in the Netherlands. Today, it is only distilled there and in a few areas within that part of Europe. The biggest name in genever is Bols and it is one of the few brands that is available worldwide.

    If you...MORE have yet to taste genever, believe me when I say that it is unlike any other gin you've had. It is as if a soft Scotch whiskey were married with gin and Bols' malty feel is a perfect example. It has a wonderful balance of sweet malt and subdued juniper and citrus.

    Bols Genever is fun to play with in cocktails, especially the classics. Its hybrid feel gives each drink a new spin, like the Gin Daisy. You can even use it as a substitute in many whiskey cocktails.

    Bols Genever Cocktails

    About Bols Genever

    • Dutch genever from Lucas Bols' original 1820 recipe.
    • Triple distilled using 50% malt wine and neutral grain spirits, infused with natural flavors.
    • Imported from Holland.
    • Bols was on the U.S. market until Prohibition and was not available again until the summer of 2008.
    • 42% alcohol/volume (84 proof)
    • Retails for around $38/750ml bottle
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  • 09 of 09

    Hayman's Old Tom Gin

    Hayman's Old Tom Gin
    Photo Courtesy: Hayman's

    The story of Old Tom Gin is complicated and it dates back to the 1700's when almost any English gin was called 'Old Tom.' Like genever, this old style of gin was sweetened to mask the impurities created by the distillation process of the day. It is significantly softer than the London dry gins that eventually took over the market.

    Hayman's Old Tom Gin is one of the best examples of this old world style of gin. It is based on a family recipe from the 1870's. You will find it to...MORE be very aromatic and filled with rich flavors and it is a true delight for any gin lover.

    Old Tom Gin was the gin of the Victorian period and it was the gin of choice for the first bartenders. Jerry Thomas calls for this style in almost every cocktail recipe that doesn't use 'Holland Gin' (genever). His contemporaries considered Old Tom an essential in the bar.

    That said, you need to experience Hayman's Old Tom Gin in every classic cocktail that calls for gin. Even if you have had Martini a million times, switching to Old Tom is a new experience. 

    More Gin From Hayman's

    Hayman's produces a variety of gin styles and liqueurs, all of which use the same botanical mix in various strengths. You may be surprised by the brand's London dry gin as well as Hayman's Family Reserve. Royal Dock is the brand's navy strength gin and sloe gin fans will be delighted to know that Hayman's version of the liqueur is one of the best.

    Enjoy Hayman's Old Tom Gin in These Cocktails

    About Hayman's Old Tom Gin

    • Distilled in a copper pot still named "Marjorie." The botanical list is the same for all Hayman's gins: juniper, angelica root, cassia bark, cinnamon, coriander seed, lemon peel, liquorice, nutmeg, orange peel and orris root
    • Produced by Hayman Distillers of Witham, England.
    • Launched in 2007.
    • 40% alcohol/volume (80 proof)
    • Retails for around $33/750mL bottle