Gin: The Unsung Hero Of Liquors

Above: Why should vodka and whiskey get all the attention?
Above: Why should vodka and whiskey get all the attention?

When it comes to hard liquor, gin isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. It’s kind of an afterthought for when vodka, whiskey or even tequila aren’t available. That is, until you experience a really well made gin and tonic. Then you’ll wonder what took you so long to jump on the gin bandwagon.

The great thing about gin is the flavour can be extremely diverse depending on what botanicals the distiller chooses to use. The only constant is a strong juniper berry flavour (that’s the “evergreen tree” taste you may have heard about) and from there distillers will use anything from citrus to nuts and spices to set their gin apart.

There are two ways distillers flavour their gin. They either add flavours to a distilled spirit and bottle it or infuse botanicals into the spirit by distilling them together. “London gin”, such as Beefeater, has to be flavoured during the distillation process.

The number one gin-based cocktail is of course the classic G&T. It’s one of the most simple recipes out there—all you need is your favourite gin, some tonic water and a lime wedge or two. If you want to elevate it a little bit, there are some small batch tonics and bitters made by Dillon’s or Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. (Cocktail Emporium in Toronto’s Kensington Market or BYOB Cocktail Emporium on West Queen West has an impressive selection of both).

So what kind of gin makes the best G&T? That all depends on your tastes—and your budget. But here are a few must-try brands.

Beefeater
$28.20 at the LCBO for a 750mL bottle
Produced right in London, England since 1863, Beefeater is one of the world’s most awarded gins. It’s an authentic London dry gin with a strong juniper flavour with citrus notes. It’s also probably the gin you’ll get if you order a G&T at most bars or restaurants.

Bombay Sapphire
$29.15 at the LCBO for a 750mL bottle
Another London dry gin, the unique flavour of Bombay Sapphire is created from a combination of ten botanicals including juniper berries from Tuscany. The flavour is considered more subtle and floral than Beefeater.

Hendrick’s
$50.20 at the LCBO for a 750mL bottle
Made in Scotland, Hendrick’s gin has a bold and floral flavour thanks to its Bulgarian Rosa Damascena and cucumber infusion. Eleven more botanicals mingle with the rose and cucumber to create a creamier texture than your typical dry gin.

Tanqueray Rangpur Gin
$30.10 at the LCBO for a 750mL bottle
Tanqueray makes a traditional London dry gin, but their Rangpur gin offers something a little different. Flavoured with the Rangpur lime, this one has a more citrus flavour mixed with lemongrass, mandarin and ginger.

Boodles Gin
$30.20 at the LCBO for a 750mL bottle
This traditional London dry gin is named after the famous private gentleman’s club of London. It’s distilled from British wheat and infused with a combination of traditional herbs and spices avoiding citrus altogether. The result is a silky smooth finish that pairs perfectly with lemon or lime flavours.

Xolato Gin
$67.60 at the LCBO for a 500mL bottle
You might not be drinking this one all night long but it’s an interesting option for an after dinner drink. Made with 46 different botanicals including vanilla pods, hazelnuts and almond, Xolato Gin focuses on cocoa beans to create a flavour profile you probably won’t find in any other gin.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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