London Dry Gin is a staple of any well-stocked bar, whether for a classic G&T or a more exotic cocktail. Here are 7 of the best London Dry Gin brands:
Gin has had something of a renaissance in the last few years, going from something occasionally enjoyed by the Queen Mum to an artisan product served up in every bar in Hackney. The bottles often carry the words ‘London Dry Gin’, which many of us take for granted, but what do they actually mean? Before we get to the fun bit about drinking gin, and what it tastes like, here’s the legal bit. London Dry Gin, which arrived in the early 1800s, is seen by many as a flavour designation, but in reality it’s a legal process designation – and it doesn’t mean it has to be made in London either, London Dry Gin can come from anywhere in the world. For a gin to lay claim to being London Dry Gin the base spirit must be distilled to a completely neutral spirit of at least 96%. Only 0.1 grams of sugar per liter can be added after distillation and London Gin must not be colored in any way. The result is the juniper-heavy taste that most associate with gin, often with a touch of pine, that is simple and honest and ready for whatever a bartender can thrown at it, whether that’s a classic tonic and lemon, a winter cocktail with Aperol, or grenadine to make a Pink Gin Fizz – the options are endless with this diverse and quaffable spirit.
Tanqueray London Dry Gin
Charles Tanqueray created his London Dry Gin in the 1830s and more than 150 years later it started to receive an unlikely marketing push that the son of an English clergymen may not have approved of. The gin, which comes in an iconic green bottle, was adopted as gangsta rap’s drink of choice, being name-checked and enjoyed by a host of the world’s best spitters, including Snoop Dogg, Tupac and Biggie. Tanqueray hasba really distinct juniper note, then comes cinnamon, aniseed and coriander seed. Well suited to a gin martini.
Highclere Castle Gin
Fun fact: Highclere Castle, the roots of this eponymous gin, which is inspired by botanicals hand chosen from the property’s herb gardens, is the filming location for Downton Abbey. The London Dry Gin itself is a classy as the aristocrats in the fictional show too, with a fine balance of juniper, lime flower, orange peel and a touch of lavender – it is distilled from a blend of botanicals grown on Highclere Castle’s ancient estate including vibrant oranges from the Victorian Orangery. It’s so good that Highclere Castle Gin has picked up over 100 spirit awards worldwide.
Beefeater London Dry Gin
It may be a staple of the airport duty free bargain bin, but Beefeater is still one of the best dry gins to chuck with fresh lemon, tonic and a few lumps of ice. It has that quintessential big juniper character and strong citrus notes, and still uses founder James Burrough’s original recipe of nine botanicals featuring bold juniper, zesty Seville orange and lemon peel. If it tastes familiar then that’s a good thing – Beefeater, which is still bottled in the UK, is the taste of a good G&T.
Bombay Sapphire Gin
Don’t let the blue bottle, which looks a little bit like like anti-freeze, fool you – Bombay Sapphire is one of the best dry gins around. Master herbalist, Ivano Tonutti, hand selects all the ingredients from around before they are gently steam infused, a unique distillation process produces that produces more delicate and subtle flavors. The result is a smooth and complex taste that includes licorice from China and coriander seed from Morocco. With such a lively taste, Bombay Sapphire works really well in a Gin Mule or Gin Spritz.
Hayman’s London Dry Gin
Hayman’s is a gin company that dates back 160 years and still going strong. It still features the original recipe, with notes of juniper, exotic spice and lively citrus. This is a reasonably-priced gin that is crisp and complex and wonderfully refreshing mixed with tonic. Our advice would be to mix it up in a Negroni or as a smooth Martini.
Crafter’s London Dry Gin
It may not be one you see in every bar, but this Estonian gin has a century of tradition behind it. Created by the Liviko distillery, one of the largest alcohol companies in the Baltics, Crafter’s London Dry Gin is made with the company’s award-winning recipe No. 23. The result is a decidedly fresh-tasting gin thanks to crisp, citrusy juniper, herbs such as fennel and all mellowed by soft veronica flowers. Just in the background is a gentle accompaniment of pine and spices too. Keep it simple and have Crafter’s Dru Gin with tonic and a sprig of rosemary.
If you’re looking for a London Dry Gin that’s still actually made in London, look no further than Fords. This London Dry Gin is the brainchild of spirits and bar-world heavy hitter Simon Ford and Charles Maxwell, an 11th generation distiller whose family started making gin in London in the 17th Century. The gin is distilled for five hours in copper stills crafted by the legendary John Dore still-making company for the Thames Distillery, before being taken to Scotland where it is cut with pure spring water. The result is a strong, balanced flavour that makes it the perfect starting block for pretty much any classic gin cocktail.