The ultimate A-Z guide to gin
- Credit: Archant
Adnams Copper House, Black Shuck and Suffolk-made sloe gin - how many of these East Anglian spirits have you sampled?
To help you choose which to try next - and because we are gearing up for World Gin Day on Saturday, June 8 - we have brought you an A-Z guide of must-try local gins. Enjoy!
Adnams Copper House Dry Gin
A multi-award-winning tipple expertly distilled at the state-of-the-art facility in Southwold, using traditional methods. Named the world's best a few years back, this one's made with six botanicals, initially revealing those classic juniper vibes, before smoothing out to give over orange and hibiscus. It's made with the brand's spirit, crafted from East Anglian malted barley. Also in the range of a raspberry pink gin, First Rate Triple Malt, Rising Sun and Quince. If you want to make your own flavours get over to the Southwold or Bury St Edmunds stores.
Archangel Distilleries - Archangel Gin
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This gin literally has spirit. Not only is the distillery found on the pilgrimage route to Walsingham, but the label is heavily influenced by Watts Cemetery in Surrey, and St Peter's Church in Dunton is minutes away. Each bottle is finished with Walsingham water. Smooth and heady, the gin uses some locally grown ingredients, with the farm producing its own juniper and sea buckthorn. Botanicals include juniper, verbena, orange peel and sea buckthorn. Try it straight from the freezer with a twist of orange peel and premium Indian tonic water.
Betty's Gin - Heart of Suffolk Distillery
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Owner Karen and her husband named this gin after her mother, who lived just half a mile from the distillery in the middle of Suffolk. Only 65 bottles are produced in every batch, using nine hand-crushed botanicals - from liquorice and aniseed to angelica root, bitter orange, star anise and cassia bark. For the summer there's also a fruity Rosie's Gin and for the cooler months Ivy's Gin, with clove and cranberry.
Black Bridge Distillery gins
No more than 60 to 80 bottles at a time are produced using the purest cuts of spirit for these drinks made in Hertfordshire. The Classic is redolent with juniper and citrus notes, there's a Lime and Rhubarb gin. But the bestseller is Blue Admiral, which miraculously changes colour when you add tonic - fancy that! Serve with grapefruit zest.
Black Shuck White Label Gin
Named for the legendary Norfolk spirit of a shuck, the original gin has a modern twist, elevating juniper and coriander with bitter orange peel, Norfolk lavender and sea buckthorn. Serve with loads of ice and orange zest. Other must-tries in the range are a Blush gin with strawberries and rhubarb and a Passion gin with 15 botanicals, from passion fruit to elderflower, grapefruit and lime flower. Gorgeous for summer.
Take a moment to appreciate the dazzling jewel-like bottle - a nod to the woad used by the Iceni tribe. Steph and Matt Brown of Wild Knight, who produce the gin, looked back at what was available in Boadicea's time to find the herbs and extracts needed to bring it to life. Using their own vodka (made with East Anglian barley) as a base, they add nettle, orris root, lemon, orange and thyme for a slightly savoury finish. Newer in the range is the Rosa gin, which has peach and cherry notes.
Bullards London Dry Gin
Made in Norwich, this award-winning spirit is sold in wonderful vintage-style bottles. It's distilled with juniper, cinnamon, cardamom and tonka bean, which gives it a balanced, luxuriously touch of vanilla on the palate. For summer try out the Strawberry and Black Peppercorn gin - fab topped up with fizz. Or their Old Tom, with pink and black peppercorns and cassia bark. It has a sweeter finish than the original and is ideal with tonic and grapefruit peel.
Cambridge Dry Gin - Cambridge Distillery
Ooh they do things differently here. In fact, innovation should be their middle name. The original gin is inspired by master distiller William's walks with his dog. It's strewn with British countryside infusions of juniper, rosemary, angelica, lemon verbena, blackcurrant leaf and rose petals, with a dash of basil. Herbaceous and rounded this one's lovely with fresh mint sprigs on ice. Look out too for their truly quirky gins - be that the Curator, made in partnership with Cambridge University Botanic Garden, the Japanese gin, or the Truffle gin, distilled with white truffles from Piedmont.
The founders of Puddingstone Distillery in Hertfordshire, near the Chiltern Hills, associate gin with sitting around an open fire watching the stars. And that's the inspiration for their award-winning brand. The Campfire London Dry is a distillation of 10 botanicals, from orange and rooibos, to hazelnuts and juniper. It's best neat over ice or in cocktails.
Carpenter's Distillery in Suffolk have created a classic, easy drinking gin. Made in small batches of up to 80 bottles, those traditional botanicals of coriander seed, orris root juniper are there, buoyed by layers of American oak chip, almond powder and Spanish lemon and orange peel. A good one for cocktails.
Copper in the Clouds Distillery
OK, so the packaging alone is enough to draw you towards these Hertfordshire-made bottles of joy. Gifted with intricate illustrations, each bottle has its own story and links to the rural countryside surrounding Dowsetts Farm where it's made. Flowerbomb is fresh with pink rose petals, lavender, chamomile, jasmine and heather with a touch of orange blossom. And the Hertfordshire Dry Gin goes in with juniper, before sparkling with hints of peppercorn, cardamom, lemon verbena, nettle, lemon balm and orris root.
DJ Fruit Wines and Liqueurs Sweet Sloe Gin
A bottle of this is the ideal accompaniment to a plate of cheese at the end of dinner. It's also marvellous drizzled over a fruit sorbet or ice cream. Made in Monk Soham with fresh sloes in season, it's one of the best around. Grab a bottle to try now, and in winter drizzle a spoonful into warmed up cider for a fireside treat.
The spirit of the fens in a bottle. If you like to dare to be different check this lot out. The Special Dry original gin means business, with its classic vibes, but there's nothing ordinary about the rest of the gins which are flavoured with anything from dark chocolate, to pink grapefruit, sloes, rhubarb, raspberry and even South African red bush tea. Nice for gifting to your gin loving buddies.
This one's the makers' love letter to the Suffolk coast, being distilled with carefully foraged sea herbs and rare botanicals sourced by the team's own expert botanist. There's fennelly spignel, rock samphire flowers, smoky wood avens, resiny bog myrtle. It's nice on the rocks, but dazzles when you add a sprig of fresh mint and a dash of elderflower cordial.
The makers of this gin from Suffolk come from a family of sugar beet farmers. So, of course, the base is their own vodka (Flint) crafted from local beet. Chrissie of Hardings and Flint says the gin is one for non-gin drinkers (herself included). Baskets of hibiscus, rose, burdock, orange, rosemary and juniper give it its distinctive taste.
Packaged in a ceramic bottle that begs to be filled with flowers at the end of its life, Norfolk Gin is a cracker. Smooth. Aromatic. Delicate hints at sweetness. The juniper is there, but it's the headiness of cardamom that hits you when you drink this. Only 24 bottles are made per batch. It is absolutely superb with ice, a slice of orange and fresh thyme which showcase it at its best.
Janet knows her flavours. You only have to try her jams and marmalades (Peachey's Preserves) to know that. A few years ago she turned her hand to distilling, using the London Dry method and her 30lt still, Lucky. The base spirit sings with juniper, cardamom, orange, lemon and vanilla, with the flavoured range including a Marmalade Gin, Sloe Gin and Gooseberry Gin - all made with locally-picked fruits or homemade condiments. Luscious is the word for these ones.
If you're having a party and want a summery, juicy drink, how about prosecco with a generous dash of Pinkster? Made with ripe raspberries, which give it a dainty pink hue, the gin is at once dry and fruity. All the berries are afterwards turned into Gin Jam or Boozy Berries. Yummy.
The word Reliquum means 'all that remains', which is apt for this spirit. Made on the family fruit farm in north Essex, the base is an eau de vie produced from their own apples, giving a floral essence. The gins (made in collaboration with Dr John Waters of the English Spirit Distillery) are then infused with lush, plump, ripe fruits, from the Plum gin made with Lizzies, to a decadent apricot gin.
Roundwood London Dry Gin
Handcrafted in Cambridgeshire in a converted barn surrounded by woodlands, there's a beautiful simplicity to this ultra small batch drink. Citrussy and peppery, it's made with juniper, coriander, elderflower and elderberries.
Foraged berries and flowers give this Essex gin some welly. All the gins in the range beg to be turned into cocktails, or sipped with fizz or lashings of ice this summer - from Marmalade gin to Raspberry gin. The insect illustrations on the bottles, inspired by local naturalist John Ray, are delightful.
St Giles Gin
Founder Simon has travelled all over the world in his career as a professional diver - and tried an awful lot of gins along the way, so it was a passion to try and make his own. Alongside wife Alison and their distiller Pete Margree, St Giles Gin came to life, made in custom-built still, Anna.
The gin takes its name from the St Giles area of London (infamous for the spirit) and also for the Norwich road where Simon and Alison have a shop. Blended with 11 botanicals, this is a smooth, floral, aromatic, gently sweet gin, distilled with exotic grains of paradise, lemongrass and rose petals. It needs little more than ice and lime zest to accompany it as the flavour speaks for itself. Also in the range of a divers' edition and fruity raspberry, rhubarb and ginger gin.
Suffolk Dry Gin
Master distiller and chemist Gary Wilkinson has always wanted to make his own gin. And so he did. This is another classic drop, made with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible for the secret recipe, which includes the not so secret juniper, coriander, cassia bark, liquorice and cinnamon. It's very quaffable and lends itself to cocktail-making. A navy strength is available too.
The Tiny Tipple Company
These small batch drinks take the best small batch spirits and elevate them with fruits and essences from Suffolk hedgerows, gardens and allotments. In the range are Norfolk Pear and Cardamom gin, Damson gin, Rhubarb gin, Rhubarb and Ginger gin, Elderflower gin, Strawberry and Basil gin, and Gooseberry and Elderflower gin. All are fabulous with fizz or lemonade, or cooled over ice - even ice cream.
Tiptree Fruit Gin Liqueur
Tiptree take soft fruits grown on their own farms and plunge them into Hayman's London Dry Gin to make almost dessert-tasting drinks which are gorgeous over ice or with bubbles. Flavours include English Strawberry, English Damson, English Rhubarb and English Raspberry. Pour over vanilla ice cream or a bowl of ripe strawberries and you have a feast worth savouring.
A fun new Noroflk brand. The London Dry Gin infuses juniper, coriander, orange, lavender and sea samphire. They've also got a Tawny Orange gin, and handily sell HootFruit too. That's a parcel of seven dried fruits to garnish your gin - lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
British potatoes are magically transformed into the base spirit for this brand's Orange Gin. It's a bright, uplifting, sunny day kind of drink, made with juniper, tangerine, Seville orange, lemon, coriander, bay and macadamia nuts. Another one to enjoy pure and unadulterated on the rocks.