12 best flavoured gins
From clotted cream to quince, get adventurous with the juniper-based spirit
Gin lovers, grab a glass, take a seat and get comfortable. If you thought you’d successfully tasted your way around your local’s gin shelf and discovered your favourite, get set to revaluate your choices, for there’s a brave new world out there.
It’s time to get acquainted with flavoured gin. From clotted cream to Yorkshire tea, quince to strawberry jam; you name it, someone, somewhere has added it to a gin. And with an increasingly sophisticated – and bonkers – array of flavours now available, it might be high time you tried one.
What do we mean by flavour? These are not liqueurs, which are sweetened and much lower in strength. Instead, these are full strength gins, where the flavours have been infused, distilled into, or added through aging in casks. That means the majority sit around 40% and are best for mixing. We’ve selected our final list based on the quality and strength of flavour, how that works with the gin, as well as considering value for money and potential ways to mix it.
So, after all that sipping and shaking, here’s our pick of the best. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
1. The Wrecking Coast Distillery Cornish Clotted Cream Gin, 44%: £37.50 for 700ml, Amazon
The Wrecking Coast Distillery was started by a group of friends who simply wanted to make gins they liked the taste of. Based in Tintagel, Cornwall, it follows that this cream tea staple was on their radar. To make it, real Cornish clotted cream is first baked to give it a golden crust, then cold distilled to retain its flavour. If you’re expecting something cloying and overly rich, you’ll be happily surprised. The flavour is here, but it’s more about mouthfeel. On the first sip, you’ll get a delicate buttery richness, followed by a long, drawn out creamy aftertaste with a slight caramel note. But it’s that full, slick, velvety feeling in the mouth – so true to the experience of eating clotted cream – that really makes this. Sip neat, on ice, or treat yourself to a liquid cream tea by mixing with tonic, strawberries, and a squeeze of lime.
2. Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin, 40%: £33.32 for 700ml, TheDrinkShop
It’s still the season to be jolly, so this is a timely flavour to cosy up with. And speaking of cosy, there’s not many commercial distilleries located in residential houses, but that’s the story behind Highgate-based, family-run, Sacred. Distiller Ian Hart distils real Christmas pudding made to a Victorian family recipe, to create this gin. That’s why the first thing you’ll notice is a rich brandy butter nose, followed by a hint of dark fruits. You do get a true-to-life pudding flavour, accompanied again by that lovely, slightly oily mouthfeel you get when you eat a pudding. Being top quality, this is good enough to sip neat. Or rustle-up a Christmas G&T by adding tonic water, and a cinnamon stick and orange wedge garnish.
3. Masons Gin Yorkshire Tea Edition, 42%: £45 for 700ml, Harvey Nichols
Tea has been a bit of thing in drinks of late, with varieties such as oolong and matcha being added to anything from wine to whisk(e)y. So, hats off to Masons for keeping it real, keeping it Yorkshire, with its Yorkshire Tea flavour. But then that’s what you’d expect from a company that proudly proclaims on its bottles that the copper still is named, “Steve”. There’s a pretty full-on tea aroma here, followed by a lovely, just-brewed tea flavour. It’s still quite sweet rather than dry, which is what makes it so lovely simply mixed with a tonic. And if you’re feeling festive but aren’t a fan of syrupy flavours, Masons also does a fantastic sloe-distilled rather than steeped gin too.
4. Liverpool Gin Valencian Orange, 42%: £52.87 for 700ml, Amazon
“At last! Something fruity,” you say. Valencian Orange was created by head distiller John O’Dowd to celebrate his son’s wedding day, but was so popular it’s now been released in small, individually numbered batches. You get bright fresh orange aromas when pouring and a neat, natural, and clean orange taste, which builds in intensity with each sip. Invest in a tonic that’s not too “shouty”, to properly let the flavours shine through. Or add a splash, and a squeeze of orange to sparkling wine.
5. Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin, 37.8%: £42.75 for 700ml, The Whisky Exchange
This small Australian distillery is making a name for itself Down Under by consistently selling-out of the new flavours it launches. Happily, you can still get your hands on this unique gin, crafted in the Yarra Valley. To make it, freshly picked Shiraz grapes were steeped with Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin for eight weeks, kept cold and stirred daily, before the fruit was pressed and combined with more Dry Gin. In Australia, the entire production sold out in two months. Exceptionally smooth to just sip, you get the fruity shiraz notes before a long, clean, pine freshness, and then a rounded warm finish. Cooling and refreshing, it’s more of an experience than a flavour.
6. Whitley Neill Quince, 43%: £26 for 700ml, Ocado
Grab the cheese and a shot glass. While some gins are subtle, others have flavours that shout “notice me, I’m here”. Made using real quince fruit juice, this gin is sweet and strong, with a thick, oily texture. But the bright, ripe apple notes work well with the flavour of the gin, and we think may even appeal to non-gin drinkers. Though you can mix with soda, the brand suggests a ‘Persian Cooler’ with orange juice and red wine. And though certainly not as refined as many on our list, it feels like incredibly good value.
7. Gabriel Boudier Saffron Gin, 40%: £29.75 for 700ml, TheDrinkShop
Made to a French colonial recipe that was rediscovered by Dijon-based micro distiller, Gabriel Boudier, this vivid orange gin looks a little scary (read: intense) in the bottle. But diluted with tonic, the colour and the taste mellow. In addition to saffron, the gin uses eight botanicals, including coriander, lemon, and orange peel, for slightly spiced taste. And just like saffron itself, the flavour of this gin is subtle; think floral and honey notes and you’re pretty much there.
8. No 209 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Reserve Gin, 46%: £61.96 for 750ml, Amazon
Hide your wallet. Stronger and pricier than the rest, this gin from the multi-award winning San Franciscan distillery has been produced a little differently from the others on our list. Rather than having additional flavours distilled into it, this one has been rested in wine barrels from the Rudd Oakville winery in California for 173 days. For your money, you get some deep woody notes as well as a little caramel, a beautiful wine aroma and a clove-like spice. However, these flavours balanced with the gin means that the overall the experience is lighter and brighter than expected. Try using it in cocktails in place of a bourbon. A special treat for sure and maybe one for the connoisseurs only.
9. J.J. Whitley Elderflower Gin, 38.6%: £20.45 for 700ml, The Whisky Exchange
If you’re used to adding a splash of elderflower cordial to your gin and tonic, you can cut out the middle man with this new gin inspired by the British countryside. Why bother? Well, as well as a delicate floral sweetness, this gin also has added cinnamon. Don’t worry, it’s subtle. Big, bright, and summery, this is probably the most accessible gin on our list. It’s worth noting there’s a slightly syrupy texture, and the bitter finish you expect with a gin isn’t really there, but if you usually add cordial to your gin, that’s probably how you like it anyway.
10. Cotswolds Hedgerow Gin, 40%: £29.95 for 500ml, The Cotswolds Distillery
If you’re after a fruity winter flavour, but find sloe gins a little too sweet, then this may be the gin for you. Craft distiller Cotswolds, has won multiple awards for its London Dry Gin, including being named the “World’s Best”. Using that gin as a base, fruit local to the distillery including sloes, damson, mulberries, and blackberries are hand-picked and then macerated for almost a year. The fruit flavour is there, but this is dry rather than sugary. Serve with a tonic or soda, or even try it hot.
11. Filliers Dry Gin 28 Pine Blossom, 42.6%: £37.95 for 500ml, Amazon
Made in small batches in Belgium, to a recipe from 1928, and including 28 botanicals, you can see how this gin earned its name. Why the pine blossom? A distillate of Pinus Sylvestris flowers from the north of the country has been added to give an earthy, but refreshing lightness. Perhaps the most subtle of the flavours in our list, this is one for those who like their gin straight, but are looking to try something a little different.
12. Sikkim Fraise, 40%: £35.45 for 700ml, Amazon
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Despite the modern packaging, there’s a fair bit of heritage to this gin which is produced on copper stills from 1831. Made in Spain, Sikkim is a bit of an unusual proposition. Using a base of red tea from Tibet, wild strawberries, cranberries, bitter orange and coriander are added, meaning that as well as sweetness, there’s also a slight spiciness too. The strawberry taste is definitely there, but it’s subtle and balanced, meaning the end result is flavoursome, but refreshing. Simply add tonic and enjoy its delicate pink colour.
The Verdict: Flavoured gins
Pricey but not totally out of reach, the Wrecking Coast’s Clotted Cream, is really something special. Sip it and savour that velvety texture as a treat. But if you’re looking for something you can enjoy a little more liberally, J.J. Whitley Elderflower Gin is a delicious and more affordable option.
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