Wine & Food

    Roku gin from Japan

    The best craft gins to buy

    28 November 2018

    Is there such a thing as too much gin? Apparently not: craft distilleries keep on popping up in the most unlikely corners – from Turin to rural mid-Wales. It’s now Britain’s favourite spirit (YouGov took the trouble to find out), having trailed behind whisky and vodka for years. Experiment with one of these to find your new favourite…

    Orbium (Scotland)

    When Hendricks brings out a new recipe, it’s bound to be a red letter day in the gin calendar. Taking the gin and tonic as inspiration, they have created a Hendricks that incorporates quinine, tonic’s most famous ingredient, into the mix. The quinine sits alongside wormwood, the main flavour of vermouth, for an altogether drier take on the original cucumber and rose-scented Hendricks. If you find Hendricks a little too sweet and gentle, Orbium could be the robust take that you’re looking for. As they have only distilled 4,000 bottles, it would make a handy limited edition present. The Whisky Exchange, £36.75

    Hibernation (Wales)

    Of the 300 odd distilleries dotted around Britain, the quaint Dyfi Distillery must be one of the most picturesque. Two brothers recently set up shop in Corris, an old slate mining village in the Snowdonia national park, to make a one-of-a-kind gin using ingredients foraged in the Dyfi Valley’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s all very bucolic-sounding, but the most important thing is that it tastes wonderful. too. It’s the world’s first gin to be aged in a white port barrel, and the ageing, combined with the recipe’s crab apple and blackberry notes, makes Hibernation luscious and fruity. As there is such a limited run, all bottles are hand-signed and numbered. Tanners Wines, £43

    Roku (Japan)

    Offbeat in all sorts of ways, newcomer Roku is made by Suntory, the pioneering Japanese whisky distillers. This enticing gin from Osaka is flavoured with the Japanese botanicals of yuzu peel, sencha tea, gyokuro tea and sansho pepper, combined with the more usual gin botanicals to create a flavour that’s novel, but still firmly tastes like gin. Suntory make a complementary premium tonic, Merchant’s Heart, as well so you can have an entirely Japanese take on the G&T. Garnish with a few strips of peeled ginger for extra zing. Waitrose, £25

    Christmas Pudding gin (London)

    There is seemingly no end to the creativity of distillers and the plump, distinctive flavour of Christmas Pudding in a gin is an inspired seasonal idea. Suet, currants, raisins and almonds are cooked up into 8kg puddings which are steeped for two months in ‘plain’ gin. This mixture is then redistilled with all the extra flavour to create an imaginative spirit. Sacred started off life in the distiller’s home in north London. It has proved so successful that its founders Ian Hart and Hilary Whitney have opened their own little bar, Sacred at the Star, near Highgate Cemetery, where you can see everything being made. They suggest serving this gin instead of Christmas pudding as a shot, ice cold from the freezer. Master of Malt, £34.04

    Malfy Con Arancia (Italy)

    Summer is never too far away with a bottle of cheerful, ruby red Malfy con Arancia. Made in a family-run distillery just outside Turin using Sicilian blood orange peel as the main favour, Malfy infuses coriander and lemon peel in Italian grain spirit for 36 hours to create a zesty but sweet gin. It tastes particularly exotic served with Fentiman’s pink grapefruit tonic. As boutique gins go, it is well-priced as well. Amazon, £26.35

    Tarquin’s (Cornwall)

    Tarquin Leadbetter is an energetic millennial who cooks up his eponymous fresh London Dry style gin in batches of 300 from his clifftop Cornish distillery. He industriously fills, corks, seals and labels each bottle by hand on-site near Padstow. The gin offers a satisfyingly traditional flavour, with a hint of spice in the finish. As is very fashionable in craft gin, Tarquin finds many of his ingredients nearby, among wild hedgerows and gorse and Devon violets. Gin runs in the Leadbetter family veins – his sister Athene runs specialist Soho bar the London Gin Club, which is also well-worth investigating. The Whisky Exchange, £31.75

    Hepple (Northumberland)

    Ex-Sipsmith distiller Chris Garden, chef Valentine Warner and mixologist Nick Strangeway give Hepple gin in Northumberland great pedigree. They are secretive about the exact recipe, but Hepple makes effective use of bog myrtle, Douglas fir, lovage, blackcurrant leaf and lemons. Its complexity and mellow, sweet scent makes it ideal for a gin and tonic or a martini as it has enough interest to hold its own – you wouldn’t really want to hide any of its complexity in a cocktail. Master of Malt, £35.95