Britain drank over £2.6 billion worth of gin in 2019 and while official figures don’t tell us how much of that was your dad it was probably a fair whack. It wouldn’t be Father’s Day without a bottle of gin for the old man so here’s six of the best to choose from.
Nikka Coffey Gin, 47% (£47.95; The Whisky Exchange)
The Coffey stills at Miyagikyo distillery – so named for Irish inventor Aeneas Coffey – are mainly used to produce grain distillate for Nikka’s much-loved blended whiskies. Here, they supply the creamy spirit that underpins the company’s totally unique gin. Botanicals include amanatsu, yuzu, kabosu, and shequasar (which as we’re all aware are citrus varieties native to Japan) along with apple, coriander, and sansho pepper. A complex, multi-stage distillation process makes for a super-perfumed gin packed with layers and complexities.
This isn’t London dry, so don’t expect big juniper, but it is absolutely delicious in its own way. To get the best out of Nikka Coffey gin pair with a very light tonic water or serve highball style; 50ml gin to 100ml soda water and garnish with a lemon twist.
Procera Gin, 44% (£64.95; Master of Malt)
Born out of the thriving Nairobi craft scene, this is the only gin in the world flavoured with juniperus procera, the African juniper berry. Other botanicals include Somali honey, cardamom from Zanzibar, and Swahili lime.
It’s an earthy and mysterious spirit, with layers of spice and a distinctive nuttiness – great for gin drinkers who think they’ve seen it all. Allesandro Palazzi, head bartender at Duke’s and undisputed master of the Martini, is a fan – which in the world of gin is about the highest praise there is.
The glass bottle, wooden stopper, and decorative leatherwork are all handmade. Nice touches that lend a serious sense of quality without being too flashy, exactly the sort of thing dads like.
East London Liquor Co. Premium Batch 2., 47% (£31; ELLC)
This Bethnal Green distillery started out making gin in a disused glue factory in 2014 and has been on the vanguard of the gin boom ever since. In recent years ELLC has branched out into rum, whisky, and liqueur – but the Premium Batch 2 remains one of the highlights of the range and a bit of an industry favourite. Where a lot of modern gins tend toward fruity flavours this is properly dry and herbal, with lots of fennel, sage, and thyme.
It’s a brilliant all-rounder but that more grown-up profile will provide a serious upgrade to your Negroni. Conveniently enough, ELLC has partnered with Vault Vermouth to offer pre-batched Negroni Bianco in handy 750ml bottles. It’s not that they’re hard to make, but when It comes to your third-or-so you’ll be glad someone else did the work for you.
O’ndina Gin (£34; Amazon)
Italians may be known for their wine but they’ve also made waves with their gin. O’ndina is a premium Italian gin from the Campari Group. It’s a savoury number which is housed in an eye-catching bottle that would look great on any bar cart or drinks cabinet. Its main nose is the sweet Grande Verde de Genova Basil from Liguria accompanied by notes of juniper, marjoram, fennel, sage, citrus, orris, and liquorice.
Ferdinand’s Saar, 44% (£39.50; The Distillery – London)
In Germany’s Mosel region, distiller Andreas Vallender collaborates with local wine makers to produce a gin with real terroir. The grain used to make the spirit comes from the Mosel, as do the thirty different botanicals used to flavour it. There’s even a little semi-sweet Riesling added after distillation to impart some of the slate-y minerality that defines the region’s wines.
The result is highly aromatic and brilliantly off-dry with, quince, bergamot, and grapefruit. It’s rare to see something truly different in gin but Ferdinand’s offers a new take on the age-old category. Perfect if your Dad’s a wine nerd (just say that thing about terroir, he’ll love that) and right at home in a Tom Collins.
No.3 London Dry, 46% (£36; Berry Bros. & Rudd)
Berry Bros. & Rudd’s signature gin received a facelift last year and now comes packaged in a rather natty, triangular bottle. The liquid inside is the same classic formula made in Holland by DeKuyper, a house that’s among the oldest of the old-school having been in the game since the 18th century. Absolutely classic, straight-down-the-line, no-hint-of-irony, God-save-the-Queen, dry gin. Sprucy freshness, earthy spice, grapefruit-y zing, and punchy juniper.
It’s for gin and tonics with two wedges of lime and very cold dry Martinis served in quantity at 5pm. No.3 has also won World’s Best Gin at the International Spirits Challenge four times over because it’s just seriously very good.
Sweetdram Escubac (£27.25, Master of Malt)
Okay, so this isn’t technically a gin but it’s a botanical spirit that goes well with tonic – so it’s sneaking onto the list. If your dad’s gin habit is so advanced that you’re having trouble finding a brand he hasn’t tried then this is a great way to go. Made in Edinburgh, Escubac is inspired by the flavoured spirits common before gin reigned supreme; homemade brews known as ‘scubac’ in France and ‘usquebaugh’ in Scotland.
The botanicals in this modern interpretation include saffron, nutmeg, raisins, and cinnamon but not the juniper that would push this into gin territory. Stir equal parts of Escubac and King’s Ginger Liqueur over ice for a twist on the traditional Whisky Mac.