Life’s too short to drink boring gin. And that’s where the best flavoured gins come in.
Just like regular gin, flavoured gin is distilled with loads of botanicals to give it amazing aroma and taste. And just like regular gin, it always has juniper in it. That’s because without juniper, it can’t be called gin.
However, where flavoured gin differs is in its other botanicals, and in how these botanicals are balanced with juniper.
Classic old-school gins tend to use the same few traditional dried ingredients, like coriander, peppercorn, cardamom, cassia, citrus, liquorice, orris root and angelica root. All these are back-up acts to the juniper, which is always the star.
Flavoured gins, meanwhile, use lots of other quirky botanicals. And these — not the juniper — tend to be the main focus. Some are flavoured with fresh berries, others with ripe pears or tropical pineapple. Some even taste of coffee or tea. Cuppa, anyone?
If you aren’t sure you’re a gin fan, flavoured gins are a great place to start. Because they come in so many styles, you’re almost guaranteed to find one that you like to drink, even if you’re not that into the taste of juniper.
But flavoured gins are also a perfect pick for gin lovers who want to jazz up their favourite serve. Try splashing ‘em into G&Ts for a fruity twist, or stirring them into cocktails. Plenty of flavoured gins are delicious sipped straight over ice, too.
The only problem with flavoured gin? There’s hundreds to choose from out there. Even the big brands have gotten in on the game. So we got drink journalist Alicia Miller to save you the shopping around and pick out her current favourites below. Cocktail hour, here you come…
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Four Pillars Olive Leaf Gin
- Four Pillars Olive Leaf Gin, £36.95 (70cl) from Masters of Malt – buy here
Down Under distillery Four Pillars makes some cracking flavoured gins, including this one with olive oil and olive leaf tea.
I know it sounds weird. But really, the Olive Leaf Gin is delicious. It’s slightly savoury, perfect for a martini. In fact, stick the bottle in a freezer, and you basically have a ready-to-pour version of Bond’s favourite tipple – all that’s missing is a little vermouth and a twist of lemon.
More of a tonic type? This gin is great in a pre-dinner G&T or two – that savoury character really wakes up the palate. Serve it Spanish-style, in a giant fish bowl glass with loads of ice and good-quality Indian tonic water.
There’s no denying that this gin is on the splash-out side of the spectrum, but that’s because Four Pillars is careful about what they put inside. The olive oil and olive leaf come from the Australian state of Victoria, and are combined with rosemary, bay, local macadamia nuts and lemon myrtle (a leafy herb with a citrus flavour).
If you like this, Four Pillars also makes a delicious ruby red gin infused with Shiraz wine. Two drinks in one? Count me in.
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Ophir Black Lemon London Dry Gin
- Ophir Black Lemon London Dry Gin, £23 (70cl) from Amazon – buy here
Calling all citrus fans: this gin made with Persian black lemons (that is, sun-dried limes) and citrussy timut peppercorns is one for you.
It’s zingy, fresh and exotic all at once. The idea is that this gin has been inspired by the Ancient Spice Route, linking east and west. While that might mostly be marketing speak, I can confirm that it *does* taste like bottled sunshine.
Fans of classic-style gins will probably enjoy this pour too. It’s made in the London Dry style, so the botanicals have all been added before distillation and the palate is bone dry.
Serve this as you would any London Dry gin: with classic Indian tonic water. It really lengthens out all those gorgeous sun-dried lime and warm pepper notes, so you can enjoy their brightness with every sip.
Agnes Arber Pineapple Gin
- Agnes Arber Pineapple Gin, £32.45 (70cl) from Amazon – buy here
A tropical holiday in a glass. Close your eyes and sniff this gin, and you’ll instantly be transported to a white-sand beach. It smells overwhelmingly of succulent, juicy pineapple and ripe mango.
It tastes like them too, but that’s not to say it’s sweet. It might smell like a fruit salad, but this is a rather dry gin when you taste it. And that’s what keeps it interesting: unlike some others, it doesn’t become sickly after half a glass.
What’s more, because there are some classic gin botanicals in there – including angelica, cassia, coriander, liquorice and, of course, juniper – it feels both gin-like and grown-up. There’s no mistaking this for a flavoured vodka, as can happen with some flavoured gins.
If you’re having a pool party, Agnes Arber Pineapple is a natural pick. Mix it with tropical juices like pineapple, grapefruit or orange for a dangerously delicious punch that’ll virtually whisk your guests off to a deserted isle.
On the other hand, the gin’s aromas are so bold you could happily just blend this with some soda water to make a fruity, low-calorie mixed drink. The choice is yours.
Villa Ascenti Rosa Gin
- Villa Ascenti Rosa Gin, £29.73 (70cl) from Amazon – buy here
More and more gin brands are making use of local ingredients to flavour their spirits. And not only in the UK, as Villa Ascenti, produced in Italy, goes to show.
This ‘Rosa’ edition of the premium gin is distilled not only with Tuscan-grown juniper berries, but also local hazelnuts, Brachetto grapes, peaches and apricots.
That yummy, toasty hazelnut and ripe peach really shows off in the glass – this gin smells almost like an Italian baked dessert with warm, nutty notes meeting a fresh, juicy fruitiness. Not synthetic or overwhelming, just nice and natural.
We’ve already got this pegged as a summer go-to, where we’ll be serving it with a light tonic and a wedge of fresh peach. If you want to go full Italian, try pairing it with a zippy Sicilian lemon tonic. Saluti!
Tanqueray Rangpur Gin
- Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, £25 (70cl) from Amazon – buy here
Even if you’re a total gin newbie, you’ve probably heard of Tanqueray. One of the biggest gin brands in the world, it’s been turning out classic-style London Dry Gin to the same recipe since 1830.
But just because it has serious history, that doesn’t mean it’s a brand that can’t innovate. Enter Tanqueray Rangpur.
Rangpur lime, an Indian fruit that is both zesty and juicy (think of it as a cross between a lemon and a mandarin) is the star. Tanqueray adds this, along with ginger and bay, to its classic gin base for a pour with zingy flair.
This was an early trendsetter as far as flavoured gins go, released all the way back in 2006. But it’s just as delicious now, thanks to its mix of juicy citrus, warm ginger, earthy bay, and the familiar backbone from those timeless Tanqueray botanicals of juniper, coriander, angelica and liquorice.
Giving it’s inspired by South Asian flavours, there’s just one perfect way to serve this: with Indian tonic and plenty of refreshing ice.
Masons of Yorkshire Pear & Pink Peppercorn
- Masons of Yorkshire Pear & Pink Peppercorn, £29.89 (70cl) from Master of Malt – buy here
You might wonder why you’d want pepper in your gin, but in fact many classic gins use peppercorn as an ingredient. This one just happens to put it front and centre.
The trick is that Masons of Yorkshire uses pink peppercorn, which is rather mild and fruity, and combines it with juicy conference pears. So while you get that delightful kick from the spice, there’s also a sweetness to balance it.
Give this one a go with a Mediterranean tonic water. The fruit and spice in the gin goes a treat with the herby, citrussy character of this style of tonic.
Masons is great at making balanced dry gins in unique flavours, so if you like this bottle you’ll probably like the rest of its range, too. There’s even one infused with tea. You don’t get more Yorkshire than that.
Jaffa Cake Gin
- Jaffa Cake Gin, £27.95 (70cl) from Master of Malt – buy here
If you adore Jaffa Cakes (and frankly, who doesn’t?) you’ll go wild for this dreamy gin that pays homage to the famous biscuit-sized cake.
Infused with real-life Jaffa Cakes, as well as fresh orange and cocoa powder, it really does taste like the heavenly teatime staple in liquid form, but with an added dose of juniper. You can even taste the almond and vanilla from the cake that’s been infused.
Because the flavours are so distinct, I like this one mixed with simple soda water. But if you fancy yourself a bit of a cocktail maestro, it’s also great in a Negroni. The orange flavour goes splendidly with the bitter Campari used in this classic Italian pour, while the chocolate adds richness.
The key thing to remember is that, however it tastes, this is still a proper gin at 42% alcohol by volume, so it’s seriously boozy. It’s tempting to polish off the bottle, but do drink responsibly. By which I mean, with plenty of Jaffa Cakes on the side.
One Gin Port Barrel Rested Gin
- One Gin Port Barrel Rested Gin, £39.95 (50cl) from the Whisky Exchange – buy here
No question, this gin is an investment. Its price point makes it one for special occasion cheers’ing rather than for downing while watching the footie. But would you expect anything less from a gin that’s been aged in precious Port wine barrels?
The barrels, which once held fortified red Port wine from Portugal, were refilled with One Gin’s trademark gin, boasting aromas of sage as well as juniper, citrus peel and nutmeg.
Besides an interesting ruby hue, the time spent in Port barrels adds a gentle red fruit sweetness to the gin, which blends beautifully with the herby sage notes from distillation. Complex and smooth, it’s a knock-out when sipped neat straight from the freezer or poured over ice.
The great taste is only one reason to buy though. One Gin is a brand on a mission to do good things in the world. It donates at least 10% of its profits to fund clean water projects in the world’s poorest communities. If that’s not a reason to pour another glass, I don’t know what is.
Silent Pool Rose Expression Gin
- Silent Pool Rose Expression Gin, £37.95 (70cl) from Amazon – buy here
This gin smells as pretty as an English summer garden in the height of bloom. That’s because it’s been infused with both fragrant rose and a touch of honey from British bees.
Rose can be a tricky flavouring to use in food and drink as done wrong it can easily taste overwhelming. But Silent Pool makes it seem easy here, using balancing notes of woody vetiver, earthy cardamom and fresh citrus to create a seriously elegant gin.
If you want to ramp up the floral character further – say, for an afternoon of G&Ts in the garden – try mixing it with elderflower tonic. Or else try it with a light, plain tonic that will bring out more of that underlying savoury character.
Once you’ve drained your bottle, don’t chuck it away. Pay a visit to Silent Pool’s eco-conscious distillery in the Surrey Hills and you can refill it for another round.
Bombay Sapphire Sunset
- Bombay Sapphire Sunset, £23 (70cl) from Tesco – buy here
If you’re a seasoned gin drinker, you’ll almost certainly have tried Bombay Sapphire. This world-famous gin distilled in Hampshire is popular with many drinkers because it’s delicately flavoured; perfect if you’re on the fence about juniper.
Sunset is the brand’s first foray into spiced gin, and combines the classic pared back Bombay Sapphire style with some exciting new botanicals: turmeric, Spanish mandarin and white cardamom.
Don’t expect a massive flavour explosion. Rather there’s a building warmth from the spice, and a background of citrus from the mandarin. You can see where the name ‘sunset’ comes from – this gin captures more of a warm, chilled-out feeling than a specific flavour.
You can happily drink this with tonic, but combine Sunset with ginger ale for the ultimate spiced serve. Or, you might say, the ultimate sundowner.
Sipsmith Sipspresso Coffee Gin
- Sipsmith Sipspresso Coffee Gin, £28.50 (70cl) from John Lewis – buy here
A coffee gin? Yep, you read that right. Sipsmith, the quirky London distillers, are always brewing up something new and interesting, and that includes this ‘sipping gin’ made with coffee.
The idea of a gin made for sipping straight might sound bonkers, but in recent years many gins are being designed for just that. They’re the juniper equivalent to top-quality Scotch whisky. All you have to do is stick the bottle in the fridge or freezer for a few hours, then pour and enjoy.
Saying that, Sipsmith Sipspresso has one other obvious application: it’s great in an espresso martini. Or give it a go in a regular dry martini, with just a twist of orange peel rather than the usual lemon.
Sipsmith has used some gorgeous ingredients to make this gin, which is why it tastes so sophisticated. That includes fresh vanilla, cinnamon and ground Brazilian and Rwandan coffee beans from ethical company Pact Coffee. The coffee comes with plenty of its own complexity, adding decadent chocolate notes to mix.
Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger
- Whiltey Neill Rhubarb and Ginger, £24.49 from Amazon – buy here
Johnny Neill, the founder of Whitley Neill, makes all kinds of flavoured gins. Quince gin. Gooseberry gin. Even parma violet gin. But there’s something especially homely and enticing about this most nostalgic of combos, rhubarb and ginger.
The gin smells and tastes exactly like what you’d imagine. It’s even got a touch of sweetness, which brings to mind those home-baked crumbles and cakes you’d have when going round to nan’s.
The tart fruitiness of the rhubarb is balanced by the heat of real ginger, giving the spirit complexity and body. Just the match for a glass full of ice, a slug of tonic and a garnish of fresh-cut lemon.
What do you mix with flavoured gin?
The real question is, what don’t you? Flavoured gin has endless possibilities.
Classic Indian tonic, flavoured with quinine – the bark of the cinchona tree – is always a safe bet, as it will match the juniper in the gin. But depending on the particular taste profile of your chosen gin, there may be even better pairings.
Try splashing your citrussy flavoured gins into a Mediterranean-style tonic. These are flavoured with herbs and citrus too, so it’s a no-brainer.
Fruity gins, meanwhile, are great served with a lighter tonic. This is because the fruit flavours can make a gin seem sweeter, and a lower-sugar tonic can often balance that.
Really strongly or uniquely flavoured gins, such as ones above with coffee or olive, can be nicest chilled in the freezer and drunk on their own, or mixed into a simple cocktail.
If in doubt, look at the serving suggestions provide by your gin producer – after all, they know their spirit best.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to flavoured gins. Just drink what you like!
How long does flavoured gin last once opened?
Good news – there’s no rush to get to the bottom of that bottle. Like other spirits, flavoured gin doesn’t ever really go off.
Saying that, a bottle that has been open for a long time might not taste as fresh as one that’s newly cracked open. So aim to polish off your gin within a year or so of breaking the seal.
Evaporation, especially in warm summer months, is still possible, so always keep the lid firmly on the bottle. Ideally store it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and kitchen cookers, because temperature fluctuations and excessive light can impact the taste of any bottled spirit, even if unopened.
A few gins, especially those mixed with natural flavourings after distillation can, over long periods of time change colour and flavour in the bottle. This doesn’t mean it’s gone off. Just as wines can develop as they age, so can spirits. In some cases, they can be even more interesting to drink than when first made.
How to make flavoured gin
Can’t find a gin in your favourite flavour? Try making one yourself – it’s easier than you think. You can easily add extra character to normal gin by soaking it for a few days or weeks with your favourite ingredients.
It’s possible to buy DIY gin kits online, but you don’t need one. All that’s required is a sterilised jar, a bottle of quality gin, a strainer, and whatever ‘botanicals’ you want to use, whether fruit, spices or even candy. And, of course, some time.
It is a good idea to follow a recipe as different ingredients will require different quantities and soaking times to make the best flavoured gin possible. But, as a general guide, you want to use around 300g of flavouring per 1 litre of spirit. The more you use and the longer you leave it to infuse, the more strongly flavoured your gin will be.
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