Hello… You’ve caught me looking back at all the gins I’ve really really enjoyed this last year and it reminded me that last year I decided to fire up a nice easy blog that I could whip up in jig time so I decided to crack on and round up my year of top gins… The post did pretty well so I decided that EVEN THOUGH I actually have loads of blog stuff to get on with… I figured I’d round up my top gins from the last 12 months to turn you tasting bumps green with envy over.
Its absolutely essential that you remember that this is all based on two things;
- Gins I’ve actually tasted for the first time and on more than one occasion within the last 12 months
- My personal taste.
I feel that this should go without saying but I don’t want anyone going bush and asking why certain gins aren’t featured. Could be I haven’t tried it, I didn’t like it or I only tried a wee nip at a festival… So let’s not make things awkward… Although, I say all that, but I’m absolutely fine with an open discussion into the gins chosen/omitted.
Some of the gins in here I have reviewed and some I haven’t… Links will be provided to reviews and websites to let you easily go pick yourself up a cheeky little bottle to toast in the New Year… Or even Christmas depending on delivery times etc.
So all that remains is for me to start talking you through my top gins… IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER… K?
So lets kick off with Brentingby. I first tried Brentingby at the Gin to My Tonic Show in Glasgow in March and fell in love with it… Then I actually got chatting to Bruce Midgely and got the back story to the drink, an understanding of what he was looking to do and fell in love with it even more. Everything about the gin shows the care and thought that went into it… And the copper bottle isn’t exactly hiding on the shelf!!!
As a side note Bruce is a magician and I’ve yet to be disappointed by his work… Everything has been sublime.
Next up is Pilgrims… This is the only gin on this list that I don’t own but I do get it at every opportunity… Its wonderful. I have one of their liqueurs and its fab but their actual gin is something quite special… It’s one of those gins that’s so unique in itself that you can tell thats what is in your glass without knowing… Once you’ve tasted it. I urge you to try this and its up at the top of my list to pick up at some point soon!!
You can buy the gin here —> Pilgrims on Amazon
Bringing us hurtling back to the Gin To My Tonic Show allows me to talk to you about Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin. Now… When I first picked this up I did it because I was trying to get into the negroni… I’d also had a grand total of one negroni… and hated it!! So obviously the natural thing to go and do was chuck £40 at someone and buy a negroni spiced gin… riiiiiiiiight? WRONG… It was an odd decision… Luckily for me the gin was dynamite and does indeed make a super duper negroni…
Similarly to Brentingby, Four Pillars is a cracking distiller and any liquid they’ve touched that I’ve tried I have adored. Get to picking some up if you haven’t already!!
An FYI before you read the review… This was written before I liked negronis, however, it does feature a lovely cocktail!
While I’m on the subject of the negroni let me delight you with one of my absolute favourite gins to use in this delightfully diverse little drink… Red Door Gin.
Theres a sweetness to this gin and I think thats what makes it work so well in what is, for the most part, a bitter drink. Additionally the orangey notes in here compliment the Campari.
Don’t misunderstand me, Red Door makes a lovely G&T but it makes a better negroni!!!
You can buy the gin here —> Red Door On Master of Malt
Next up is the Hrafn Valhalla. The Ravens sent this to me straight from the nest and you can look forward to a review of this in the New Year! However, for the time being what I will say is that it belongs in this list. There is a stunning feel to every aspect of this gin. I don’t get to say this often but this gin is stunning just by itself with a few ice cubes for company and a little twirl of peel. However if thats not your bag then it goes beautifully in a G&T… However… Watch the quantity… You honestly won’t want/need a lot of tonic… A little tickle should be plenty.
You can buy the gin here —> Hrafn Valhalla Online Shop
Next… Fidra… I have a funny history with this brand… I tried Fidra at the International Scottish Gin Day 2019 event in Edinburgh. Jo chatted to me through the tasting and was lovely… Even when I said I wasn’t a fan. I then went in for a second taste… And it hit me… This gin is wonderful!!! It’s seriously stunning. I don’t have it alot but, honestly, every time I do I think the same thing… “Why don’t I drink this more?”
Treat yourself here —> Fidra Online Shop
Esker is a brand I’ve really become quite smitten with over the last year… Not any single gin from them either… Just all of them. I picked up their Honey Spiced at the Gin To My Tonic show in Glasgow… They then sent me a bottle of the Silverglas… I then properly tried their core gin and adored it… The cassia bark in it still stands out in my mind… Warm and just stunning.
Good luck choosing just one bottle —> Esker Online Shop
The most recent tasting on here for me is the Pothecary Trinity. I was sent a sample bottle of this guy and its wonderful. Comprising of only three botanicals it shines so brightly. Created to go against the glittery, flavoured rubbish that’s been appearing it goes to show that sometimes less is more… Here you have a powerful gin. One that stands tall and is PACKED with flavour… Perhaps BECAUSE of the lack of the botanicals…
Go buy this gin… Honestly… Just go… Once you’ve finished reading this —> Pothercary Online Shop
Another brand I won’t choose a specific gin from is the Garden Shed Drinks Co. I think their range has recently expanded to three gins… I’ve only tried two… Both are wonderful. Their core gin is absolutely wonderful… My favourite serve for it is actually a bees knees… Which is great because these guys give back to the bees and do a bit of work with the bee charities… As well as planting trees… Good work guys.
Their other gin I adore is the Cote-Rotie Aged Gin which is their core gin aged in an old wine barrique. The gin takes on a touch of flavour from the barrique and some of its colour… Let me tell you something… This makes a fantastic negroni… There, I said it.
Read my review of Garden Shed —> Here
Go treat yourself… And the bees and the trees —> Garden Shed Online Shop
A few weeks ago the Gin Foundry looked for some help with rehoming some gins from their old tasting room… Now… I’m not one to see someone struggle so offered some assistance with the rehoming… Unbeknownst to me Louise had also seen their post and was willing to help on my behalf as part of my Christmas… Unfortunately Emille thought it was just some chancer, emailed Louise saying that a Nicola Glassford (AKA me) had already ordered some and it was one order per person… She sent me a screenshot of the email to let me see… This led, first off, to some crushing disappointment cos that would’ve been a superb Christmas extra! But I also then had to explain why I was ordering gins when I’d promised no more… Anyway… I then fired up a tweet thanking them for snitching on me… It also turned out that Louise had picked up a few things for my Christmas from them so I dunno if they trusted my tweet or found her other orders but they sent out a few bottles for her and a few bottles for me… Amongst the bottles sent was, by absolute chance, a gin I’ve wanted since I tried it in March at the Gin To My Tonic show (I tried ALOT of gins at this show… As you can tell!)…
Renegade Gin. I love everything about this gin. I love the folk that make it. I love the branding. I love the look of their distillery and the shindigs they host there… But mostly… I love the liquid. It has everything… It has the sweetness of citrus, the stunning herbaceous loveliness, the subtle strength of the juniper and the fact they’re grain to bottle.
I was hoping to hoover up a few of these bottles recently as they were going for a steal in one of the supermarkets… Not in Scotland though… My heart broke.
Go delight your tummy —> Doghouse Distillery Online Shop
While I’m kinda on the subject of the Gin Foundry… They got together with a few distilleries this year and smashed out some absolutely awesome liquids… Their Warners collab – Farmed and Foraged – was absolutely stunning but it was their effort with Tarquins that I loved the most… Treth Ha Mog. The smoke and the lemon… Glorious. Unlike absolutely anything that I’d tried before… So beautifully balanced. I swayed about including it here given the fact that you can no longer get it but… I mean… It’s so good I had to… Like many gins on this list, this one made a killer negroni.
You can’t buy the gin any more but go check out the Gin Foundry Website anyway as it has loads of great info —> Gin Foundry Website
I came into contact with a lot of gins in 2019 that, in 2018, were totally unknown to me. Hidden Curiosities was one of those gins. I’d heard amazing things about it and, after it won my monthly poll, I picked up a bottle of their Aranami Strength… Wow. I spoke quite a lot with Jenny (the lady behind the gin) and discovered two things… Firstly… She’s just lovely… Secondly the gin is absolutely unreal. I’ll be honest… Most of the botanicals used are Japanese and I have no clue about them (not even gonna kid on I knew what a Kabosu was)… But, what I will say about this gin, is that its one of the most stunning negronis I’ve had all year… It puts the wind in my sail everytime I pour it then every sip thereafter…. Honestly.
Try something new and a little different —> Hidden Curiosities Online Shop
One of the first gins I reviewed in 2019 was Thunderflower. A slightly spiced flavour that made a smashing G&T which was super smooth. I think it’s worth mentioning that Thunderflower also make a granola… And, for your info, its fantastic!
Now, to mix things up these guys have suggested a Bramble recipe… Which I tried… For you guys… You’re welcome!
- 50ml Thunderflower Gin
- 25ml Lemon Juice
- 15ml Simple Syrup
- 25ml Chambord
Sling everything except the Chambord into a shaker with ice;
Strain into a glass;
Add the Chambord.
I recommend using crushed ice if you can as it really adds to the overall aesthetic.
This is the first time I’ve ever made a Bramble with Chambord instead of the Creme De Mure… I liked it… It’s nice to have something to switch up and add variety.
I honestly can’t wait to see more from these guys in 2020.
Read my review here —> Thunderflower Review
Go get a bottle of your very own… And some granola —> Thunderflower Online Shop
When you think about Brewdog you likely think about two things… Beer and Lonewolf… Well… Add a third thing… Zealots Heart Gin.
It has a full range of flavour… A lovely floral sweetness from lavender, strong citrus backing and a hint of spice… Not to mention the punch from the juniper. This is a seriously hard hitting gin… A standout bottle, a phenomenal gin and one that, for some reason, doesn’t get the publicity it deserves… Lone Wolf is a great gin, don’t get me wrong and it deserves its high praise… But this… THIS needs to be noticed more!
Buy some Zealots Heart here —> Brewdog Distillery Online Shop
Finally let me talk to you about Defiance. I adore it. I hadn’t heard of it until Paul contacted me and we got chatting. I love the story behind it, the effort that goes in and just how stunning the liquid inside the equally beautiful bottle is.
I’ll be honest… I love this in a G&T but it makes an astonishingly good negroni… Also Paul launched his gin school at the distillery earlier this year as well as several gins to expand their range…
Have a gander at my review of Defiance —> Here
Do yourself a favour and go take a look —> Defiance Online Shop
So there you have it. My top gins of the year 2019. Its been a tough one to call this year because there’s been so many. I’ve been very lucky this year to have been able to sample so many amazing gins and meet so many wonderful people – the people that make the gin, the people that write about the gin and the people that just really love drinking the gin…
Have I missed any gins that you think should be included?
Last year this same blog post was nice and simple as I hadn’t really sampled as many as I’d have liked so the truly amazing ones really stood out. This year I had to really try and narrow it down and this was as short as I could get the list!!!
I can’t wait for 2020 and all that it brings! 2019 was a great year for gin and an exciting adventure for me… I hope that 2020 brings more of the same… But even better.
Thanks for reading, thanks for helping make 2019 the amazing gin filled year that it was and I hope you continue to enjoy the blogs going forward.
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Happy New Year… I hope you have a great time, wherever you are, however you spend it.