Country Life's Gin Awards last year named the greatest gins available in Britain, and they're every bit as good this summer as they were last. So if you're looking to stock up, here's our pick of the best.

Judges: Mark Hedges, Andrew Love, Craig Harper, Rupert Ponsonby and Harry Eyres

Winner: Fifty Pounds London Dry – £29.95

The judges were unanimous in finding this gin beautifully balanced, full and satisfying. The aromas were fragrant, fresh, youthful and harmonious, with the juniper, citrus and earthy notes in perfect balance. There was richness in the mouth, but also a gentle aftertaste.

The general feeling was that this was an excellent all-round gin, equally suited to the classic gin and tonic, mixed in a variety of cocktails (as long as they didn’t swamp its subtle flavour) or taken on its own or with water. Tasted—blind, of course—last in quite a long sequence, it more than held its own in high-flying company. A worthy winner.

Runners-up

Tarquin’s Handcrafted Cornish – £17.90 (half-bottle)

This gin, generally described as ‘full, big and warm’, also found much favour with the judges. In terms of aromas, full juniper was backed up by citrus notes, with a hint of sage. For one judge, bright citrus was dominant; for another, this evoked the scents of a riverbank.

On the palate, this was an extremely clean, pleasant gin, with enough power to put its distinctive stamp on a gin and tonic or to cut through other flavours in a relatively  complex cocktail. This is another great all-rounder, well suited both to partnerships and for solo drinking because of its considerable fullness and power. Above all, this was a gin we found fulfilling and satisfying in terms of the balance of aromas and flavours.

Here was a truly unusual and distinctive gin. For one judge, the aromas—suggesting a pine forest as well as juniper—positively leapt from the glass, noticeable from several feet away. Other judges detected orange and lemon notes, together with a suggestion of lavender.

A distinctive trait is that this gin acquires a light cloudiness when water or tonic is added, because the essential oils are unfiltered. Power and exuberance —and, for one judge, an ‘upfront femininity’ —were to the fore; for another judge, this was ‘big, bold and brash’ in a generally positive sense. We all agreed that this was a gin brimming over with personality—not for the faint-hearted, but, for one judge at least, ‘powerful with joy’. Certainly an intense gin of excellent quality.

Gold medal winners

ShortCross Small-Batch Gin – £39.95

Nicely balanced on the nose, fresh and clean, but also intriguingly spicy. There’s a lot going on here—rich, warm, masculine and powerful on the palate. Perhaps just a little lacking in subtlety

Blackwood 2012 – £22

Vintage Dry 60% Pale colour. More juniper than citrus; very fresh, pine-forest aromas. Beautifully delicate and soft on the palate. Lovely rounded balance with citric freshness—a really delightful, subtle gin that combines well with tonic

Berkeley Square – £35.95

Strong herbal aroma, mainly juniper, but also a hint of lavender and basil. A very clean gin, smooth and drinkable. Very attractive and subtle, with everything in harmony and perfect for those who prefer less powerful and assertive flavours

Williams GB Gin (Chase Distillery) – £37.95

Attractive zestiness on the nose, juniper backed by citrus and spice. The citrus aromas are quite strong and almost sharp, but lead to a rounded palate and nicely judged dry finish. Satisfying and excellent with tonic

Warner Edwards – £33

A fascinating nose, with mint, orange peel and marzipan as well as juniper. Gently orangey, but muscular. There is power and a beautiful balance —no exaggerated flavours —with hints of orange marmalade; oily, reassuring and in harmony

Edinburgh Cannonball Navy Strength – £37.78

The real taste of gin, with juniper punch and citrus notes plus attractive spice. Very smooth on the palate, with no harsh aftertaste. Good on its own and with water or tonic

Liverpool Gin – £47.03

Lots of orange and other citrus notes and spice on the nose, perhaps too much at first, but settled well with water and even better with tonic, resulting in a gentle, well-balanced flavour. Excellent gin, especially if you like this spicy character

Foxdenton 48 London Dry – £27.99

A wonderful spicy nose. Soft and easy on the palate, with a refreshing finish and a long, lingering aftertaste. Excellent quality—perhaps on the sweeter side.


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