Your gins

I like gin a lot. But the funny thing about gin is that I’m also extremely picky. There are a lot of big names that just don’t do it for me. Unlike Bourbon, where I find just about everything drinkable.

Here are my gins and why I like them. I’ll also tell you why I don’t like some of the majors. I’ll also differentiate between gins I don’t like simply because it doesn’t match my sense of taste and those I don’t care for because I think they’re inferior.


1. Beefeater. This is a gin with few botanicals (juniper, coriander, bitter orange, and angelica root and seed, according to Classic Gin) But it the truest, best, lovliest gin I’ve ever tasted. The juniper is deep and has a camphory edge to it. Coriander is high in the mix, and the orange gives it a lovely citrus quality. It comes in a high 47% ABV version and makes, I think, the best martini.

2. Citadelle. An unusual gin from France–truly unique. It has 19 botanicals in it with a flavor that is overall very nutmeggy and spicy. It’s strength is good at 44% ABV. Makes a great martini, too. Nearly opposite in style to Beefeater, but that’s why I like to alternate between them. Oddly, it bucks the usual trend and is much cheaper in the US than in Japan.

3. Seagram’s. Seagram’s has an interesting approach to gin: it ages it in oak, which gives it a yellow tint. It’s America’s gift to the world of dry gin, and it’s a good one. Very citrusy, clean, and meretriciously drinkable. A bottle soon disappears (no, of course I’m not the only one drinking it).

4. Plymouth. This gin is said to be a separate style style of its own, distinct from London dry. Their website says that not using bitter ingredients is what separates it. To me, the angelica in this gin is quite prominent, giving it a different flavor. A good martini gin and a truly great tonic gin.

I’ve tried a bunch of gins and basically settled on these four. They are four very different styles, and to me each is the best in its class. In the honorable mention category would be Greenall’s Quintessential (smooth, but not as good as Beefeater while more expensive), Victorian Vat (aged and heavy with camphory juniper, but more expensive and a little too idiosyncratic), Pimlico (good, but similar to Beefeater), and Hendrick’s (made with quaint botanicals like cucumber and rose petals, but hard to find, expensive, and not quite worth it).

Can do without

The difference between these gins and the honorable mentions above is that each of these has something about it that I don’t quite like, whereas the honorable mentions are good but just not quite good enough to keep buying.

Gordon’s. I just got a bottle of this in the special export strength of 47.3% ABV, which I noticed as the strength on a bottle in a 1930s ad reprinted in the book referenced above. At any rate, Gordon’s has a pretty damn brutal flavor. It just seems bitter, and, although I like bitter flavors, it just doesn’t come together for me. Perhaps a decent gin for tonic or pinks, but a loser for martinis. This is the last time I’ll buy it. That said, Gordon’s Sloe Gin is the best of its type.

Tanqueray. Of course, Tanqueray and Gordon’s are made by the same company. Tanqueray is OK. Not a bad gin, and if that’s what they had at a party I wouldn’t mind much. But the finish has always seemed a little bitter and off to me, so I don’t really like it.

Bombay and Bombay Sapphire. Neither does it for me. Not rotten, but not good. I have tested (in my own experiments) Bombay Sapphire blind with a bunch of other gins, expensive and cheap, it it usually came in last or close to it. Basically, Bombay Sapphire really doesn’t have enough juniper in it. The same could be said of Citadelle amoung my faves, but I just happen to like one and not the other. BTW, both Bombay and Bombay Sapphire are manufactured on a contract basis by Greenalls (ibid). Bombay Sapphire in particular is a fake-o brand that more than a little gets on my nerves.


These gins belong in the “true suckage” category.

Leyden’s. I don’t see how this rotgut finds shelf space anywhere in America. It’s supposed to be pot-still-produced and all fancy like that, but its taste is all bitter and bleh.

Tanqueray 10. This gin costs a lot. It’s supposed to be good, something special. I got it once in 2001 and thought, Wow, it tastes like essential oils that somehow remain in solution in the water and alcohol. Really heavy, like you’re drinking Pine-Sol. Then again in 2003 I thought, I had to be wrong about that gin; let’s try it again. Like Pine-Sol.

I’m sure there will be much disagreement on the above, but I am eager to hear your opinions and gin stories. Thanks!

Five of clubs
Five of spades
Five of hearts
Five of diamonds

Ten of spades
Jack of spades
Queen of spades

He has somewhat different rankings

The Gin Guy!

Yeah. I can understand people liking Bombay Sapphire. I forgot to mention that the gins in my “Can do without” section aren’t bad; they just don’t match my tastebuds.

Also, the gin guy calls Beafeater “the Budweiser of gins.” Saying things like that, plus his generally doodish style, erode his credibility as the gin guy.

As to the analogy. Budweiser is domestic; Beefeater is imported. Bud is cheap but not ultra-cheap; Beefeater is midpriced. Bud has a rep as a drinkable beer but not a brew that would thrill connoiseurs even before the micros came along (Michelob was top shelf from A-B); Beefeater was tip-top shelf until the ultra-premiums like Bombay S came along, and now that the ultra-ultras like Tanqueray 10 have come along, it is pretty much in the same category.

The real Bud of gins would be Seagram’s Dray. It fits the analogy perfectly: domestic, lower but not lowest shelf, and cheap. But that’s just the positioning To me, Bud = water, but Seagram’s is still a pretty darn fin gin, despite its price and positioning.

What are your favorite gins?

(Surely someone here likes gin?)

My day-to-day gin is Gordon’s.

I usually have it as a large Martini on the rocks, with an anchovy-stuffed olive (16-oz. French cafe glass FILLED with ice). Having it over ice means it lasts a long time, usually through dinner preparation. Sometimes, though, I have to splash in a bit more gin.

When I go out for dinner, I usually order a Tanqueray Martini, up, very dry, one olive, as cold as the barkeep is able to make it. Once in a while I’ll call for Beefeater or Bombay instead.

Sorry, but I don’t drink enough different kinds of gin back to back to be able to write a cogent comparison. I’m just a creature of habit.

I’ve been finding that Gordon’s is actually a pretty good gin for pinks, which is gin with a dash of bitters. Also a Gordon’s gin lime is also pretty good. I haven’t found it to go with with vermouth, however.

I like Bombay Sapphire. Buy it by the half-gallon. Yum…

I drink G & T’s, almost never martinis, so brand doesn’t make a huge difference to me. That said, I drink Gordon’s most often, Beefeater next most, and Tangueray when I want to feel like Rockefeller. Bombay Sapphire I don’t particularly care for, certainly not at the elevated price. The rest I never touch, unless they happen to to be the bar gin at whatever dive I wash up in.

Gin stories? My girlfriend, here sister and I had just arrived at a hotel on Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe. The waiter, obviously new, came over and asked what we wanted. Girlfriend’s sister asked for a gin and tonic. Waiter came back a few minutes later with a glass of gin and a glass of tonic.


For gin & tonics. Big ones.


I like Sapphire well enough for a g&t, where i welcome a bit of floral to complement the sweetness of the tonic… but for something less fluffy like a rickey or a gin n bitters i prefer Bafferts or Boodles, and i like Tanq 10 in a dirty martini.

I find myself pretty much in agreement (as to preferred drink and frequency of gins consumed) with El_Kabong. Given the choice I’ll take Tanq over Gordon’s, but there’s a budget to take into consideration when stocking up. Now, for martinis, when I do have any, it’s a tossup between Beefeater and Tanqueray.

An important thing when out dining/drinling is to try and do some recon of the bar to evaluate what do they put into drinks when you do not specify. Sometimes it’s halfway appropriate. Some other times… yeeech

Then, of course, there’s Calvert Gin. As far as I can tell, this… substance …is produced by whoever has the license locally, with whatever it is they use to make ethanol. Around here, it’s made by one of our rum producers, and made from sugarcane – that’s right, it’s Victory Gin!

True. I’m lucky in that regard as Gordon’s is often the bar gin and it really is the one I want. Guess I’m a cheap date. :o