If you’re a gin lover – or looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a gin drinker – it can be difficult to know where to start. The recent boom in gin is great news for distillers, but it means that there are hundreds of brands for shoppers to choose from.
These include classic London Dry styles and characterful craft gins, as well as expressions made with unusual botanicals and flavoured gins. Nor is the gin craze confined to the UK. While there are plenty of great British gins, you’ll also find some distinctive gins from Europe.
There’s also a wide variety of gins made around the world. From the Amazonian rainforests to Africa, Asia and India – you’ll discover bottles that feature an interesting selection of exotic botanicals.
To make life easier, we’ve selected 10 top gins for Christmas below. The list includes limited-edition seasonal specials such as Silent Pool Albury Winter Gin and Martin Miller’s new Winterful.
But there are also gins that have more depth and character in your glass – from fruity sloe gins to barrel-aged expressions. Whichever one you choose, there are plenty of reasons for gin lovers to discover new bottles at Christmas.
Christmas gins to try
Boatyard Sloe Boat Gin
This dangerously drinkable sloe gin is made by Boatyard Distillery in Northern Ireland, steeping its signature gin in wild-harvested sloe berries for six months to create a fruity gin with aromas of plum, cranberry and spice. Bright red berry fruit – strawberries and cranberries – plus plum and mellow spice on the palate. Enjoy it neat or in a Charlie Chaplin: shake 30ml Sloe Boat Gin, 30ml apricot brandy and 25ml fresh lime juice with ice and strain into a Nick & Nora glass. Alcohol 29.8%
Eden Mill Red Wine Cask Gin
Made in St Andrews, Scotland. Senior distiller Andrew Walker uses a base of Eden Mill Original Gin, which is aged in Amarone casks for 500 days. With a warm amber colour, this has a classic juniper nose, edged with brown spices and red berries. Creamy palate with mellow, earthy spices, ripe red berry notes and fresh juniper character. The peppery finish is laced with baking spices. Makes a distinctive G&T. Alc 42.5%
Edinburgh Gin Christmas Gin
Just like the three kings, this Scottish gin comes with frankincense and myrrh – botanicals that lend an exotic spiciness. They’re complemented by notes of sweet orange, ginger and baking spices (especially nutmeg), along with classic juniper. Garnish with a slice of orange for a festive G&T. The Edinburgh range also includes a Mulled Gin Liqueur (Alc 20%) that you can pair with orange juice and sparkling wine for a twist on a Christmas Day Bucks Fizz. Alc 43%
Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin
Australian distiller Four Pillars makes a range of excellent products and this expression is based on its classic Rare Dry Gin, which has been steeped in local Shiraz grapes from Yarra Valley for eight weeks. With sweet red fruit notes, it’s one for fans of sloe gin (and red wine). Try it neat over ice with an orange slice or with bitter lemon in a long serve. Also look out for Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin (Alc 43.8%), with botanicals including ginger and cinnamon: perfect for your festive Negronis. Alc 37.8%
Martin Miller’s Winterful Gin
This limited-edition is a partner to Martin Miller’s Summerful seasonal gin. Both are based on the original Martin Miller’s, which is double-distilled in the UK then shipped to Iceland to be cut with Icelandic spring water. Winterful celebrates this dual national identity with the addition of botanicals used in mulled wine recipes in both England and Iceland, including cinnamon and orange peel. Try pairing 50ml of gin with 150ml ginger beer, garnished with lime and a sprinkle of nutmeg in an ice-filled highball glass, for a spicy alternative to a G&T. Alc 40%
Portobello Road Celebrated Butter Gin
Each batch of Portobello’s classic gin is distilled one extra time with a block of unsalted English butter to create Celebrated Butter Gin. Inspired by gin styles of the past, the name appears in Sketches by Boz where Charles Dickens describes the products on offer in an 1830s London Gin Palace. The velvety palate has a creamy butter note throughout, balanced by fresh pine, citrus, black pepper and a sweet/salty character. Try it in a Portobello Festive Fizz: shake 40ml gin with 50ml orange juice, 10ml clementine juice, 5ml lemon juice, 5ml maraschino, 5ml sugar syrup, 12.5ml egg white and one rosemary sprig in a shaker with ice. Then remove the ice and shake again without ice. Double strain into a flute and top with Prosecco. Alc 42%
Silent Pool Albury Winter Gin
Made by top Surrey distiller Silent Pool, this seasonal gin features botanicals including tonka bean, chestnut flour, toasted ginger root and maple syrup. The nose is very aromatic, with Christmas spices, fruity cherry notes and freshly baked pastries. Layered, creamy and elegant palate, with notes of panettone, ginger and cherries, plus plenty of earthy depth and warming spice, along with a brisk juniper character. Alc 42%
Sipsmith Sloe Gin
Sipsmith kick-started the UK’s craft gin revolution: when the distillery opened back in 2009, Prudence was the first copper pot still to be operated in London for 200 years. The botanical mix is inspired by a recipe found in an 18th century book called The Compleat Body of Distilling by drinks historian and Master Distiller Jared Brown. Sipsmith’s sloe gin is made by macerating sloe berries from Dartmoor, harvested in autumn, giving each bottle a distinct vintage character every year. Pair it with tonic or bitter lemon for a fruity winter tipple. Alc 29%
The Eclectic Gin Society Spice Blend
A great Christmas gift for wine lovers who are also partial to craft gin. This is blended in small batches of 140 bottles exclusively for Vindependents, a buying group for independent UK wine merchants. The quirky label design shows a collection of objects representing each different merchant. The Spice Blend is a classic London Dry style, with mellow baking spice aromas, lots of cinnamon and star anise. The punchy, super-spicy palate is balanced by rounded fruitiness, crisp apple and juniper bite, with a pink peppercorn finish. Makes a superbly spicy G&T. Alc 45%
Wild Fox The Holly & The Ivy
Lizzie and Rob Billington are fourth generation farmers from Lancashire, who launched Wild Fox Distillery in 2019 to produce a range of farm-to-bottle gins. Their copper still is called Ivy, so what better name for their festive special edition than The Holly & The Ivy? Seasonal botanicals include damsons from the farm’s fruit trees and clementine wheels dried in the farmhouse Aga, which provide plenty of mellow fruity notes, alongside warming spices. Makes a festive G&T – and a great gift idea too. Alc 40%