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Best summer gin: 15 to try

From seasonal fruits and flowers to coastal plants, these gins showcase summery botanicals. Julie Sheppard recommends great bottles that will bring a seasonal splash of sunshine to your drinks cabinet.

One of the most appealing things about the gin category is the sheer variety of botanicals that can be used to create flavour. A botanical is anything that’s derived from plants: herbs, spices, berries, leaves, bark, roots or flowers. These can be grown locally or imported from exotic locations around the world.

It means that as gin drinkers, we can be inundated with choices when it comes to selecting a favourite bottle. But that variety is also a great opportunity to explore different tastes and even get creative with a summer gin cocktail – such as a citrus Gimlet to a fruity Clover Club.

Even a simple serve like a Gin and Tonic can take on a summery twist if you use a gin with seasonal flavours. And don’t forget to add a seasonal garnish to your G&T as well, from fresh strawberries and raspberries to tropical fruit.

The selection of bottles below includes new releases, such as Fortnum & Mason’s Amalthea; as well as old favourites like Porters Tropical Old Tom Gin, which is great in a Tom Collins cocktail.

I’ve also selected a few of my favourite seasonal editions. The distilleries that produce them make use of a whole range of summery botanicals – from strawberries and rose petals to seaside plants such as rock samphire and sea purslane – to conjure up a summer day in a bottle. Enjoy!

Bottle of Jardin Mexicano gin and a glass on a sandy beach

Summer gin: 15 bottles to try


Adnams Jardín Mexicano

This vegan gin is made with 10 botanicals inspired by Mexican cookery, including avocado leaf, lime peel and coriander. Delivering a classic hit of juniper, it’s also leafy, fresh and herbaceous with a hint of smokiness on the nose. Silky textured and with a subtle chilli spice kick to the finish, it makes a really refreshing G&T. Garnish with lime. Alcohol 40%


Amalthea Dry Gin

A new launch from iconic London department store Fortnum & Mason, this small-batch gin is made from a base of apple spirit. The Piccadilly shop has an in-house distillery on the third floor, home to a copper still named Amalthea. Botanicals include grapefruit peel, liquorice root, Fortnum’s Monarch Marmalade and Fortnum’s Earl Grey Classic Tea, which adds an exotic note to the palate alongside plenty of punchy juniper and peppery cassia spice. Clean and crisp, with citrus creaminess on the finish and a cleansing note of grapefruit, it also makes an excellent summer G&T. The range also includes Amalthea Pink Gin with rhubarb and rose. Alc 43%


Anaë

This grape-based organic gin from France was created by the Bollinger group, drawing on the expertise of Dominiqe Touteau, Cellar Master at Delamain Cognac and Master Distiller Philippe Lacile among others. Distilled in the Cognac region, Anaë’s native French botanicals include chamomile, cornflowers, lemon thyme, lemon verbena and maceron (also known as marsh pepper) hand-harvested on the lle de Ré. The result is a distinctively herbal gin, with notes of lemon verbena, sage and thyme, plus dried Mediterranean herbs and dried flowers, balanced by fresh lemon citrus and spice. Alc 43%


Bullards Coastal Gin

Inspired by the Norfolk coastline, botanicals include hand-foraged sea aster, marsh samphire and sea purslane. I love the coastal aromas: notes of seaweed and wet stone, like walking over rock pools. There’s a breezy salinity to the citrus palate, with a salt and black pepper finish, that makes for a crisp, clean G&T. Even better, Bullards offers refills in eco pouches that can be posted back free for upcycling. Alc 40%


A bottle of gin and glass of gin and tonic on a white table with a pink background and leaves

East London Liquor Co Kew Gardens Gin

Taking inspiration from the plants and pollinators that can be found in London’s world-famous botanical gardens, this gin includes lavender and sweet orange among its botanicals. A classic style with plenty of juniper, but edged with floral notes, especially lavender, and plenty of citrus and pine freshness. Enjoy it in a floral G&T in your own garden. Alc 42%


Isle of Wight Distillery Mermaid Gin

Queen Victoria liked to spend summers on the Isle of Wight and this eye-catching gin from the island’s distillery captures the spirit of a seaside holiday. Its 10 ethically sourced botanicals include rock samphire, known locally as mermaid’s kiss. With salty ozone freshness, bright herbal tones and a long citrus finish it makes a well-balanced, fresh and creamy G&T. Alc 42%


Martin Miller’s Summerful Gin

This limited-edition is Martin Miller’s first-ever seasonal gin. 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, Summerful pays homage to its dual national identity with a third distillation of English rosemary and Arctic thyme. No surprise then that this is a delightfully fresh and herbaceous gin, which also has balancing earthy and citrus notes, plus spice and plenty of fresh pine from the juniper and rosemary. Alc 40% 


Masons of Yorkshire Fruits of the Tropics

The Masons of Yorkshire distillery was launched in 2013 by husband-and-wife team Karl and Cathy Mason. In celebration of the distillery’s 10th anniversary the duo have released this seasonal special edition, which is a tropical carnival in a glass. A London Dry style, it’s packed with tropical fruit notes – banana, pineapple, mango and passionfruit – plus sweet orange and grapefruit citrus, with balancing spice. Try it in a Tom Colins, with lemon juice, sugar syrup and sod water. Alc 38%


A bottle of gin on a table top with olive branches

Mediterranean Gin by Léoube

Provence winery Château Léoube launched its small-batch gin earlier this year. Capturing the essence of summer in the south of France, local botanicals include wild Mediterranean herbs, citrus peel, almonds and olives. These are distilled with a base of grape alcohol from the château’s organic winery. Offering distinctive garrigue and green olive aromas, this gin has a super-smooth and creamy palate, with a burst of vibrant citrus on the finish, plus dried herbs and savoury olive tapenade. Delicious! Alc 41.5%


O’ndina

Inspired by the Italian Riviera – O’ndina means ‘little wave’ – this gin is produced by the makers of Campari. Its blend of 19 botanicals is based around Italian herbs, including marjoram, fennel, sage and fresh Basilico Genovese DOP, as well as citrus from Southern Italy. In the glass it’s savoury and herbal, with notes of thyme, fresh basil and black pepper over a base of punchy juniper and fresh citrus, plus lemon verbena lingering on the finish. Given the Camapri conection it seems only right to mix up a Negroni, but it’s a versatile choice for any of your favourite gin cocktails. Alc 45%


Otterbeck Strawberry & Pink Peppercorn Cotton Gin

Housed in an old cotton mill, Otterbeck Distillery includes local botanicals from the Yorkshire Dales in its gins. This seasonal bottling uses strawberries grown by local farmer Annabel Makin-Jones, alongside hand-foraged nettle leaves and Yorkshire watercress. Loaded with sweet ripe fresh strawberry notes, balanced by a tingle of pink peppercorn, it makes a strawberries-and-cream summer afternoon G&T. Alc 42%


Porters Tropical Old Tom Gin

Created by bartenders in a micro-distillery in Aberdeen, this gin is made in an Old Tom style: a traditional 18th century recipe that’s slightly sweeter than London Dry. I love the fresh and faintly tropical aromas, with sappy leafiness, pineapple and floral touches. On the palate the Old Tom sweetness is balanced by fresh tropical fruit – pineapple, mango – edged in florals but also with earthy base notes, like walking through a humid rain forest. Makes the perfect summer G&T. Alc 40%


Red Door Seasonal Edition with Summer Botanicals

From Scottish distiller Red Door, this gin is made with local seasonal botanicals including rose petals, holy thistle, Scottish raspberry and sea buckthorn. Spicy and herbaceous aromas lead to a palate with a solid core of juniper, but edged in floral rose and violet notes, with red berry hints on the finish. Pair it with tonic for a gently floral G&T and garnish with fresh raspberries. Alc 45%


a glass and bottleof gin on the deck of a ship

Salcombe Gin Start Point – Offshore Strength

Devon’s Salcombe Distillery has partnered with Royal Ocean Racing Club to produce this new navy strength version of its classic London Dry Start Point. A percentage of sales from each bottle is donated to ocean recovery projects. Made with a blend of 13 botanicals, including grapefruit, lime and cardamom, it’s an elegant, well-balanced citrus style gin, with lovely freshness. Enjoy it in a G&T beside the sea, garnished with a slice of pink grapefruit. Alc 50%


Silent Pool English Rose Gin

With its pretty pale pink hue, Silent Pool is one of the best rose gins out there. Very elegant with perfumed floral aromas of freshly picked roses, alongside notes of rosewater and Turkish delight that linger on the crisp finish. Try it in an English Rose Tom Collins: mix 50ml of gin with 25ml each of lemon juice and sugar syrup, then top with soda water. Ideal for summer garden parties. Alc 42%


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