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Best summer gin: 12 to try

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

It means that as gin drinkers, we can be inundated with choices when it comes to selecting a favourite bottle. But it’s also a great opportunity to explore different tastes and get creative with a summer cocktail– or even with a simple serve like a Gin and Tonic.

The selection of gins below includes new releases, old favourites and some special 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.

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

Summer gin: 12 bottles to try

Adnam’s Jardín Mexicano Gin

This limited-edition, 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. Alc 40%

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%

Cambridge Distillery Vintage 2021 Spring Summer Gin

One for connoisseurs, this limited-release (just 300 bottles) is an innovative gin crafted by Master of Wine and Master Distiller William Lowe of Cambridge Distillery. Inspired by vintage variation in winemaking, Lowe aimed to capture the essence and flavour of locally foraged fresh botanicals from the spring and summer of 2021 in this vintage bottling. It’s a blend of separate distillates from botanicals including lemon balm, hawthorn blossom and nettle. Elegant and delicate, with notes of meadow flowers and a gentle herbaceousness balanced by lifted citrus, it’s a superlative Martini gin. Alc 42% 

Cotton Gin Strawberry & Pink Peppercorn

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%

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% 

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%

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%

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%

Tenby Dry Gin Navy Strength

Based on the coast of Wales, The Pembrokeshire Gin Co distils its spirits using botanicals including Welsh rosemary and four different citrus peels. The Navy Strength expression is a punchy, aromatic, juniper-led gin with a refreshing blast of citrus and pine. Just like a breezy summer walk along the Pembrokeshire coast. I love this in a G&T. Pair it with Fentimans Connoisseurs Tonic Water and garnish with lemon for a classic summertime serve. Alc 57%

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