With Mother’s Day fast approaching, you may be on the hunt for an original gift to show your mum just how much you appreciate her. Flowers will fade and chocolates rarely last long, so why not invest in a decent bottle of gin for her this year?
Admittedly mums and gin haven’t always had the best press. The spirit was nicknamed ‘mother’s ruin’ back in the 18th century, when cheap gins became widely available in England. They sparked a gin-drinking craze among the poorer population, and gin was consequently blamed for all kinds of social ills. It took an act of parliament in 1751 to regulate gin sales and bring the situation back under control.
Fast-forward to the present day and the current gin craze is an altogether more sophisticated affair. It has been driven by several factors, but was kick-started by a change in legislation in 2008 to allow production of craft gins in small distilleries.
The increased popularity of cocktail culture, as well as a renewed interest in the provenance of drinks and shopping local have also played a part. With small distilleries springing up everywhere, gin fans can buy local and also learn about regional ingredients used by distillers.
On the flip side, this means that gin lovers are increasingly spoiled for choice, as an ever-expanding range of bottles appear in our shops. It can be confusing to know where to start with so many options – especially if you’re trying to find a special bottle as a gift.
Going back to basics, all gin is distilled as a neutral base spirit and then flavoured with botanicals. A ‘botanical’ is defined as any plant-based substance, ranging from roots, flowers, berries and leaves, to herbs and spices.
All gins must contain juniper berries – it’s juniper that gives gin its piney freshness and crisp, dry palate. In addition to juniper, citrus peel, coriander seeds and angelica root are commonly used to form a botanical core.
Beyond that, a dazzling array of botanicals can appear in gin: from florals such as rose and lavender to spicy peppercorns. While some distillers choose to focus on one particular botanical to produce a particular style, such as floral or herbal, others aim for a balanced mix to create their house style. See the recommendations below for tips on individual styles that might suit your mum.
Meanwhile, if you really want to spoil your mum, how about mixing up a gin cocktail for her to enjoy while she puts her feet up on Mother’s Day? From classics such as the Gin & Tonic and the Martini to the sparkling French 75 and honey-laced Bee’s Knees, there are plenty of recipes to try at home.
Alternatively invest in a quality ready-to-drink bottled cocktail. The Heads & Tails range includes Angel Face – a pretty, peachy mix of gin, apricot liqueur and still cider (£36.99/50cl, Not on the High Street, Alc 22.3%). For more liquid inspiration, read on…
Mother’s Day gin: best bottles to buy
Beefeater Crown Jewel
Treat your mum like a queen with a bottle of Crown Jewel. Beefeater first launched its premium gin back in 1993. Only available in travel retail, it became a collectable cult hit, but was discontinued in 2009. Thankfully the distillery had a change of heart and reintroduced it last year, with a higher bottling strength and striking ruby bottle inspired by the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Made to the same recipe as Beefeater Original but with grapefruit as a 10th botanical, it’s smooth and creamy, with real depth of flavour and intensity. A big hit of juniper is perfectly balanced by green chilli and black pepper spice plus lots of crisp lemon and grapefruit. Alcohol 50%
If you like to say it with flowers, why not say it with a floral gin? Created by Master Distiller Joanne Moore, Bloom is a light gin style, made with less juniper to create an easy-drinking spirit that will even appeal to non-gin drinkers. Made with botanicals including pomelo, chamomile and honeysuckle, you can use it to create a super-smooth and delicate G&T, with a gentle florality that lingers on finish. Alc 40%
Chapel Down Pinot Noir Gin
For mamas who are partial to both wine and gin, this pink gin from English wine producer Chapel Down ticks all the boxes. Made from distilled Pinot Noir grape skins, infused with botanicals including coriander and rosehip, the pale pink hue comes from dried raspberries and strawberries. Try it in a Tenterden Blush sparkling cocktail: 50ml of gin mixed with 50ml lemonade and topped with 25ml of Chapel Down Brut. Alc 41.2%
Cotton Gin Strawberry & Pink Peppercorn
If your ma loves afternoon tea, with strawberries and cream, this gin should meet with her approval. Otterbeck Distillery is housed in an old cotton mill and uses local botanicals from the Yorkshire Dales in its gins. This fruity 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 delightful strawberries-and-cream, summer afternoon G&T. Alc 42%
Ginarte Frida Kahlo Dry Gin
Distilled in the wine region of Chianti, this Italian gin is made with Tuscan botanicals including safflower, mignonette and lavender, as well as wild celery and pine buds. With a punchy juniper and pine palate, it makes a super-fresh G&T, laced with Tuscan summer herbal and floral notes. Even better, it looks as good as it tastes… Every bottle celebrates the work of a particular artist – in this case the distinctive designs of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo – beautifully boxed to make a perfect present for art-loving mums. Alc 43.5%
Gyre & Gimble Queen of Hearts Cherry Gin
If your mum is the queen of your heart, then treat her to this delectable cherry gin. Fans of Alice in Wonderland will recognise ‘gyre and gimble’ from the book’s Jabberwocky poem. It’s also the inspiration behind the zero-waste Gyre & Gimble cocktail bar and distillery in Norwich, which produces this gin named after Alice’s nemesis, the Queen of Hearts. Fruity botanicals include cherries (obviously), apricots, bananas and custard apples – and the gin is finished off with a cherry juice concentrate for good measure. The fruity maraschino cherry palate has a hint of cherry bakewell and a crisp finish. Sippable neat or mix it with soda water. Alc 40%
With its distinctive green bottle, this French gin is the perfect springtime bottle for Mother’s Day. Made in the Cognac region with a base spirit distilled from Ugni Blanc grapes, and botanicals including vine flowers, it’s fruity and floral: spring orchard blossom. Plenty of juniper and spice alongside fruity notes of ripe white grape and pear, plus herbaceous freshness. Try treating your mum to a Tom Collins cocktail (50ml gin, 25ml lemon juice, 25ml sugar syrup, 125ml chilled soda water) garnished with green grapes. Alc 40%
Jindea Single Estate Tea Gin
Mums are well known for dispensing cups of tea and sympathy – and if your mother is a tea lover, why not choose a gin with tea botanicals. Jindea is made with first flush Darjeeling tea and boasts serious drinks industry pedigree. Created by three bar professionals with historic family links to India, working with Ajit Madam, the UK’s first certified Tea Sommelier, Jindea is a refreshing citrusy gin with elegant tea notes and ginger spice. It’s one of my favourite gins for a G&T. Alc 40%
Helen Browning’s Organic Gin
Mother’s Day celebrates inspiring women – and Helen Browning has done more than most to further the cause of organic farming in the UK. As well as running her own organic farm in Wiltshire, with agroforestry, she’s also chief executive of the Soil Association and was awarded an OBE in 1998 for services to farming. Her lovely organic and sustainable gin is made with botanicals including sea buckthorn, perry pears, elderflower and rosemary. Clean and crisp, with lifted citrus and floral aromas, plus a creamy, full-bodied palate. A base of piney juniper and rosemary lingers on the herbal finish, while the tang of sea buckthorn mingles with sweet orange citrus, crisp lemon, light floral notes, a touch of honey and gentle spice. Alc 40%
Lind & Lime Gin
Made in Edinburgh, this Scottish craft gin comes in a beautiful bottle but – just like your mother – it’s more than a pretty face. It celebrates the work of Edinburgh doctor, James Lind, who in the 18th century discovered that citrus fruit helps to prevent scurvy: one of the reasons why you should listen to your mum when she tells you to eat more fruit… That’s why lime is one of the key botanicals in this gin, along with pink peppercorns, which help to create a truly classy gin with citrus freshness and distinctive spiciness. Alc 40%
With its shimmering fish scale bottle and foraged coastal rock samphire botanicals, Mermaid makes a good alternative to treating your mum to a day out at the seaside on Mother’s Day. Made on the Isle of Wight, there is a lovely breezy ozone freshness to the aromas and a slight salty note on the finish. Makes a fresh and creamy G&T, as well as looking stunning on your mama’s sideboard. Alc 42%
Mother Original Gin
Support working mums with this gin created by Alishia Thomas, founder of a flexible-working freelance agency for women juggling childcare and a career. The Liverpudlian mother-of-one was inspired to set up her own business after struggling to find a job that allowed her to return to work part-time after maternity leave. Her website Mother sells a range of lovely gifts for mums, including Mother Original Gin, created with botanicals such as cherry blossom, lemon and lavender. Alc 40%
Salcombe’s Seamist may look like a glamorous crystal perfume atomiser, but it contains a clever ‘liquid garnish’ created using coastal botanicals and Cornish Sea salt to encapsulate the essence of the ocean. Pimp your G&T by mixing Salcombe Start Point Gin (Alc 44%) with your favourite tonic and plenty of ice in a balloon glass, then finish with two sprays of Seamist over the top of the glass. Or create a glamorous Mistini using 50ml gin, 20ml dry vermouth and 10ml fino Sherry, finished with four spritzes of Seamist. Alc 60%
Secret Garden Wild Gin
If your mum loves gardening or the great outdoors, choose The Old Curiosity Distillery’s Secret Garden Wild Gin, created by former wine merchant Hamish Martin, a man with a herbology diploma and a lifelong passion for plants. Botanicals including nettle, dwarf birch and bog myrtle grow in the distillery’s gin garden in the Flow Country, a peatland ecosystem in northern Scotland. Secret Garden makes a smooth, herbal G&T and 20% of proceeds from sales are donated to the RSPB’s preservation work in the Flow Country. Alc 39%
Silent Pool English Rose Gin
This special release from Surrey distiller Silent Pool is a perfect choice if rose is your mum’s favourite fragrance. Many rose gins can end up smelling and tasting confected, but this is well made, with fresh floral aromas and distinct notes of rose water and Turkish delight that linger on the crisp citrus finish. Celebrate Mother’s Day with an English Rose Tom Collins: mix 50ml English Rose Gin with 25ml lemon juice and 25ml sugar syrup. Top with soda water and garnish with a twist of lemon peel. Alc 42%