Mother’s Ruin. Dutch Courage. Ladies’ Delight. Gin has managed to rack up a fair share of nicknames since its inception during the Middle Ages. The gin most of us sip today is simply a modern-day evolution of the Dutch liquor known as jenever. Originally used as an herbal remedy, it continued its progression over the centuries, eventually rising to international fame in Great Britain during the late 1600s when William of Orange became King William III of England. Ever since, the world has continued to associate the spirit with the U.K., and the London Dry style still reigns as one of the most popular interpretations (think: Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, and Tanqueray). But some of the best craft gins deviate from the classic.
First, a primer: Gin begins as a clear, neutral, flavorless spirit—just like vodka. Here’s where the two separate: While vodka leans into that tasteless characteristic designed to be used as a base for cocktails, gin is infused with juniper berries, coriander, anis, angelica root, and various other herbs and botanicals. And while many drinkers have difficulty differentiating between various vodkas, gin’s ever-broadening variation of added ingredients beyond the telltale juniper provides—more than ever—some real diversity in flavors. They can lean more herbal, juniper-driven, or even citrus-centric.
But don’t get caught pigeonholing gin into one style or region of origin. These days, there are more gin labels on the market than ever before, and many of the most exciting options come from destinations you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Here are some of the best craft gins from across the globe. Enjoy them neat, on the rocks, or mixed into classic cocktails like the gin & tonic, gin gimlet, negroni, Tom Collins, and aviation.
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