Gin is an ever-evolving and expansive category of spirits. As evidenced by the crisp, citrusy gins that have carried us through summer and the savory, piney gins that are perfect for winter sipping.
Juniper, the only required botanical, isn’t subtle and gives the spirit its classic characteristics. But juniper also plays well with loads of botanicals, such as common ingredients like coriander and citrus peels, for example. But this botanical also pairs perfectly with less common ingredients like lingonberry and hibiscus.
Even the base spirit for gin is evolving beyond barley and other grain to fruits. With so many botanical possibilities there is a gin for every season and a gin for every palate.
Bixby Dry Gin; $39, 95 points. The slightly sweet aroma offers a hint of spearmint. Grapefruit peel astringency leads into an herbaceous midpalate, finishing brisk and minty alongside a hit of ginger heat. This hits all the right notes for a top-flight Martini. It’s a small batch gin made with citrus, elderflower and California bay leaf. —Kara Newman
Hard Truth Gin; $28, 94 points. A pleasant, gentle lemon-peel aroma leads the nose. The palate is equally citrusy, melding lemon and grapefruit with pine, It finishes clean with a burst of white pepper heat. Distilled from wheat. —K.N.
Highside Distilling Gin; $38, 94 points. Distilled from Washington apples, this robust gin is malty on nose and palate. Lemony acidity leads into a savory, lip-smacking finish tinged with cucumber, black pepper, grains of paradise and cayenne sparks. —K.N.
Occitan London Dry Gin; $43/1L, 93 points. The aroma is mild, almost neutral. The palate opens with cucumber and a hint of tarragon freshness, while the crisp, smooth finish brings in juniper, grapefruit pith, and a hint of white pepper. Ideal for Gin & Tonics, Collins and other cocktails. —K.N.
Mulholland Gin; $27, 92 points. A waft of cucumber leads the nose, echoed on the silky palate from start to finish, accented by brisk white pepper and lime peel. Distilled from corn. —K.N.
100 Mill St Gin; $50, 92 points. Made from a base of maple sap, this newcomer offers a malty aroma freshened with a whiff of eucalyptus. The palate is pleasingly sweet-savory, tinged with pink peppercorn, rosewater and a fleeting raspberry note, finishing with assertive coriander spice. Small batch; only 3,000 bottles made each year. —K.N.
Nordés Atlantic Galician Gin; $35, 92 points. With time in the glass, this gin becomes particularly aromatic, mixing citrus and floral notes. The palate leads with herbaceous sage and bay leaf, leading into a floral exhale—hibiscus is one of the botanicals—tinged with grapefruit peel and lemon verbena. —K.N.
Highclere Castle London Dry Gin; $40, 91 points. For fans of Downton Abbey, this gin hails from the owners of Highclere Castle, where the series was filmed, and made with botanicals inspired by those grown in the Castle’s herb garden. Look for a citrusy aroma and demure hints of pink peppercorn, mint and lavender, plus a mouthwatering salinity. A floral note emerges on the mentholated exit. —K.N.
Prairie Organic Gin; $20, 91 points. Light and herbaceous, this is a veritable herb garden of a gin. Hints of fresh rosemary entice nose and palate, while delicate tarragon, mint, sage and eucalyptus add complexity, finishing with grapefruit peel astringency. Best Buy. —K.N.
Flower City Gin; $24, 90 points. Like a walk in a pine forest, this brisk gin has a bold juniper character, finishing long with eucalyptus and sweet mint, plus ginger zing. Best Buy. —K.N.
Freeland Spirits Gin; $35, 90 points. Look for a mild cucumber aroma and robust palate that showcases anise and lemon tartness, echoing a hint of cucumber and clove heat on the exhale. With repeated sips, the anise note seems to expand and blossom, and adds a minty finish. —K.N.