11 American Gins to Try
Lately, it’s become easier than ever to make that drink a delicious cocktail spiked with American-made gin.
Although London dry gins will never go out of style, the growing ranks of “New American” or “New Western” gins have made strong strides. In addition to the required juniper, which defines gin, these new American gins may be flavored with a wider array of botanicals—often nods to regional fruit, citrus or floral ingredients, as well as herbs and spices.
Amid this innovation, we can also report that barrel-aged gins are increasingly exciting. This new-to-us style of gin (in truth, it’s a very old technique, with historical roots back to when barrels were the primary means of transporting spirits), reclaims barrels that previously held whiskey or wine. Wine-lovers in particular may want to finagle a bottle of St. George’s Dry Rye “Reposado”—a term usually reserved for aged Tequila.
In another sign of the times: Local Wine and Spirits, a Chicago-based producer and distributor, is petitioning the government to include “American Dry” as a bona fide gin category.
“It will be the tip of the spear in moving towards greater appellation in our craft spirits,” LWS says. “We can envision the day when regional gins like Sonoma Coast Gin, Rocky Mountain Gin, Southwest Chaparral Gin all exist and create a tapestry of style that is as unique as the people who live in various regions of our country.” (Want to sign their petition?)
That kind of independent spirit is what the Fourth of July is all about—and we’ll gladly drink to that.
Infused with citrus peel and spices, then aged in a former Bourbon barrel for 12 months, this mellow, soft gin has lots of body. Look for a good dose of vanilla chased by cinnamon heat, plus touches of honey, oak and citrus on the finish. With a splash of simple syrup, this complex, golden gin is almost a cocktail on its own.
abv: 44% Price: $40
This brisk, citrusy gin is made for classic cocktails. Bold lemon and grapefruit notes meld with a light floral note and just enough juniper to hold it all together. Amid the bright citrus bouquet, you might detect another, more elusive fruity scent. Surprise! This gin is distilled from apples.
abv: 44% Price: $30
So what is “Texas-style” gin, exactly? It’s “big as Texas,” the producer boasts. More specifically, it’s bright, fresh and well-structured, bursting with juniper, rosemary and grapefruit. Bottled at 94 proof, it’s also quite muscular, finishing with a warmth that should be tempered when mixed into drinks. Pecans are listed among the botanicals used, although they are impossible to detect. Best Buy.
abv: 47% Price: $19
Made in the London dry style and packaged in a distinctive peacock-blue bottle, this gin has mild aromatics and fleeting sweetness on the palate chased by citrus, juniper and spice. The finish is crisp and assertive, even slightly hot at 94 proof, but that won’t matter once mixed into a tall gin-and-tonic or Tom Collins.
abv: 47% Price: $28
The gingerbread-like aroma entices with a fleeting whiff of nutmeg and baking spice, while the palate zings with grapefruit-peel bitterness and lemon verbena. The mouthwatering finish harmoniously echoes the spicy notes detected in the aroma: anise, cardamom, baking spice, and a final dose of citrus, all smoothed over by a cucumber-like freshness.
abv: 40% Price: $30
Though golden orange in the glass, this is not a barrel-aged gin; rather, it’s infused with botanicals (as most gins are), but hasn’t had the color distilled out. It’s sweet and soft on the palate, and the different constituents sing out clearly: juniper, anise and clove are backed by a wave of honey and allspice, plus a surprising dark-fruit note in the back of the palate and a light floral accent on the exit.
abv: 42% Price: $35
Distilled from California grapes, it holds a bold, mildly sweet profile. At first sip, candied citrus peel seems to dominate, but star anise really rings through on the spicy finish. It delivers a soft and smooth feel.
abv: 46% Price: $35
This is styled after a classic dry gin. Look for mild aromatics that nod to white flowers and citrus. On the palate, lightly sweet candied-lemon peel is framed by lively juniper and anise, finishing with a brisk flourish of pink peppercorns and ginger. Recommended for gimlets and other cocktails.
abv: 45% Price: $33
Get ready, wine-lovers: this unusual rosy gin is made from a rye base, infused with gin botanicals, and then is “rested” for 18 months in casks that previously held Syrah and Grenache wines. Oddly, the end result is not particularly wine-, whiskey-, nor gin-like. It’s a whole other animal, crazily hoppy and malty and oaky, with a mild effervescence and an amaro-like roots-and-herbs presence that winds into a rounded but fleeting dark-fruit quality on the finish. Try dosing with sweet vermouth for a Manhattan-like cocktail.
abv: 49.5% Price: $50
Juniper-forward aromas suggest a classic London dry profile. The lively, brisk palate features anise and juniper, finishing crisp, if somewhat hot. Bring on the dry vermouth and mix up a pitcher of well-chilled martinis.
abv: 40% Price: $33
Made from Washington state barley, this is a bold and spicy take on gin. It’s malty and lightly sweet, with notes of anise, cardamom and cassia bark.
abv: 47% Price: $39
- 194 Bourbon Barrel Gin (USA; Watershed Distillery, Columbus, OH)
- 293 Karner Blue Distilled Gin (USA; Flag Hill Distillery, Lee, NH)
- 393 Waterloo Texas-Style Gin (USA; Treaty Oak Distilling Co., Austin, TX)
- 492 Bluecoat American Dry Gin (USA; Philadelphia Distilling, Philadelphia, PA)
- 591 Counter Gin (USA; Batch 206 Distillers, Seattle, WA)
- 691 TRU organic gin (USA; Greenbar Distillery, Los Angeles, CA)
- 790 Bummer & Lazarus Dry Gin (USA; Raff Distillerie, San Francisco, CA)
- 890 North Shore Distillery Distiller’s Gin No. 11 USA; North Shore Distillery, Lake Bluff, IL)
- 990 St. George Dry Rye Reposado Gin (USA; St. George Spirits, Alameda, CA)
- 1089 Curious Gin (USA; Catskill Distilling Company, Bethel, NY)
- 1188 Copperworks Distilling Company (USA; Copperworks Distilling, Seattle, WA)