The gin resurgence shows no signs of slowing down, and at its heart has been London Dry gin – the style where it all began.
London Dry gin doesn’t have to be made in London – it can be made anywhere in the world – but it must be juniper-heavy. This is not the place for bizarre botanicals. It’s only allowed to have a tiny amount of sugar added, too, making London Dry gin as traditional as gin gets, and for many, it is the signature gin style.
Think of the heavyweights of the gin world – Gordon’s, Beefeater, Tanqueray – they’re all London Dry gins, and they all deliver a generous whack of juniper. This depth of flavour makes them perfect for cocktails, too, where they have the clout to stand up to the other ingredients, whether it’s in an Aviation, Negroni, or James Bond’s famous Vesper Martini.
London was gin crazy in the 18th century, satirised in William Hogarth’s famous Gin Lane print, but excessive consumption led to gin’s decline – and no distilleries operating in the City area of the capital for 200 years. That all changed with the opening of City of London Distillery in 2012, an IWSC Gold winner, which drew praise for its Square Mile Gin, with its punchy juniper, warm spices and subtle notes of cinnamon and ginseng.
Every week sees new gin distilleries popping up around the world, but despite the search for ever more creative recipes, the London Dry style will never go out of fashion. Here are the best London Dry gins from the IWSC’s 2020 spirits tasting.
City Of London Square Mile Gin
Halewood Wines & Spirits
Distinct nose opening well on dilution. Slight sweet notes on the front of the palate. Juniper and warm spices, cinnamon and ginseng linger in a long dry finish. 47.3%
Opera Gin Budapest
First Hungarian Gin Manufacture
Unctuous lemon flesh and waxy aromatic juniper are harmoniously united, rounded and concentrated components of this expressive and balanced spirit. An exceptionally fine example and a real pleasure for the senses. 44%
Crafter's London Dry Gin
Classically cool, smooth and elegant with bold spicy appeal and aromatic juniper essence, all exquisitely balanced by zesty lemon peaks. Refined splendour. 43%
Scilly Spirit Distillery
Aromatic heady herbal aromas of juniper and mint beautifully balanced by citrus, a little heat and a tongues tip of salinity. Classic with a satisfyingly modern twist. 44%
Elegant and refined with a deliciously balanced botanical element, this well rounded and harmonious gin will find favour amongst all lovers of gin. 44%
Colombo No7 London Dry Gin
Rockland Distilleries Ltd
Classical lean elegance speaks of understated greatness; well balanced and harmonious juniper and citrus notes culminate in a smooth long rounded finish. Classy. 43.1%
Barra Atlantic Gin
Isle of Barra Distillers
Earthy and spicy with a very refreshing cooling effect. Classic style. Beautiful composition of flavours and an elegant long finish with cinnamon and coriander, and warm ginger and roots. 46%
AP 7 Wonders Gin
Balanced elemental botanical nuances of violet scented orris root, aromatic juniper, a touch of resinous pine, all lifted by lemony citrus notes. Elegantly pronounced. 43%
Trevor's Own El Gin
Subtle soft fruits open on the nose while elderflower-like sweetness, apples and a tingle of citrus dance on the palate. Elegant with sublime balance. 40%
The Gin Of Ibiza
LAW Spirit of Ibiza S.L.
Zingy citrus and luscious lime offer a tantalisingly tart opening gambit, sweetly balanced and progressively cooling then crisply culminating in subtle notes of aromatic juniper. 44%
Hernö Gin 47%
A citrus driven, floral expression. Harmonious and balanced lighter style with juniper and pine on the nose. Subtle lemon, on a crisp and fresh, vibrant palate with herbal and green notes.