Top 10 international gins

Olivier Ward (editor of Gin Foundry) talks us through 10 of the best international gins from around the world. Including St. George Terroir, Ferdinands Saar, Herno Juniper Cask, and Gin Mare.

St. George Terroir Gin – California, USA


Originally established by Jörg Rupf in 1982, it has taken them up to 30 years to grow from a one man band to the 65,000 square foot Naval hangar that stands today. With adventurous and bold flavours combined with a deep rooted passion for the craft of distilling – all three St. George Spirits Gins are worth looking out for, but their Terroir Gin is a unique proposition that tastes like no other we’ve ever come across. Bay laurel, Douglas fir, sage and fennel all combine into a delicious mix!

Monkey 47 – Germany

Botanically complex and combining a great story with great design work to create a formidable package, Monkey 47 Gin is set to make its stake as king of gins over the next few years. It’s a name that many have become used to in the UK (named after the fact that it uses 47 botanicals), yet its makers have never really pushed it here. This organic growth is testament to one thing – the gin is extraordinary and is big enough to all the talking required.

Ferdinands Saar Gin – Germany

Ferdinand’s Saar Dry Gin owes its name to the royal Prussian District Forester Ferdinand Geltz, the historical figure who also co-founded the VDP Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Zilliken estate, one of Germany’s finest vineyards. If provenance matters to you, the traceability of this gin is impeccable as the majority of the botanicals are locally sourced. In total, thirty organic botanicals are used to create the gin, which is then infused with Schiefer Riesling. To taste, the lavender and rosecups come to the fore and a Riesling wine backbone underpins the ensemble. The juniper doesn’t quite play second fiddle, but it’s much more subtle in this botanically intense gin.

SANTAMANíA – Madrid, Spain

New to the UK, SANTAMANíA Gin has an undertone of grapes, raspberries and almonds that compliment a juicy juniper core. With a barrel aged variant also created as well as talk of excited releases due in 2015, expect this gin to become a frequent sighting over the next 18 months. As a distillery, if SANTAMANíA shows one thing alone it’s that the gin market isn’t saturated for producers with authenticity. With a little attention to detail and a good dose of obsession – it is still possible to create something genuinely different and worthy of capturing your attention.

N.Y Perry’s Tot Navy Gin – New York, USA

N.Y Distilling have managed to create two unique gins that are picking up awards in competitions around the world. However, with craft distilling maintaining its appeal as more consumers search out for the stories behind product – New York Distilling Co’s biggest asset is provenance. In Perry’s Tot (which incidentally, was the first American Navy Strength Gin) – they use wild flower honey from upstate New York in the botanical line up. The gin is juniper forward surrounded by warming spice and earthy orange. It’s one that should go on any gin lover’s must try list, especially if you like the higher proof styles.

Herno Juniper Cask – Sweden

Having only launched on the 1st of December 2012 as the first gin-only distillery in Sweden, Hernö Swedish Excellence Gin has already earned itself a well-established name. Hernö have now got a Navy Strength, an Old Tom, a Juniper Cask Aged Gin and Blackcurrant Gin in their burgeoning portfolio. All are worth trying should you get the chance but the Juniper Cask is completely unlike anything else you’ll ever taste or smell. Resinous and sappy wood, deep juniper and spice – much like visiting the distillery – it’s an absolute must have experience.

Gin Mare – Spain

Gin Mare has long been the reference point for a brand that’s pushed the boundary of what a “gin” could taste like. With rosemary, thyme, olive, and basil included in the botanical line up it’s unusual – savoury yet balanced and mixable. With a savvy brand team and distillers who’ve been making spirits for generations, Gin Mare has steadily established itself as one of the giants of the Spanish gin scene. If you haven’t tried this yet, you’ve missed out!

F.E.W Barrel Aged Gin – Chicago, USA

F.E.W Barrel aged gin uses a different recipe to their flagship American Gin, with a heavier dose of juniper and spice in the botanical mix. Bottled at 46.5% ABV, the wood is evident from the amber, leathery colour and to taste, it is one of the best examples of the potential for barrel-aged gins available in the world. Spirits aside, their grain-to-glass approach is mightily impressive and I’ve got a lot of respect for this team of ginsmiths who managed to change the local laws to make their dream possible.

G’Vine Nouaison – France

G’Vine is batch distilled using a neutral grape spirit and fresh whole-fruit botanicals in France’s Cognac region. While the region may be known as the birth place of centuries-old distillation practices using the Ugni Blanc grape variety, G’Vine was the first to use it as a base spirit for gin. Their flagship gin, G’Vine Nouasion offers a real point of difference as it is floral, fresh and fruity tones are vibrant and unique. These inherent characteristics shine through in a French 75.

Four Pillars Gin – Australia

Four Pillars Gin is a prime example as to why the Australian market has so much potential. The gin includes 10 botanicals and to taste, the two Oceanic twists they include give the end product is genuinely a different take on gin. The Tasmanian pepperberry leaf adds warmth rather than piquancy while lemon myrtle is a unique alternative to lemon peel. Juniper is clearly there, alongside an array of traditional flavours but the slight, regional, twists really add new depth.

Meet the Master Distillers behind each of these brands at Gin Foundry’s gin festival, Junipalooza taking place on 13 and 14 June 2015. To book tickets visit Gin Foundry. Highlights at Junipalooza include Olivier’s masterclasses, topics will be on ‘The Art of the Gin and Tonic’, ‘The Anthology of Gin’ and brand presentations. Over the weekend you will be able to enjoy gin cocktails, sample over 25 different gins to the background of immersive installations that combine botanicals, music and food creating a unique and fun experience.

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