Gin can seem intimidating to those unfamiliar with it, especially considering its broad, dynamic flavor profile and the countless available options. While excellent in classic cocktails (consider a violet-hued Aviation, frothy Ramos gin fizz, or dirty martini), it’s also a treat when paired with simple carbonated mixers (tonic water, soda water, or ginger ale) that highlight this liquor’s complex flavors. But at the end of the day, a good bottle of gin needs very little to dazzle the palate. Enjoy it on the rocks, or even straight.
Not sure what style or brand of gin is right for you? We have all the intel below. And for those hit by a wave of gin-spiration, try our recipes for refreshing gin and tonic pops and delightfully boozy gin and tonic pickles, or treat yourself to one of these gifts for gin lovers.
What are the different types of gin?
Gin (a.k.a. “Dutch Courage”) is arguably one of the most versatile liquors out there. It’s usually made from a minimum of 10 botanical ingredients, the most common of which is juniper berries. (Thanks to this antioxidant-rich “super fruit,” gin has long been surrounded by an aura of health—in the 16th century, it was even used to treat stomach aches and anxiety.)
Gin has a lower sugar content than some other alcohols, though mixers can quickly change that. Despite the fact that its primary flavor comes from juniper berries, secondary notes can be derived from a wide array of ingredients, such as various fruits, herbs, spices, and, of course, other botanicals.
Most gins can be classified into four categories:
Also simply referred to as “dry gin,” this is the most traditional and most popular type of gin—and, despite its name, doesn’t actually have to be produced in England. It generally does, however, have to be made according to strict purity standards, which have origins in the 18th century and are meant to ensure the absence of toxic distillation byproducts.
In short, the phrase “London dry” means that the spirit must be distilled in a column still to at least 70 percent alcohol by volume (A.B.V.). Natural botanicals can be added to the resulting neutral spirit only through re-distillation, but any additions after distillation beyond water and a little bit of sugar disqualify the gin from being considered a London dry.
This classic, juniper-forward gin offers a crisp, clear taste that forgoes most sweetness in favor of a more woodsy palate. Translation: It’s basically like sipping on a Christmas tree.
If you can remember your last gin-fueled hangover (we’ve all been there), chances are you were shooting back some Navy Strength gin. At 57 percent A.B.V., this overproof London dry packs quite a punch. However, this big, bold gin variant isn’t just about excess; as the liquid’s alcohol content increases, so does its flavor. Navy Strength definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, or your typical lightweight, but more experienced gin fans might be pleasantly surprised by this fully-loaded style of gin.
As the only regionally-restricted type of gin, Plymouth gin uses slightly more botanicals than traditional London dry gins, giving it a sweeter, earthier taste. This gin must be made in Plymouth, England, but only one distillery and brand remains in the Plymouth region—the aptly named Plymouth Gin.
Old Tom gins—which are usually sweeter and easier to drink than Plymouth gins—use more ingredients for a broader taste and less bite, making them perfect for cocktails because of their mildness and added flavor. As the story goes, its name originates from black cat (a.k.a. an old tom) signs used by underground pubs after gin sales were curtailed in 18th-century England. Savvy drinkers would reportedly approach these signs, insert money into a slot, and a shot of Old Tom gin would be delivered to drinkers through a tube in the wall. And we thought American speakeasies were clever!
Our top picks
- Best Contemporary Gin: Dorothy Parker American Gin
- Best Budget Contemporary Gin: Aviation American Gin
- Best Splurge Contemporary Gin: Hendrick’s Gin
- Best London Dry Gin: Tanqueray London Dry Gin
- Best Budget London Dry Gin: Aria Portland Dry Gin
- Best Splurge London Dry Gin: Suncliffe Dry Gin
- Best Japanese Gin: Nikka Coffey Gin
- Best Budget Japanese Gin: Roku Gin
- Best Argentinian Gin: Principe de Los Apostoles Mate Gin
- Best Irish Gin: Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin
- Best Sweet Gin: Malfy Rosa Gin
- Best Gin to Drink Straight: Koval Dry Gin
- Best Botanical Gin: Bloom Gin
- Best Barrel Aged Gin: Koval Barreled Gin
- Best Navy Strength Gin: Plymouth Navy Strength
- Best Gin for Gin and Tonics: Empress 1908 Original Indigo Gin
- Best Gin for a Gin Fizz: St. George Terroir Gin
- Best Gin for Martinis: Beefeater London Dry Gin
- Best Gin for Negronis: St. George Botanivore Gin
How We Picked These Products
Here at Delish, we take our alcohol very seriously, so we knew we had to find some reliable experts to help us find the perfect quaffs. We turned to informed sippers ranging from master bartenders to beverage directors at some of the top restaurants in the country, as well as a few knowledgeable gin lovers on our own team. After reviewing their recommendations and online brand reviews, as well as gauging factors like distillation process, flavor profile, and affordability, these are the best bottles of gin you can buy in 2022.
Dorothy Parker American Gin
Named for renowned poet, satirist, critic, and activist Dorothy Parker, it’s no surprise Dorothy Parker American Gin is just as iconic as the woman who inspired its moniker. For Natalie Grindstaff, Director of Beverage for Italian spot Vallata in N.Y.C., Dorothy Parker was an easy choice for the best gin.
“It has a hibiscus top note, that [holds] true even when mixed,” she said. “Our ethos in both food and booze is ‘what’s local or what’s best,’ and we especially love when what’s local is what’s best!”
Aaron Moses Robin, Beverage Director at one of New York’s leading cocktail destinations, The Standard, High Line, is likewise enamored with this American gin, praising its “distinct floral note from the hibiscus [that] shines through in any cocktail from gimlet to negroni. It’s balanced, interesting and distinct.”
This contemporary gin may not impress classic gin fans, but we think even they’ll appreciate it in a Bees Knees.
- Excellent flavor profile
- Not for traditionalists
Aviation American Gin
No, we’re not just putting Aviation Gin on our list in the hopes that Ryan Reynolds will slide into our D.M.s. If celebrity endorsements mean something to you, Aviation is co-owned by Reynolds, who constantly raves about this versatile liquor and tucks it in his movies every chance he gets.
However, he’s not the only fan. Director of Video Julia Smith praises it as “a great gin for the cost.” Since Aviation’s launch in 2006, this contemporary brand’s flowery notes of creme de violette, lavender, and cardamom and long finish have made it a polarizing subject for diehard traditional gin fans, but we think gin and tonic lovers will especially get a kick out of Reynolds’ ode to fatherhood, the “Vasectomy” cocktail.
- Great in cocktails
- Polarizing taste
Hand-crafted in the Southwest coastal town of Girvan, Scotland, Hendrick’s is made 500 liters at a time to ensure each and every batch is up to the company’s impressively high standards. On its own, you’ll taste roses, cucumbers, juniper, and 10 other fine botanicals, which earn bottlings praise on Flaviar for being “clean, crisp, and utterly refreshing.”
Overall, this is a good gin to reach for when you’re crafting a cocktail or some Gin and Titonic Shots.
- Meticulously crafted
Tanqueray London Dry Gin
When you think of gin, you probably think of the iconic green bottle of Tanqueray—which makes sense, considering it’s one of the most awarded gins on the market.
Boasting a spicy, woodsy, and juniper-forward flavor, this revitalizing gin is distilled four times to ensure a dry, crisp taste. As one reviewer on Flaviar points out, the “near perfect balance of floral and citrus notes” makes it a great option for cocktails, such as the evergreen Tanqueray and tonic or a spicy Bees Knees.
- Mass appeal
Aria Portland Dry Gin
Whoever said Americans can’t make a great London dry gin clearly hasn’t tried Aria Portland Dry Gin, which is distilled right here in the U.S. at Bull Run Distillery in Portland. This well-balanced beverage offers excellent complexity and depth at a price that won’t break the bank.
Noah Manskar, bartender at Colonia Verde in Brooklyn, New York, calls it “an incredibly versatile take on the London dry style,” noting its well-balanced mix of botanicals with juniper at the forefront and an underpinning of spice and citrus. “Aria delivers a classic London dry flavor profile with more complexity and less bite than its cousins from across the pond,” he said.
Though contemporary gin fans might find this traditional option to be a bit too, well, traditional, Manskar assures this spirit will shine in “just about any gin cocktail and is delicious sipped with tonic.”
- Well-balanced and complex
- Not for fans of contemporary gins
Suncliffe Dry Gin
Distilled with juniper berries freshly shaken off trees in Sedona, Arizona, the complex and aromatic Suncliffe literally bottles up everything there is to love about its home state.
This American-made London dry gin delivers notes of fennel and cedar on the nose, while nutmeg and coriander on the palate lead to a peppery finish. General Manager Sergio Campos of Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a fan.
“I love to support local spirits,” he said, adding that the business is women and LGBTQ-owned. “It tastes like Arizona, a true nature distillation and makes a killer gin and tonic.”
- Great for cocktail
- Fresh and complex taste
Nikka Coffey Gin
When the father of Japanese whisky, Masataka Taketsuru, opened the doors to Nikka Whisky Company in 1934, the rest, as they say, was history. After the distillery added Nikka Coffey Gin to its roster in 2017, it quickly made a name for itself—in fact, Jodie Battles, beverage director for Boston staples Toro, Coppa, and Little Donkey, says she “loves introducing gin drinkers to this liquor because Japanese gin is rare to come across, so not many gin drinkers have experienced its distinctive flavors.”
This modern beverage offers a more complex flavor profile, which Battles describes as having “notes of apple and citrus… [with] just a kiss of pepper.”
This may be a turn-off for those who prefer a more traditional taste that doesn’t overpower mixers, but gin fans are sure to enjoy the unique, complex layers when drinking it straight.
- Distinctive, complex flavor profile
- Great for drinking straight
- Not great with mixers
Roku Japanese Gin
For the adventurous imbiber with a serious case of wanderlust, consider Roku Gin. Made by the House of Suntory in Osaka, Japan, the distillery dates all the way back to the 1930s, so it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing. It’s an all-time favorite of Bobby Leonardo, head bartender at homestyle Thai restaurant Wayla in New York City.
Leonardo assures tasters “will definitely uncover more flavors [with each sip],” pointing to its six Japanese ingredients: yuzu, sansho pepper, green tea, gyokuro tea, sakura flower, and sakura leaf. Fun fact, these ingredients are how this gin gets its name—“roku” is Japanese for “six.”
Though the flavor profile is a bit unbalanced and bitter, we think Roku will impress fans of martinis or complex botanical gins.
- Unique taste
- Slightly bitter and unbalanced
Principe De Los Apostoles Mate Gin
Is drinking Principe de Los Apostoles Mate Gin the next-best thing to traveling to Argentina? This excitingly herb-forward spirit is distilled with peperina (an aromatic wild plant native to the Andes mountain range), which provides a perfect balance of bitterness and minty-ness.
Greg Kong, Head Bartender at New York City’s Kimika, a Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant, is a huge fan and was quick to sing this gin’s praises.
“While not as juniper forward as more traditional gins, it includes yerba mate, eucalyptus, and peppermint as some of its botanicals to give it a unique flavor profile,” he said. “Apostoles also has a great weight and texture to it—making it a good option for stirring up a more herbaceous take on a martini—but [it’s] also bold enough to stand out on its own in a cocktail, especially if you’re using mint, cucumber, or thyme.”
- Unique regional palate
- Less juniper-forward
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin
Finding a good, botanical-heavy Irish gin doesn’t have to be as difficult as finding, say, an elusive jackalope like the one pictured on this bottle of Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin.
Though the name may suggest otherwise, there’s no gunpowder in this bottle: Drumshanbo distills their gin with gunpowder green tea, which means each leaf has been rolled into a tiny round pellet that looks similar to, you guessed it, gunpowder. The result is a well-balanced, citrus-forward gin that—although botanical-heavy and one-note—is sure to please contemporary gin lovers.
- Well-balanced contemporary gin
- Herbaceous and citrusy
- Slightly one-note
Malfy Rosa Gin
Move over, Molly Ringwald: Malfy Rosa gives a whole new meaning to “pretty in pink.” Distilled with Sicilian pink grapefruit peels and sweetened with a rhubarb distillate, this northern Italian gin’s bright pink hue and chic bottle will make it a standout on your bar cart.
But there’s more than just beauty to this blushing beverage—Delish’s Julia Smith loves the versatility of this liquor, which can be sipped on the rocks or mixed into a summer cocktail.
“Malfy Rosa Gin has botanicals and the bitter-sweet grapefruit flavors in one bottle, so [it’s] more drinkable,” she said. “It’s perfect in a grapefruit crush.”
- Versatile and drinkable
- Beautiful, trendy look
- Very citrus-forward
Koval Dry Gin
At first sniff, the earthy scent of woodland spices just might make tasters forget that Koval Dry Gin was distilled in Chicago and not a wildflower-filled meadow.
Tasters will note a round mouthfeel and hints of juniper, fresh pine, and florals like lavender. Smith ranks this gin in her “top three,” noting that “it’s woman-owned and gets great reviews.”
- Good mouthfeel
This London dry gin may only have seven botanicals, but it sure knows how to use them. Well-suited for beginners or tasters who just want to dip their toes into the contemporary side of the gin pool, Bloom offers a flowery, sweet, and well-balanced palate with a long, peppery finish.
Whether drunk straight or in a cocktail, fans of more modern brands are sure to be impressed by this bold, luxurious gin.
- Bold and contemporary
- Beautifully designed bottle
- For non-traditionalists or beginners
Koval Barreled Gin
Koval Barreled Gin follows the same recipe as Koval Dry Gin, but a six-month-long maturation in Koval’s whiskey barrels gives it a sweeter kick. Drawing inspiration from dark liquor, the additional layers of butterscotch, citrus, and spice make it a perfect option for putting a gin-focused spin classic cocktails like an old fashioned.
Though some Flaviar reviewers question if it strays too far from traditional gin—“It’s gin, and yet it’s not”—we’ll let you be the judge of that.
- Great for whiskey lovers
- Unique distillation process
- Not for traditionalists
Plymouth Gin Navy Strength
As the name implies, Plymouth Navy Strength has a long association with the British Royal Navy. For nearly 200 years, Her Majesty’s Naval Fleet was sustained by this 57 percent A.B.V. gin, to the point that no ship dared leave port without an ample supply.
Perfect for bold cocktails or taking the edge off after a long day, Flaviar reviewers call this citrus-heavy bottle the “best gin to date,” “super smooth,” and “easily the best gin I have ever had.”
Though the strong alcohol content brings out different notes in this liquor, it may be just a tad too intense for some drinkers.
- High ABV
- Features different notes
- Very intense
- Not for beginners
Empress 1908 Original Indigo Gin
For a breathtaking twist on a classic gin and tonic, Senior Food Producer June Xie recommends the earthy and contemporary Empress 1908 Original Indigo Gin, which is named for and inspired by the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. The vivid indigo hue of this Canadian spirit is achieved by infusing it with butterfly pea blossom, which magically changes to a rich purple when exposed to acidic ingredients like tonic water.
The team behind Empress 1908 sought a balanced citrus-and-spice palate that flexes plenty of juniper. Take note, though: If you care more about flavor than novelty, you can find better balanced (albeit less colorful) gins for the same price.
- Bright and colorful
- Fun party trick
- Priced for novelty
St. George Terroir Gin
Aptly named, it doesn’t get more woodsy than St. George Terroir, which Assistant Food Editor Justin Sullivan, lists as “a favorite of mine” for its classic ingredients of fir, pine, and sage. These thick, rich flavors and minty, ever-so-slightly spicy finish make St. George Terroir a perfect choice for a rosemary gin fizz. (Or try it out in an equally bubbly French 75.)
- Great traditional gin
Beefeater London Dry Gin
Distilled in the heart of London using the same recipe since 1863, Beefeater’s London Dry Gin is a classic that stands the test of time. With over 200 ratings on Flaviar, this bottle is considered the gold-standard (or at least a good baseline) for most gin drinkers.
Beefeater’s juniper-heavy flavor and medium finish make it better for mixing into classic drinks like a martini than sipping it neat, but it’s still a worthy addition to your at-home bar.
- Straightforward taste
- Great with mixers
- Unremarkable flavor profile
- Don’t drink it straight
St. George Botanivore Gin
Another favorite of Battles’s, St. George Botanivore “is super versatile and perfect for negronis,” as well as other traditional, gin-based drinks, like “gin and tonics or martinis.” (Or, for a refreshing twist, try a frozen negroni!)
This contemporary style gin features “unique floral and herbal notes from 19 different botanicals used during the distillation process,” which Battles says results in a “clean and well-balanced” flavor. It may not be as big on the juniper notes beloved by classic gin fans, but we’re still impressed.
- Boasts 19 botanicals
- Not very juniper-forward