10 Best European gins
We've scoured the continent for the most exciting botanicals to breathe a breath of fresh air into your G&T
Although the UK, and particularly London, has a rich history of gin production, some of the earliest reports claim that Holland or Italy could be it’s true birthplace. Spain is also well known to have a thirst for gin which they happily free pour into glorious copa goblets (our favourite glass for gin if truth be told).
Of course, we’re not here to start a gin turf war, but it’s clear that if you’re in the market for trying gins that are a little different, it’s definitely worth casting your net wider than Britain. Packed full of exciting botanicals from across the continent, European gins feature a whole host of ingredients not found in their British equivalent.
“I think a growing interest in both provenance and locality is propelling the popularity of European gins,” says Kristiane Sherry, Master of Malt editor. “Smart distillers will play on both, selecting local botanicals in their production and then championing provenance in their marketing. Consumers like to taste something distinct, and a gin that captures a specific location by offering a genuine point of difference through flavour makes for a compelling offer.”
It’s also worth playing around with serves, reaching for fragrant herbs and ingredients like olives to garnish and using in cocktails to create punchy new twists on old classics. Although don’t be afraid to try it neat, a good quality gin will be smooth as a whistle and just as enjoyable with a chunk of ice as it is with tonic.
The team at food and drink website Crummbs have scoured the continent looking for exciting botanicals to breathe a breath of fresh air into your G&T. Here are their favourites…
(France) Citadelle Gin 70cl 44%: £30.20, Master of Malt
French distiller Alexandre Gabriel found himself with time on his hands during cognacs off season – so the obvious answer was to create a gin. Created in beautiful copper stills, it’s made up of 19 aromatics and botanicals including coriander, orange peel and liquorice which has resulted in it being the most awarded gin in the world. Particularly excellent served alongside a juicy oyster, although if you’re not feeling quite as decadent, ice and a slice will suffice.
Audemus Spirits Pink Pepper Gin 70cl 44%: £40, Waitrose Cellar
This is the marmite of the gin world. You’ll either love or hate the powerful hit of pink peppercorn but we can’t get enough of the savoury spice, complimented with a touch of sweet vanilla and honey. It’s really unlike anything else so would make a great point of difference to your drinks cabinet and is best served simply with tonic to really allow the gin do the talking.
G’Vine Floraison Gin 70cl 40%: £29.79, Drink Supermarket
Traditionally most gins are made with grain but G’Vine do things a little differently and create theirs with Ugni Blanc grape spirit. The botanicals include green cardamom, ginger roots and the vine flower. This hero botanical blossoms just once a year in mid-June and exists for just a few days before maturing into a grape berry. The result is a very elegant and floral-forward gin which works well in a martini.
(Spain) Gin Mare 50cl 42.7%: £28, Marks and Spencer
If one gin sums up the taste of the Mediterranean, it’s Gin Mare. Infused with basil from Italy, thyme from Greece, rosemary from Turkey and citrus fruits from Spain, this pan-Mediterranean gin is calling out to be drunk in the sunshine. A particularly good spirit to pair with food thanks to the savoury pepper finish, forgo lemon for a sprig of rosemary and garish with an olive.
(Italy) Malfy Gin Con Limone 70cl 41%: £25.85, 31 Dover
Malfy Gin takes its name from the Amalfi Coast and the lemons grown there, which are used to make this citrus-packed gin. There’s also a version with sun kissed blood orange and zesty pink grapefruit, all sourced from Italy and produced by the Vergnano family who have been making gin for over 100 years. Keep things simple and team with premium tonic and a slice of lemon – what else?
VII Hills Italian Dry Gin 70cl 43%: £36.72, Master of Malt
If you’re not au fait with your roman numerals, VII is seven and this Italian gin is named as such thanks to its combination of seven botanicals taken from the seven hills on which, according to legend, ancient Rome was built. These include juniper, pomegranate, celery, artichoke, blood orange, rosehip and Roman chamomile which results in an aromatic spirit with citrus and herbal notes. It’s the ideal Italian gin to create the perfect negroni.
(Germany) Elephant London Dry Gin 50cl 45%: £30.75, The Whisky Exchange
Although distilled in Germany, it’s actually the spirit of Africa they hope to capture in this fragrant gin. South African buchu offers a delicious blackcurrant flavour, whilst the African superfood baobab has sharp citrus qualities. The gin was created to support the conservation of African elephants, with 15% of profits from each bottle going to Big Life Foundation and Space for Elephants.
(Netherlands) Rutte Celery Dry Gin 70cl 43%: £35.95, Master of Malt
Rutte have been making their spirits since 1872, using only natural ingredients to create the unique flavours. Although the citrus and juniper is still there, it’s really the celery that grabs your attention here. If you’re a fan of Bloody Marys with your brunch, try switching the standard vodka for this very special gin – it makes for the best Red Snapper we’ve ever tried.
(Belgium) Filliers Dry Gin 28 50cl 46%: £33.95, Master of Malt
Famous for beer and chocolates, Belgium is also the home to the Filliers family who have been producing gin for decades. Using a whopping 28 botanicals on top of the standard juniper, this dry gin includes Belgian hops, allspice and fresh oranges. Created in traditional copper stills in small batches, you should be able to detect cardamom and coriander.
(Finland) Kyrö Distillery Napue Gin 50cl 46.3%: £34.95, Amazon
If you’re looking for a new style of gin to shake up your drinks trolley, this award-winning gin from Finland is a revelation. The rye-based Napue gin boasts locally foraged fresh botanicals, including sea buckthorn, cranberries and birch leaves. Produced in small batches, you’ll detect meadowsweet, citrus, cumin and juniper on the nose, whilst the taste is subtle and leafy with refreshing menthol notes. Enjoy your Napue gin with plenty of ice, a sprig of rosemary, a few cranberries and your favourite tonic water.
The award-winning Citadelle team create gin that we could drink all-day long for any occasion (although that’s probably not advisable). Lending itself to making great cocktails while also being premium enough to sip neat, it’s this versatility that has ensured its place as Indy Best Buy.