Foods

Not your average G&T: The best flavoured tipples to mix it up


Fact: all gins are flavoured. Every single one that passes your lips, by law, needs to be flavoured with juniper – that’s what makes a gin a gin. A host of other botanicals, typically citrussy (like lemon or orange peel) and earthy (such as coriander and angelica), join the party, to make the balanced, complex spirit that you know and love.

So, what exactly is a “flavoured gin”? There is no one official definition. But basically, we’re talking about gins that have, in addition to legally defined juniper, another predominant flavour – whether that’s a fruit, a spice or something else entirely. And if you’ve wandered down any spirits aisles recently, you’ll know there’s a lot of them out there. Strawberry gins. Chocolate gins. Rose gins. Even gins flavoured with seaweed, coffee or wine. With so much to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. But that’s where we come in – we’ve done the hard tasting work for you, and put together this list of our favourite flavoured gins.

When choosing our best flavoured gins, we considered spirits of all character profiles and price points. With a couple of caveats. First, while we didn’t specifically rule out gins that add flavourings post-distillation, we did only test spirits that came in over 37.5 per cent – so we haven’t included gin liqueurs or sloe gins on the lower end of the alcohol spectrum, which tend to come in closer to 20-30 per cent ABV.

Second, to help you find the best flavoured gin for your own tastes, we only included gins with clearly defined, recognisable flavour profiles. Not ones that mixed loads of unique botanicals from around the world for an overall effect (for example, generic spiced gins).

Finally, we haven’t included pink gins – we’ve written about our favourites before, and given that there are so many out there, they really are their own separate category. Yellow, orange, purple and blue-tinted gins were all fair game, though, along with their various quirky flavour profiles.

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How we tested

To choose our best flavoured gins, we tasted more than double that number – scoring each one on overall quality, value and how true it was to its taste description (for example, if it says lavender on the bottle, it should smell and taste like lavender). Each gin was sampled neat before being mixed with tonic and, where relevant, shaken or stirred into the cocktail serve as we’ve suggested.

The best flavoured gins for 2021 are:

Arber pineapple gin

Best: Overall

Rating: 9.5/10

As soon as we nosed this reasonably priced gin, we felt transported to a tropical isle of swaying palms, surf-lapped beaches and bottomless pina coladas – no mean feat given we were tasting it on a rainy London Tuesday. It’s not an easy thing making a flavoured gin that is both so evocative and so grown up, and we probably don’t need to tell you that many tropically themed ones often end up tasting overly sweet. Not Arber Pineapple. Neither sickly nor confected, it feels, in fact, like a proper gin that’s gone on holiday to the Caribbean.

We put its success down to the fact that those heady tropical notes of pineapple and mango – infused into the gin post-distillation – are still nicely balanced with classic London Dry botanicals such as liquorice, angelica, cassia and, of course, juniper. But don’t take our word for it. Arber Pineapple also bagged the top prize for Best Flavoured Gin at the Gin Guide Awards 2021, so we’re not its only fans.

Cambridge Distillery truffle gin

Best: Splurge

Rating: 9/10

Is there anything more extra than a gin made with distilled truffles? You may (rightly) be sceptical, but this gin isn’t a gimmick. It’s expertly made by pro distiller William Lowe at Cambridge Gin using actual white truffle from Alba, in Italy’s Piedmont. He captures the fragrant character of the precious fungi using painstaking distillation techniques – not cheap added flavourings – so while there’s no denying that this bottle is an investment, if you are a big fan of truffles it’s worth the outlay.

Saying that, don’t just buy this to splash into your Wednesday night G&Ts. We’d serve it in a bone-dry martini or on the rocks, so you can let the spirit’s delicate balance between truffles and juniper shine. We’d also pair it with food, because this gin is bold enough to take it. At the very least some cheese straws would be a winner, but try truffley pasta or lobster thermidor for no-holds-barred indulgence.

Silent Pool rare citrus

Best: Citrus

Rating: 8.5/10

There are a lot of citrus gins out there. But from the sea of grapefruit, lemon and lime bottlings, this unique bottling from Silent Pool really shone. To say it’s interesting is an understatement: it combines the flavours and aromas of citrus fruits we’d never even heard of, let alone tasted. Buddha’s hand, natsu dai dai and hirado buntan – all unique fruits hailing from Asia – combine with Seville orange (ok, we know that one) to create an elegant and distinct gin with an almost floral character. Serve this up in a G&T with a light Indian tonic and a twist of your favourite fresh citrus fruit, and you’ll be good to go. Or try it in a negroni. That citrussy profile pairs with the bittersweet cocktail perfectly.

Da Mhile organic seaweed gin

Best: For mixing

Rating: 8/10

A gin that has been made with seaweed might not sound like your next go-to, but hear us out. This gently flavoured bottle doesn’t taste weird and wacky – rather clean, green and savoury, like the most refreshing bits of the sea. But in any case, it’s not really about drinking this gin on its own. Rather Da Mhile seaweed provides exactly the kind of base layer umami hit that is sublime in a martini, or other gin cocktails that need depth of flavour. Even a red snapper – that is, a bloody mary that’s been made with gin.

The gin is made on a family-run farm shop and distillery in Wales with organic ingredients, in a still that’s been powered by wood felled on their land. For each tree cut, a new one is planted, supporting an environmentally aware cycle of gin-making. The gin is certified by the Soil Association, too.

Masons of Yorkshire dry yorkshire gin tea edition

Best: For tea drinkers

Rating: 8.5/10

Yorkshire and tea just go together, right? Well, that’s the thinking at Hambleton-based distillery Masons, where it’s made a rather unusual tea edition of its classic dry Yorkshire gin. It’s got all those comforting aromas of a cuppa – think black tea, orange and spice – mingled in with a juniper backbone to create a sophisticated, smart pour.

Creative, distinct and crystal clear, this tea-flavoured tipple is also complex enough to keep you interested all the way to the bottom of the bottle. Especially when you serve it up in a G&T with a twist of lemon, letting the gentle fizz of Indian tonic water lengthen out all those botanicals. Little wonder that it’s racked up so many spirits industry gold medals.

Jaffa Cake gin

Best: For chocolate-orange fans

Rating: 8.5/10

Put simply, this gin will either be one for you, or it won’t. And it all comes down to whether you’re a fan of that cupboard staple, the Jaffa Cake. Because this gin doesn’t taste “kind of” like the popular biscuit-cake. It’s made from distilling actual, real-life Jaffa Cakes, along with fresh orange and cocoa powder, into what can only be described as a JC in a glass.

Putting aside whether or not you actually like chocolate-orange, this is actually a very well-made flavoured gin. The additional of real Jaffa Cakes does, in fact, seem to add complexity – notes of almond and vanilla (from the biscuit-cake) as well as a whiff of marmalade. And while this is a flavoured gin for a slightly sweeter tooth, it’s really not too sweet at all. A balanced juniper note stands up to the fruit, mingling with the bitter chocolate right to the finish. It’ll do quite nicely chilled right down and poured over an ice cube as an after-dinner treat. Just be sure to hide it from the kids.

Porter’s orchard gin

Best: Orchard fruit

Rating: 8.5/10

Pop the cork on this bottle and you’ll be whisked away to a countryside orchard at harvest time – juicy notes of ripe apple and pear jump to greet you at first sniff. It’s rare to find flavours that feel this bright and fresh in flavoured gins, but they’re a result of Porter’s careful way of doing things. By opting for a cold distillation process, which uses a vacuum still to preserve delicate flavours that would otherwise be “cooked” by the traditional distillation process, the gin legitimately smells and tastes like orchard fruit.

Porter’s, which is based in Aberdeen, says that this gin is a homage to a blanc des blanc Champagne with its golden hue, and a mix of apple, butter and biscuit tasting notes. We can see what they mean. But this also reminds us of a deliciously clean, fresh, juniper-led take on a craft cider. Try it, as Porter’s suggests, in a French 75 (gin and Champagne, naturally) or a simple gin fizz.

Ophir black lemon

Best: Value

Rating: 8.5/10

If you’ve never come across a loomi, or black lemon – technically, in fact, a dried lime – then you should know they are an essential element in Persian cuisine, adding an intense burst of sour citrus flavour to stews and spice rubs. And, they’re the star of Ophir’s black lemon.

A generously fruity and spiced bottling, made in the London Dry style, the gin also stars timut pepper, a Nepalese spice that has intense citrussy notes. So, with every sip of this gin – which we like best served with Indian tonic in a classic G&T – expect with a burst of light citrus fruit and a gentle warm undertone of pepper.

At a rather remarkably affordable £23 per 70cl – including that lovely little tassel wrapped around the bottle’s neck – this is one great-value pick. Pour it out liberally at parties, sit back, and wait for the guest compliments to roll in.

Herno pink btl gin

Best: Pink gin

Rating: 8/10

While we chose to exclude pink gins from our list of best flavoured gins – we’ve already got a long list of favourites here – we made an exception for Swedish distiller Herno’s version. Or rather, we haven’t: because it isn’t actually pink. Rather, this “pink” gin is made by distilling popular pink gin botanicals – strawberries and rose petals – along with six classic ones to create a gin that subtly smells and tastes, but doesn’t look, rosy-hued.

It’s all, of course, a bit of a joke Hernö’s part. Except for the gin itself, which is rightly serious. Pretty floral and red fruit notes intermingle with a crack of juniper and a tickle of black pepper, resulting in a pour that even the pink gin adverse (you know who you are) will enjoy. If you thought that flavoured gins couldn’t be sophisticated, this is one to change your mind.

East London kew gin

Best: Botanical

Rating: 8.5/10

You have to admit it’s a lovely story. The distillers at hip East London Liquor Co. has partnered with the serene Kew Gardens to produce a gin that’s a homage to the world’s pollinators, made partly from botanicals harvested on the garden’s rambling grounds. From piney Douglas Fir and fragrant lavender (both sourced from Kew) to juicy orange and the warming notes of liquorice and fennel seed, it’s basically a walk through the world’s finest botanical gardens with every sip. And buying a bottle means you’ll be supporting a charity that was hit by the pandemic.

Now, put the lovely story aside. It’s still a great gin. Bursting with summery flavours, it’s evocative of an English garden in the height of flowering. We especially love those fennel notes, which give your G&T a delicious herbal character to offset the floral lavender. The packaging is uplifting, too – it comes in a cheery gift box emblazoned with blooms, butterflies and bugs.

Sipsmith sipspresso coffee gin

Best: For after-dinner drinking

Rating: 9/10

At the end of a dinner party, you could serve up coffees – or you could serve up this smooth, full-bodied sipping gin, distilled with Brazilian and Rwandan coffee beans, cinnamon and fresh vanilla. It’s the latest release from Sipsmith, a distillery with a reputation for both creativity and quality. And it doesn’t disappoint: it really does taste of quality coffee, in cool, crystal clear form.

That creamy, rich texture makes for a darn fine martini – especially if you’ve let the bottle chill in the freezer for a few hours. But it also makes a great addition to an espresso martini with actual coffee, or can be drunk neat with a twist of orange.  Sipspresso is technically a limited edition, but given it’s this tasty, we hope it’ll be around to stay.

Léoube mediterranean gin

Best: Mediterranean

Rating: 8/10

We love a Mediterranean-style gin – those transportive aromas of garrigue herbs and sun-ripened citrus always feel like a holiday in a glass. And this recent launch from winery Chateau Léoube, west of St Tropez, is our favourite du jour. It’s pricey, yes. But it’s sophisticated too. Distilled with black olives from the winery’s own groves, it has a subtle dark kick – a welcome contrast to the rosemary, orange and fennel flavours. A floral note of almond wafts in there too, along with a fruitiness from the grape spirit base (also made by Château Léoube). Obviously the best way to drink this would be sprawled out in a Provençal garden, sporting an oversized straw hat and watching the waves of the Mediterranean Sea roll in. But in the absence of that? Drink it with Indian tonic and a sprig of rosemary.

Tarquin’s yuzu and lime

Best: For refreshing drinking

Rating: 8.5/10

Zesty, clean and bursting with flavour – this limited edition bottling from Cornish distiller Tarquin’s packs in the distinct zingy taste of Japanese yuzu, a citrus fruit that sits somewhere between a lemon, lime and grapefruit in profile. And as with all of Tarquin’s tasty gins, it just goes to show that you don’t need to make things complicated, you just need to make ‘em delicious. Splash in a glass with a little bit of soda, and you have a crisp, refreshing and light pour that is perfect for sipping with sushi or as an aperitif before a Japanese-style feast (katsu curry, anyone?).

Four Pillars bloody shiraz

Best: For red wine lovers

Score: 9/10

It might look like sloe gin, but it isn’t. This Aussie-made gin has been steeped with ripe Shiraz grapes – harvested from the surrounding Yarra Valley – for two months, giving it that characteristic purple-red hue. And, a seriously distinct flavour. Spiced aromas – almost mulled wine-like – graduate to richly red fruity, peppery and er, Shiraz-y character on the palate. And, because there’s no added sugar (just the juice from those grapes) it’s pleasantly sweet without tasting the slightest bit cloying.

This rich, brooding gin makes a darn fine spiced negroni, but also pairs dreamily with lemon – it’s a natural in a Tom collins or just served simply with lemonade. But try not to drain your bottle too quickly. Thanks to the wine inside, unlike most spirits this one continues to change as it ages in bottle. The lighter red fruit flavours develop earth and spice notes as time goes on, making it more and more interesting to drink.

G’Vine floraison gin

Best: For white wine fans

Rating: 8/10

If you are only beginning to dip your toe into flavoured gins, G’Vine floraison is an ace place to start. In fact, it’s so subtle, that some might say it’s hardly flavoured at all. But that’s kind of the point; this isn’t meant to be a juniper bomb. Made in Cognac from a base of ugni blanc grapes – not grain, as typically used for gin – and distilled with fragrant vine flower, it’s a gin that celebrates all things grape.

Floral, soft and smooth, this delicately perfumed gin is a sure-fire winner for white wine drinkers – try it with soda in a spritz – or even for gin newbies who find traditional London drys or juniper-forward tipples too rich or piney. Vodka drinkers will love it too, whether in a martini or used as a twist in classic fruity pours such as a gimlet or appletini.

The verdict: Flavoured gins

The truth is, the best flavoured gin for you will depend on what else you like to eat and drink. If you love Jaffa Cakes, the Jaffa Cake gin will be your 10/10 – if you prefer floral, you’ll love Herno’s pink. But if we had to pick one winner? When it comes to balancing distinct flavour, great taste and solid value, we’re awarding our top prize to Arber’s pineapple gin.

For an all-around crowd-pleaser at a stellar price point, we’d suggest Ophir gin. All that the Persian black lime and timut pepper character for just £23 feels a bit of a steal.

Finally, for something both quirky and delicious, Four Pillars bloody shiraz gin is a must-try. We love how it changes as it ages in bottle – it’s like a two-for-one drinking experience.

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.


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