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The Rise of Craft Gin

Distilling their way to the top – the five artisanal gins to sip right now

Until recently, the enjoyment of a gin-based cocktail meant drinking London Dry – the dominant style of the genre that is marked by the prominent juniper berry flavour. But now, premium craft gins are on the rise.


1. South Premium Gin. After a chance encounter in a London bar, in which he learned of the proclivity for gin martinis, Geoff Ross, founder of 42 Below Distilleries, returned to his New Zealand home determined to create a truly Kiwi version of the popular spirit. Using indigenous manuka berries and kawakawa leaves, Ross has crafted a gin that not only represents his native country, but also is a delicious deviation from those available on the market.


2. Nolet's Silver Gin. At first glance, it seems a bit odd that the family responsible for the immensely popular Ketel One Vodka would be considered a craft spirits maker. Yet the success they enjoyed allowed the family to launch smaller projects such as this one. While the production template uses traditional botanicals, the Nolet Silver Gin also relies on Turkish roses, raspberries and peaches to obtain its unique style.


3. Victoria Gin. To communicate their approach to making gin, Victoria Spirits has borrowed a portrait of a youthful Queen Victoria to adorn their label and chosen a bottle shape that harkens back to the days in which gin was used more for its medicinal properties than intoxicating ones. The age of the former British queen underscores the approach, with Victoria Spirits altering the gin process with the addition of organic and wild-gathered botanicals such as orris root and cinnamon bark.


4. Sipsmith London Dry Gin. In the historical heart of gin production, London has recently welcomed a new 300L copper still, not seen for nearly 200 years. The Sipsmith Distillery is the proud owner of this German-manufactured tool and is intent on leading the new wave of craft spirits in the country. In addition to putting precedence on the infrastructure of making gin, Sipsmith travels the world to source the best botanicals such as Macedonian Juniper berries, Bulgarian coriander seed and Chinese cassia bark.


5. Leopold's American Small Batch Gin. In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, Todd and Scott Leopold are helping to shape the craft spirits market in the United States. The brothers produce a number of different spirits, including several whiskies, vodka and even absinthe. While all of their offerings undoubtedly receive special attention, the effort taken to produce the Small Batch Gin is impressive. Not only do the brothers distill each botanical separately, but they also distill fermented wheat, potato and barley into a blended base spirit.

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