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Martini. A glass of dirty martini cocktail with vermouth and olives

As I’ve previously written on these pages, gin is perhaps the most polarizing spirit on the planet, perhaps even more than mezcal and peated whisky. That said, gin has its fair number of fans and for World Gin Day, we’ve got some brands below that should be the center of your celebrations.

Unlike most of these holidays for adult beverages, I was able to nail down the origin of World Gin Day (June 8). Here’s more from the World Gin Day website:

Who is behind World Gin Day?

Hi, that’s me! Emma Stokes aka Gin Monkey!

World Gin Day itself was actually founded by Neil Houston in 2009, a very bright idea to bring his friends together to drink gin in Birmingham! Emma and Neil were already firm gin-friends, and so it made sense to bring the celebrations to London in 2010, involving some of Emma’s friends too, in a lovely little gin bar called Graphic in Soho. Since then the day has grown year on year, reaching an ever bigger audience.

In 2013 Emma formally took charge of the day, due to Neil’s work commitments, and the day has since evolved into a truly global celebration with events running in over 30 countries around the world, reaching over 200 million people on social channels. No really, just check out the stats for past years using the links in the site menu…not too shabby I’m sure you’ll agree.

I’m not shy about my affinity for gin and I feel confident saying that it is indeed my favorite spirit. The issue with gin is that plenty of people are turned off by its botanical flavors and aromas, particularly the London dry style and the juniper that jumps out ahead. Like most vodkas, the majority of quality gins on the market are also unadulterated by coloring and forgo sweeteners and the like.

There are also several flavored gins, barrel-aged gins, Old Tom gins, and more. The possibilities of gin are vast, although I’ll admit to enjoying the London Dry expressions more than most. I’ve even arrived at a space where now I can sip gin neat or on a large rock. The typical flavors most get from gin are either floral, herbal, or a touch of both.

It’s also a refreshing choice for cocktails for classic drinks such as the Gin and Tonic, French 75, Gimlet, and more. You can even get bold sippable cocktails with gin such as the Negroni, Bijou, Corpse Reviver No. 2, and more.

No matter how you enjoy your gin, join me for a pour, and happy World Gin Day to all.

Photo: Getty

Celebrate World Gin Day 2024 With These World-Class Gins  was originally published on cassiuslife.com

1. Bayab

Bayab Source:Bayab

I was recently at Shanklin Hall in Washington, D.C. where the bartender was gracious enough to let me try a sample of Bayab, my first experience with African gin. The baobab fruit is one of the botanicals in the African Classic Dry and it was fantastic on its own. I have to secure a bottle one day.

Learn more here.

2. Citadelle

Citadelle Source:Citadelle

If you’ve been reading these pages a while, you’ve seen me mention the now-defunct gin bar, Wisdom, in the Hill East neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It was there when I first had Citadelle as a part of Wisdom’s gin club. Hailing from France and big on lemon and citrusy notes, it made one of my favorite versions of the Aviation cocktail but is a fantastic pour over ice. It’s not a big botanical bomb but more like a summery sip for all types of activities.

Learn more here.

3. Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin Source:Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

I’m not a seasoned spirits reviewer nor do I have any fancy badges or honorifics (yet). That said, when I get a new bottle in the mail, I always try the spirit neat in one of my fancy glasses. Drumshanbo was not my first time having Irish gin but it was certainly the first time I looked at the glass and bottle after a sip. Juniper is there but so is star anise, lime, and cardamom. No diss to the other gins on this list but this is one of my favorite gins to sip neat.

Learn more here.

4. Filibuster

Filibuster Source:Filibuster

Virginia’s Filibuster is a distillery to watch, especially with its lineup of award-winning whiskies. The company doesn’t do too shabby with gin, and their Dual Cask and Rose offerings are made for G&Ts, a French 75, or something with citrus. Even on the rocks, I was impressed by the relatively low number of botanicals yet big flavor compared to other brands.

Learn more here.

5. Edinburgh Gin

Edinburgh Gin Source:Edinburgh Gin

Edinburgh burst onto the scene in 2010 and made waves with its London Dry expression before releasing other flavors and styles. Classic as it comes, the London Dry holds up well in most of the standard gin cocktails, including in a Bee’s Knees. I’m also fond of the brand’s rhubarb and ginger expression, which is great with tonic.

Learn more here.

6. Empress 1908

Empress 1908 Source:Empress 1908

Empress 1908 first landed on my radar via its beautiful Indigo expression, with Black tea as one of the botanicals alongside butterfly pea blossoms. In my opinion, it’s made for mixing not to discredit the juice but to highlight that it makes for photo-ready cocktails on the fly and boosts classics like the Aviation and even a G&T.

Learn more here.

7. Glendalough

Glendalough Source:Glendalough

The wide variety of Irish gins continue to astound me and Glendalough should be counted among those ranks. While some might know the distillery for Irish whiskey, they’ve got a good foothold in the gin space. I’ve tried both the Wild Botanical and Wild Rose expressions, the former being more herbal and slightly spicy while the rose leans into soft floral notes. Depending on what you want, you can have these gins on the rocks and do little else. It’s that good.

Learn more here.

8. Hendrick’s

Hendrick's Source:Hendrick's

No gin roundup I do will go without mentioning Hendrick’s gin, and their standard core bottle remains a staple in my bar cabinet for a simple reason. Infused with cucumber and rose along with traditional botanicals like juniper and the like, this lends this gin to long drinks but it’s a fantastic sipper on the rocks, too. The brand also has a variety of seasonal and limited offerings, all considerably different from each other but with the same ethos of providing curiously made gins for the curious mind.

Learn more here.

9. Las Californias Gin

Las Californias Gin Source:Las Californias Gin

Las California is one of the newer gins I’ve sampled recently. Unlike some of the juniper-forward styles of London Dry and Irish, this is an American-style gin that takes botanicals from California and Mexico inside its Nativo expression.  I have to say this makes an amazing Southside but it is awesome on the rocks. For those who like to savor, some fun things happen when served neat too.

Learn more here.

10. McQueen and the Violet Fog

McQueen and the Violet Fog Source:McQueen and the Violet Fog

I’ve written here previously about McQueen and the Violet Fog and this gin, distilled from sugarcane in Brazil, is shockingly one of the most affordable yet complex gins on the market. Made with 21 botanicals that work in concert instead of clashing, the gin is great as a sipper or mixer. The addition of acai as a botanical is a nice touch.

Learn more here.

11. NOLET’s

NOLET's Source:nolet's

NOLET’s has a storied history that I urge you to read about on their website but I’m more excited to tell you about this fruity, sippable gin that I believe could make converts out of people who don’t like gin. Most times, gin calls for citrus, tonic water, lemonade, or something to cut the botanical notes. You don’t need to do anything with this one, I promise.

Learn more here.

12. Plymouth

Plymouth Source:Plymouth

When I started this column, I was deep into gin and always found myself using Plymouth for cocktails. For this story, I tried Plymouth Original Strength’s neat for the first time. I was expecting another piney juniper bomb but discovered a delightfully floral, refreshing gin instead. Any cocktail you can name, it’ll hold up well. My next goal is to try its “Navy Strength” expression.

Learn more here.

13. Revivalist Garden Gin

Revivalist Garden Gin Source:Revivalist Garden Gin

I haven’t tried this gin yet but I’m fascinated by the brand’s story and approach to craft. It’s the first gin I’ve seen to use ashwagandha as a botanical and I’m curious to try this one. Stay tuned.

Learn more here.

14. The Botanist

The Botanist Source:The Botanist

The Botanist was a favorite pour for me at the aforementioned gin bar Wisdom in D.C. and made a very dry martini with a twist that I would order before a meal and often after one. This is my favorite gin to use for a Gimlet but works well in a Negroni. I’ve just discovered that the company has cask-matured gins that I want to try.

Learn more here.

15. The Old G

The Old G Source:Various

As some readers know, CASSIUS is part of a Black-owned media network so it makes sense to highlight minority and Black-owned brands. You can check out my interview with the founders of The Old G here and trust me when I say this is a bottle you can feel good about gifting or keeping for yourself. It’s a London Dry style so it’s made for sipping neat or on the rocks with a twist and shines in a Martini. 

Learn more here.

16. Tommyrotter

Tommyrotter Source:Tommyrotter

Tommyrotter produces an American and Bourbon Barrel-aged gin and they’re both spectacular as mixers with tonic. The barrel-aged expression made a mean Gin Old Fashioned and surprised me while on the rocks. I need to hang out with Tommyrotter more often.

Learn more here.

17. Tulchan

Tulchan Source:Tulchan

Tulchan is made in Scotland where whisky rules. However, the company created a gin inspired by the London Dry style. Among the typical botanicals are interesting additions like angelica and licorice root. This is a sweeter gin than one would imagine so it’s a good one for a large rock but also in a G&T and Martini. 

Learn more here.

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