Tired of typical tipples? This summer, make sure your new drink is a gin that stands out! We’re shining a light on ten of the most weird and wonderful gins that have the most intriguing ingredients…
The gin bubble simply refuses to burst. As more and more expressions hit shelves, back bars and home drinks cabinets, gin brands are all over the world need a way to stand out. What’s an enterprising, discerning distiller or rectifier to do? Look to the botanicals, of course!
By packing a peculiar botanical, the following gins have carved a singular path. Whether these additions are a reflection of the producer’s local area, or the result of radical experimentation, each and every one has found that distinctive can be delicious.
Usually, when somebody goes backpacking around Southeast Asia you’re laboured with tedious tales about how they ‘found themselves’ and ‘saw a different side to the world’ (without remembering you have them on Instagram and can see they spent the entire time either drinking or hungover, on a beach). Not the brilliant bunch who made Tarsier Gin. They put their travels to good use and created a citrus-forward gin! Alongside seven traditional gin botanicals, Tarsier Gin features the addition of the exotic calamansi, Kampot pepper, Thai sweet basil and galangal. Now there are some unusual botanicals!
Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gin
Unexpected botanicals don’t have to be exotic. A decidedly local ingredient makes this Welsh gin stand out – seaweed! The delightful Dà Mhìle Distillery infused the marine algae, sourced from the Celtic coast, with its small-batch gin for three weeks. The result is a seaside sensation that pairs brilliantly with seafood and makes a mean Martini. Coastal cocktails anyone?
Ki No Bi Gin
Not many gins can boast a botanical list that includes the likes of yuzu, hinoki wood chips, bamboo leaves, green sansho and gyokuro tea – but Ki No Bi Gin can! The first release from the Kyoto Distillery was been made using a rice spirit base and a selection of locally-sourced ingredients, which were split into six distinct flavour groups: Base, Citrus, Tea, Spice, Fruity & Floral and Herbal. Each group was then distilled individually before being blended together. Unconventional? Yes. Delicious? Definitely.
1897 Quinine Gin
A superb gin helping a superb cause, 1897 Quinine Gin features an unusual botanical for a very good reason. The ingredient in question – cinchona bark – is the natural and traditional source of quinine, a medication used to treat malaria and babesiosis. Alongside cold-distilled fresh lemon and grapefruit peels, the addition of cinchona bark not only makes 1897 Quinine very tasty but also highlights the gin’s important message. 1897 Quinine Gin supports Malaria No More UK and over 50% of the producer’s profit (at least £5 per bottle sold) will be donated to the charity. Great work all around – with a distinctive botanical to boot!
Mr Kamm’s Gin
This next product proves that inspiration for a great gin can come from anywhere. Mr. Kamm’s Gin is from Kamm & Sons, creator of Kamm & Sons British Aperitif. The 45-botanical recipe of the apéritif, which includes the likes of hibiscus, apricot kernel, ginseng, blue butterfly pea and citra hops alongside classic ingredients such as fresh grapefruit, orange and lemon peels, was used a basis for this gin, with some minor tweaks. An excellent cocktail companion, there’s plenty that’s individual about Mr. Kamm’s Gin, and even more to like.
Copperhead Gin – The Gibson Edition
This terrific tipple is probably best described as a savoury gin. That’s enough to make Copperhead Gin – The Gibson Edition notable on its own, but there’s more. The collaboration from head bartender at The Gibson, Marian Beke, and Copperhead features all five botanicals from Copperhead’s core gin – juniper, coriander seed, cardamom, angelica and orange peel – as well as 14 additional botanicals from Beke. Most of these are spices and some are pickled, which is unusual enough, but the most interesting aspect of this gin was the inclusion of an extra ingredient: eight-year-old jenever. Not wanting to use sugar as a sweetener to keep the gin from moving into Old Tom territory, the jenever adds an extra dimension to an already pretty singular spirit.
Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin
Created by Joanne Moore, Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin kinda gives away what striking botanicals it has in its title. The recipe for this London dry gin was chosen to emulate the traditional spice route that led back to the UK. While the botanicals on their own are not particularly unusual, it is the combination of interesting ingredients that makes this product stand out. There’s Malaysian cubeb, Indian black pepper, cardamom and ginger, Moroccan coriander seed, Italian juniper, Spanish bitter oranges and angelica from Germany. Exotic and exceptional!
Elephant Aged Gin
The fab folks at Elephant Gin have been boosting conservation efforts for Africa’s large and loveable since 2013 with sales of its excellent expressions, like Elephant London Dry Gin and this aged edition. While there are some classic ingredients among the 14 botanicals used in both gins, there’s also a whole bunch of atypical additions, such as baobab fruit, buchu plant (similar to blackcurrant), African wormwood, lion’s tail (a broadleaf evergreen large shrub) and devil’s claw (a plant that bears distinctive, hooked fruit). Elephant Aged Gin was rested in a combination of new and aged wood over a period of a year after distillation to bring together unusual botanicals and an experimental process. The result? A wonderful gin that’s as good as the cause it supports.
Sharish Blue Magic Gin
Sharish Blue Magic Gin is named for its magnificent colour, the secret of which comes an unusual botanical. Extracts of a flower known as blue pea are what makes this Portuguese gin from the Sharish range stand out. Things get even funkier when you mix the gin with tonic: it turns pink! All thanks to that one special botanical…
Yuletide Gin (That Boutique-y Gin Company)
Now is the time of year when the industry starts to throw its ‘Christmas in July’ events as press and retail types prepare well in advance for the most hectic time of year. Not only are these events a great way to throw your body clock out of the window and celebrate some exciting new expressions, but it’s the perfect excuse to include this little beauty in this list. The folks at That Boutique-y Gin Company got seriously seasonal when they crafted this gin and somehow found room for gold, frankincense, myrrh, an entire gingerbread house and Christmas tree needles alongside more traditional winter botanicals like nutmeg and clove. The gold is in flake-form, so if you shake the bottle this delight doubles as a boozy snow globe! Think of it as your reward for being good this year (well, the first half anyway…).
And with that, our celebration of unusual botanical-based gins comes to an end. You can sample the special spirits yourselves by picking up a bottle or, if you’re struggling to decide which should be your go-to-gin, you can always assemble the most tempting in a Build Your Own Tasting Set!
Have another unusual favourite that we’ve missed off the list? Let us know in the comments below!