Gin is a spirit as diverse as it is unique, tracing its roots back to the Dutch jenevers of the 17th century. Since that time, numerous styles and types of gin have emerged, from cask-aged expressions to London dry. However, there is one thing they all have in common… They all taste predominantly of juniper. That’s what makes it gin! In fact, the word ‘gin’, derived from “‘jenever’, ultimately comes from the French word ‘genièvre’, meaning (you guessed it) juniper.

This powdery-blue berry (it’s actually not technically a berry, it’s like a pine cone) is not just a flavour enhancer, it is the very soul of gin, imparting a complex, tangy, herbal, and sometimes citrusy profile. It’s incredibly versatile, too. Drink it neat with ice. Pop it in a G&T. Mix a fabulous Dry Martini. Or, get really creative, and make one of the hundreds of classic drinks with gin at its heart. These include legendary pours like the Clover Club, the Singapore Sling and the Negroni.

Beefeater Distillery in Kennington, South London

Beefeater Distillery in Kennington, South London

Styles of gin

Other than price, the first consideration is style. There are multiple styles and types of gin. And, each has its own unique history, purpose, and flavour. Before we get started, let’s take a quick tour and better acquaint ourselves with the various styles of gin.

London Dry Gin

This is the quintessential gin. The gin for all seasons, if you will. It’s a timeless classic and the first choice for a Gin and Tonic. And, we’ll have you know, despite its name, London Dry Gin transcends geographical boundaries, with exquisite varieties available globally but it has its roots in 19th century London. It came about due to improvements in distillation, namely the invention of the Coffey still, which enabled a high strength alcohol to be distilled cheaply and efficiently. The style is characterised by a clean, crisp, tangy profile, with plenty of pine-like juniper notes. 

Navy strength gin

Navy strength gin harks back to a test the Royal Navy did to make sure they were getting proper strength spirits. The spirit (usually rum) would be mixed with gunpowder and a match put to it. If it failed to ignite then it had been watered down. But if it lit, then it was declared 100% proof, in modern parlance this is 57.15% ABV. This spirit would then be diluted to 54.5% ABV. So technically ‘Navy strength’ is 54.5% ABV rather than 57.15 ABV though you often see both alcohol levels designated as such. 

Flavoured gins

Flavoured gin has something added to it, usually fruit, post-distillation. They are often sweetened with sugar too. These are now a huge category with distilleries releasing new and exciting flavours the whole time. Popular flavoured gins include Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla which is made with bittersweet Spanish oranges.

Pink gin

Originally pink gin was a kind of cocktail made by adding a few dashes of Angostura bitters to a dry gin but today it also refers to a type of flavoured gin. These involve steeping a dry distilled gin with fruit such as raspberries, strawberries and cranberries to give it a pretty pink colour and fruity flavour. Or with cheaper brands you might get a similar effect with food colouring, fruit flavour and sugar. 

Sloe gin

The most famous gin liqueur is sloe gin which is made by steeping gin with sloes and, usually, sugar for months and sometimes years. Sloes, also known as blackthorn, are a kind of wild plum whose season takes place in northern Europe in November and December. It’s a popular kind of liqueur to make at home though there are some very good commercial versions available.

 Old Tom gin

Old Tom is a sweet-tasting style of gin that was popular in the 19th century but was gradually pushed out by the popularity of London Dry Gin and almost died out. It would have been made with a much heavier level of botanicals as the base spirit would have been more strongly flavoured. Old Tom gin was often sweetened before serving but it didn’t always have sugar added. Nowadays it’s a style that’s undergoing a renaissance and it’s essential for old school cocktails like the Martinez. Some brands get their richness and perceived sweetness from botanicals whereas others are sweetened with sugar as well. 

Plymouth Gin

Plymouth Gin is a style of gin made by only one distillery, the aptly-named Plymouth Gin Distillery in the south west of England where it has been made since 1793. It was the only English gin to have its own geographical indication with the European Union but the brand’s owner Pernod Ricard decided not to renew the GI in 2015. 

Cask-aged gin

Cask-aged gin is not a new thing. In the past gin would have often been transported and stored in oak barrels so it would often pick up flavours from the wood. For much of the 20th century both Beefeater and Booth’s offered oaked gins. The style disappeared for a while but now it is firmly back with producers utilising ex-bourbon casks, wine barrels and sherry butts to age their gins in. 

Choosing a gin by price

With all those uses and all those styles, we’ve put together a little guide to help you choose the right gin for you. And, one that matches your budget. As with all things boozy, price doesn’t necessarily equal quality. There are some fabulous bargains to be had. It also depends on what you want the gin for. A heavily flavoured cocktail might call for a simpler, less-premium spirit. Additionally, for those who sip gin neat or prefer a very dry Dry Martini, a really complex, unique cask-aged gin might be just what you want.

Affordable Picks

These budget-friendly spirits punch well above their weight. They are also a testament to the skill and creativity of distillers who manage to capture the essence of premium gin at a more approachable price point. Their versatility makes them perfect for both classic and experimental cocktail creations, allowing both seasoned connoisseurs and curious beginners to explore the vast landscape of gin flavours without financial constraint.

This gin selection showcases a wide array of botanical ingredients, from the traditional juniper and citrus peels to more adventurous herbs and spices. This variety ensures that each gin has a unique profile, suitable for a range of uses. Whether it’s the base for a refreshing Gin and Tonic, the heart of a rich Negroni, or sipped neat to appreciate its subtle nuances, these gins are well and truly up to the task.

Bombay Sapphire

Bombay Sapphire English Estate

Tanqueray London Dry Gin

Gordon’s Sloe Gin

Beefeater London Dry Gin

Puerto de Indias Strawberry Gin


What sets these mid-range gems apart is the remarkable balance of complexity and accessibility. These boast a more refined botanical profile, showcasing the wonderfully harmonious blend of traditional juniper with an inventive array of herbs, spices, and citrus. This intricate botanical mix not only deepens the flavour but also adds a layer of sophistication to the gin, making it an excellent choice for both sipping neat as well as for crafting more nuanced cocktails.

The complexity here makes them superb for more intricate cocktails like the Martini or the Aviation, where their nuanced profiles can elevate the drinks to a new level. For the home bartender, these offer the perfect balance of quality and price, allowing for an indulgent experience without breaking the bank.

Jaffa Cake Gin

Jaffa Cake Gin

Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla

Roku Japanese Craft Gin

Elephant Dry Gin

High end

The elite. The best of the best… We are entering the upper echelons of the spirit world (and by that, we mean alcoholic spirits, not the realm of ghosts and the paranormal). These are standout gins thanks to a heady blend of craftsmanship, heritage, and innovation.  

These high-end gins are often the product of small-batch production, where each step of the process is carefully monitored and refined. The selection of botanicals in these gins is not merely about flavour, but about sourcing the finest, and often rarest or hand-harvested ingredients. These botanicals can range from exotic fruits and rare spices to locally-foraged herbs, each contributing to a unique and complex flavour profile that cannot be replicated.

The distillation process for these gins is equally bespoke, with many premium distillers using traditional methods such as copper pot stills. This time-honoured technique allows for a slower, more controlled distillation, capturing the essence of each botanical. Some high-end gins also employ multiple distillation stages or use unique methods like vapour infusion to extract the purest flavours.

Premium gins are best appreciated in ways that highlight their distinctive characteristics. While they can certainly elevate any cocktail, they truly shine when consumed in a manner that allows their complex profiles to be savoured, such as sipped neat or with simple mixers. 

Procera Dry Martini

Procera Gin Blue Dot 2021 Vintage

Blackeye Gin

Bathtub Gin

Lind & Lime Gin

How we picked these gins 

In selecting the more wallet-friendly gins, the emphasis was on uncovering the spirits which defied their price tag, offering depth and complexity at affordable prices. These gins needed to be more than just economical; they had to stand out for their flavour and versatility.

For the mid-range category, I have highlighted gins that offer a step up in refinement and sophistication. These selections were chosen for their ability to provide a more intricate, nuanced tasting experience, suitable both for sipping neat and for elevating cocktails.

When it came to the high-end, premium segment, the focus shifted to craftsmanship and uniqueness. It was all about the artisanal methods, rare ingredients, and innovative distillation techniques. These gins were chosen not just for their exceptional taste profiles but also for their embodiment of the art and tradition of gin-making.

If you want to know more, read our Gin Guide.