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Top gins from the Midlands and further afield - tried and tested

By Kirsten Rawlins | Entertainment | Published: | Last Updated:

Once referred to as 'Mother's Ruin', gin has soared in popularity over the last few years - with more varieties on offer than ever before.

Boodles Mulberry Gin

This surge has also seen a huge rise speakeasies and gin bars, with many opening in the Midlands alone.

With so many gins now on sale, Kirsten Rawlins and Becci Stanley take a look at some of the top gins around:

(We're sure you're aware of this anyway, but the below are for the purchase and consumption over over 18s ONLY)

Cucumber Gin - The English Drinks Company - £5.95 for 5cl, £35 for 70cl - www.englishdrinkscompany.co.uk

5 out of 5

Cucumber Gin

This gin is fresh and delicious, with a wonderful cucumber flavour which shines through with even the most diluted of gin and tonics.

Its delicious taste of cucumber, combined with floral notes of juniper, make this dry gin easily tasty enough to drink on its own - though for me (at 40% ABV) it is far too strong on its own.

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Unlike many gins of the same price bracket, the Cucumber Gin is also incredibly smooth and very moreish, with a perfect balance between dry and sweet flavours.

Absolutely gorgeous - and ideal for summer drinking, though I would happily drink it all year round. As would my partner - who doesn’t usually even like gin.

Easily one of the best and most unique gins I have ever tasted - and one I will, without doubt, be buying more of.

Pinkster Gin - £5 for 5cl, £24 for 35cl or £35 for 70cl - www.pinkstergin.com

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4 out of 5

Pinkster Gin, Boozy Berries and Gin Jam

This pink-tinted gin is a stunning spirit - ideal with a range of mixers, as its unique floral scent and tones of raspberry shine through well. Add a few sprigs of fresh mint to your g and t to really make the flavours pop.

Though too strong for me personally to drink on its own at 37.5%, it is also delicious on its own with ice.

Though not as smooth as some other gins, this is a unique, stunning drink in its own right.

In addition to its wonderful gin, Pinkster also offers Boozy Berries - a jar of raspberries soaked in gin. These are gorgeous either own their own or popped into a cocktail. These cost £6.50 - and though a little pricey, perfect for treat or gift. They also come with a Boozy Berries Cookbook, which includes recipes for vinaigrette, gin and juniper sauce and desserts.

They also sell Gin Jam which is simply exquisite. A perfectly blended mixture of raspberry jam and gin - again, delicious on its own or on food, or mixed into a cocktail. The jars cost £6.50 - and a little goes a long way.

For a real treat, check out the Pinkster’s Gin ‘n’ Jam cocktail - my favourite cocktail ever.

Palmers Dry Gin - £28 for 70cl - www.masterofmalt.com

5 out of 5

Palmers Gin

Bottled at a whopping 44% ABV, this stunning Midland gin is made at Langley Distillery in Oldbury.

Made with a mix of juniper berries, coriander seeds, cassia bark, liquorice root, angelica root, orris root and grapefruit, this fresh yet smooth, floral, zesty gin is absolutely delicious and very moreish. Due to its smooth aftertaste, this spirit can be drank on its own over ice or mixed with any amount of tonic.

The gin itself has a nice story too. WH Palmer launched Palmers London Dry Gin to celebrate the Palmer family’s 200th year of distilling. This is their first eponymous-brand gin produced at their Langley Distillery in the Midlands.

It is also named after family member Angela Palmer (the great granddaughter of the distillery founder William Henry Palmer) and was produced in her memory.

The distillery itself is built on an ancient site where three springs converge - and this water is still used in the distilling process.

Easily one of the best gins I have ever tasted - and it’s great that in buying this product, consumers are supporting a local business. Its quality is outstanding - and well worth every penny.

Ginity - £35 for 70cl - www.latitudewine.co.uk

3.5 out of 5

Ginity Leeds

This gorgeous gin from Leeds is a limited edition spirit, made in to just 200 bottles in celebration of Leeds’ Gin and Vodka Festival - the largest of its kind in the UK.

Social media users were asked to nominate flavours that best represented Trinity Leeds, with apple, cinnamon, pear and star anise receiving the most public votes - and the stunning, fruity taste of apple and pear shines through above all, making the gin sweet and fresh in all the right places. The apple, pear, cinnamon and star anise have then been combined with juniper, coriander seeds, angelica, root and cardamom, by Sara Birkinshaw at artisan gin producer, Leeds Gin, based in the city - creating a beautiful, smooth, yet complex taste.

Ginity can easily be enjoyed on its own over ice or with any amount of mixer.

A wonderfully unique, sweet yet fresh gin - and a stunning spirit, though a little too sweet for some.

All proceeds from sales of the gin will be donated to Trinity Leeds’ charity fund which will be distributed to charities at the end of 2017.

Conker Spirit Dorset Dry Gin - £35.95 for 700ml - www.conkerspirit.co.uk

3.5 out of 5

Conker Spirit

Made at Dorset’s first gin distillery, Conker Spirit is made from British wheat spirit and and New Forest spring water. At 40% ABV, this strong spirit is made of 10 botanicals - including gorse flower, samphire and elderberries (all of which are hand-sourced from Dorset) - and is copper pot distilled.

Packaged in a stunning bottle, this gin goes a long way and is very dry in flavour, but also refreshing.

Though it boasts notes of elderberry and gorse flowers, this gin is very strong in juniper and is lovely either on its own over ice or with tonic.

The only reason this was not scored a higher mark out of five is purely because its price is higher than some of the others in the list, which I considered equally as good, if not better.

Lakes Distillery: The Explorer Edition Gin - £39.95 for 70cl - www.lakesdistillery.com

4 out of 5

The Lakes Distillery Explorer Edition

Packaged in a stunning patterned sky blue bottle and box, this Cumbrian gin is without doubt one of the most beautifully presented - and would make a wonderful gift for any gin lover.

It is made of 15 different botanicals, including Cumbrian juniper and five others, such as bilberry and heather, which are native to the Lake District National Park, and water from the River Derwent.

It smells of citrus, Earl Grey tea and pepper - and tastes of juniper, coriander and pepper.

A delicious, fresh and complex gin, perfect on its own over ice (and a slice of pink grapefruit too, according to their website, though I have not tried this) or with any amount of chosen mixer.

A really lovely gin, presented beautifully.

Salcombe Gin Start Point - £37.50 for 70cl - www.salcombegin.com

4.5 out of 5

Salcombe Gin

Hand crafted in a copper pot in Salcombe, Devon, this gorgeously smooth gin is blended with water from Dartmoor National Park and has a deliciously well-balanced flavour.

It is created with citrus peels from fruits such as grapefruit, lemon and lime, giving the drink a wonderfully fresh, zesty flavour. A total of 10 botanicals are then also added to the spirit.

Many botanicals, including the citrus and spices, have been traced back to the global maritime trading routes and cargoes once carried by the Salcombe Fruiters, in an attempt by the distillery to preserve the history of the vessels. The Salcombe Fruiters were responsible for importing more than 80% of fresh citrus fruits to England during the 19th century. Serving the great ports of London, Liverpool, Bristol, Hull and Southampton, these fast sailing vessels imported fresh oranges from the Azores and Spain, lemons from Sicily and Italy, pineapples and shaddocks (pomelos) from the Bahamas and spices from Barbados, Nevis, Sri Lanka and further afield.

This gin is one of the smoothest and most pleasant dry gins among the list, and was an absolute pleasure to taste.

Again, wonderful on its own with ice and delicious with any amount of mixer.

Jinzu Gin - £32.95 for 70cl - www.31dover.coml

3.5 out of 5

Jinzu Gin

This sweet, unique gin is a wonderful mixture of English gin fused with delicious Japanese sake, cherry blossom and yuzu lemon (which tastes of orange and mandarin), as well as other typical gin botanicals.

Created by Bristol bartender Dee Davies, this 41.3% ABV gin was named winning product at Diageo’s Show Your Spirit competition back in 2013.

With the unmistakable base taste of botanical-infused gin, mixed with the creaminess of sake, and the sweet flavour of cherry blossom, this is a very unique drink indeed.

Its name was inspired by the yuzu lemon, which it contains, and also the river Jinzu in Japan, which flows past 1,000 cherry trees. The cherry tree branch on the bottle is actually a diagram of a part of the river itself.

With a delicate cherry tree branch, a bird cage, and a little bird holding an umbrella on the bottle with a wooden cork top, its design is chic and modern, without looking over-the-top or garish.

A gorgeous present for anyone who enjoys sweet gin.

Copperhead Black Batch Gin - £36.95 for 50cl - www.31dover.com

3 out of 5

Copperhead Black Batch Gin

This highly unusual spirit is not one for mixing with tonic, unlike the rest on this list, but is beautiful on its own over ice.

With strong flavours of black elderberries and black Ceylon tea, this gin tastes herby and floral, is almost spicy in flavour - and is nothing like anything else I’ve ever tasted. The tea in particular really stands out.

The drink also boasts notes of juniper berries, orange zest, angelica root, cardamon and coriander seeds.

Enchanted by tales of witchcraft and life prolongation, the elderberry bush intrigued the drink’s creator, Mr Copperhead, with its healing properties and belief that it repels evil - an added bonus, if it is to be believed.

Though a tad pricey at £36.95, this is unlike any other gin.

Hayman’s Old Tom Gin - £25 for 70cl - www.haymansgin.com

6 out of 5

Old Tom

Controversially, I have given this gin a whopping six out of five - in reflection of just how absolutely exceptional this gin is.

Without doubt the best gin I have ever tasted (by miles) - and, despite being 40% ABV, easily the smoothest too.

It comes with a delightful tail too (pun intended). Old Tom was very popular back in 18th century England and became rare until a resurgence in the Craft Cocktail movement.

The name Old Tom Gin comes from wooden plaques shaped like a black cat (an Old Tom) mounted on the outside wall of some pubs above a public walkway in 18th century England. Owing to the gin craze, the British government tried to stem the flow of gin with prohibitive taxes and licensing, which drove the scene underground. Under the cat's paw sign was a slot to put money in and a lead tube. From the tube would come a shot of gin, poured by the bartender inside the pub.

This rich, rounded gin is nothing short of spectacular, with hints of citrus and juniper notes. Its dry taste, yet subtle sweetness keeps the spirit true to the original style of English Victorian gin.

Though unavailable for many years, Hayman's decided to make a batch back in 2007 from an old 1870s family recipe.

And thank goodness they did.

The London Essence Co. mixers (Classic London Tonic Water, Grapefruit and Rosemary Tonic Water, Bitter Orange and Elderflower Tonic Water and Delicate London Ginger Ale) - RRP from £1.50 - www.londonessenceco.com/

4 out of 5

London Essence Co. mixers

This delightful selection of mixers give a unique twist to the standard ‘G and T’.

Made from naturally-sourced sweetness (a small amount of sugar, with stevia plant extracts added), the collection is light and low in calories - allowing the spirit they are paired with to shine through perfectly.

The Classic London Tonic Water has notes of citrus, pine, thyme and juniper, and is smoother than your average tonic. Lovely with vodka or gin.

The Grapefruit and Rosemary, meanwhile, is fresh and zesty, without being overpowered by the fruity flavours. The rosemary shines through wonderfully too - and perfectly complements the citrus notes. Again, lovely with gin or vodka.

The Bitter Orange and Elderflower tonic was stunning also; the elderflower providing a sweet, yet subtle, flavour, mixed perfectly with the rich, zesty blood orange.

The Delicate Ginger Ale was, however, a little weak in flavour for our liking - though this is intentional, being ‘delicate. We would have liked a little more fiery flavour ourselves.

Boodles Mulberry Gin - £21 for 70cl - www.boodlesgin.com

5 out of 5

Boodles Mulberry Gin

Originally named after the Pall Mall Gentleman’s Club called Boodles, Boodles Gin used to be enjoyed by Sir Winston Churchill and Ian Fleming. It dates back to 1845 but over time it became increasingly difficult to find. It hadn't been available at all in the UK for a long time, until it was relaunched in 2013.

This gin is absolutely stunning: a sweet, smooth flavoured gin which boasts beautiful flavours of mulberry, raspberry and currant. Despite being 30% ABV, this drink is lovely either on its own over ice, or with lemonade or tonic.

Retailer M&S also recommends sipping this gin when warm during the colder months.

For the price of £21, this is superb value for money - and ideal as something to drink at home or to give as a present.

The Botanist - £33 for 700ml or £13.99 for 200ml - www.thebotanist.com

3.5 out of 5

The Botanist

Made from 22 hand-foraged botanicals sourced from Islay, Scotland, The Botanist is the first and only dry gin from the remote Scottish island.

Ingredients combined to make this stunning gin include London moss, meadowsweet leaves, pear, sweet cicely seeds, lime, steeping ferns, wild angelica root and dabberlocks. Classic gin aromatics are then added to these ingredients to create the final product, including orris root, cassia bark and coriander seeds.

This small-batch gin, which is slow simmer distilled in a Lomond pot-still, is smooth and rich in flavour and boasts notes of juniper, aniseed, citrus and flora.

A lovely spirit, ideal with mixers or on its own over ice.

This was given a lower score than it otherwise may have been granted, due to its fairly high price.

Boodles Dry Gin - £22.49 for 700ml - www.boodlesgin.com

4 out of 5

Boodles Dry Gin

This London Dry Gin, repackaged and rejuvenated under new ownership in 2013, takes its name from Boodle's gentleman’s club in St. James's, London and is now produced at the Greenalls distillery.

Unlike all the other dry gins in this list, Boodles contains no botanicals - and instead is made from herbs and spices, such as nutmeg, sage and rosemary. These ingredients give the spirit a smooth, herbal taste, which perfectly balance the flavour of juniper.

This gin is stunning with a variety of tonics and mixers, as well as on its own over ice.

If you’re looking for unusual cocktail ideas, www.boodlesgin.com has plenty of suggestions which are well worth a try.

For the small amount of £22.49 for this bottle of 40% ABV gin, this is really great value for money.

Craft Gin Club (subscription packages) - £40 (either monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly) - www.craftginclub.co.uk - 5 out of 5

Craft Gin Club

This subscription box is absolutely great - excellent value for money, delicious, indulgent, fun and informative.

For just £40, each box contains a full-sized bottle of gin; a magazine describing the products, where they are from and how they are made; food items and a mixer or two.

The month I had mine, I received a Finnish-themed pack - complete with Kyrö Napue gin, Sekforde botanical mixer, Cranmary chocolate from Goodio, a cranberry and rosemary gin long drink from Kyrö Distillery Company and a 160g pack of Vibe strawberry and honey popcorn.

Kyrö Napue gin is made from rye and its ingredients include sea buckthorn, cranberries and birch leaves. Napue gin was voted as The World’s Best Gin for Gin & Tonic by the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2015 and in 2016 Napue won the gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirit Competition premium gin-series. And no wonder - it’s refreshing, herbal, dry and absolutely delicious; with notes of citrus and pepper.

The Sekforde botanical mixer, meanwhile, boasts flavours of raspberry, rose and sage and is stunning when mixed with gin.

My favourite item of the box was the Cranmary chocolate, which is made from raw cranberry, rosemary and 62% chocolate. This dark, rich chocolate is absolutely beautiful; the tangy cranberries mixing perfectly with the tart raw chocolate and creamy cocoa butter. It also contains gin; though I couldn’t particularly taste it.

The long drink, meanwhile, was deliciously refreshing; the rosemary perfectly complementing the cranberry - creating a smooth, light long drink with wonderful notes of gin.

Finally, the popcorn was lovely - and indulgent too, despite being just 125 calories per 30g. The light popcorn is covered with sharp, yet sweet pieces of strawberry and a hint of honey. Delicious.

I would certainly sign up to this and think it is great value for money.

Cotswolds Dry Gin - £34.99 - www.cotswoldsdistillery.com

5 out of 5

Cotswolds Dry Gin

This gin really is a cut above the rest, boasting a strong natural flavour with a smooth and dry texture.

Cotswolds Dry Gin contains ten times the botanicals than the average London Dry gin, utilising aromatic Cotswolds lavender, black pepper, cardamom seed and sharp pink grapefruit that gives the gin a real bite.

Contrasting lime zest, pine juniper and angelica root give the gin a fresh taste despite it’s perfumed scent, and leaves you wanting more and more.

The clean dryness of the gin makes it an effortlessly refreshing beverage for the warm summer months.

This gin is delicious on its own, over ice or with a plain tonic water that doesn’t dilute the robust flavours it includes.

Packed full of flavour with an invigorating punch - Costwolds Dry Gin is a gin you won’t be able to get out of your mind.

Rock Rose Gin Summer Edition - £37.50 - www.dunnetbaydistillers.co.uk

3 out of 5

Rock Rose Gin

Championing local, hand-foraged botanicals - Dunnet Bay Distillers have released a brand new summer edition of their popular Rock Rose gin.

This summer twist includes the addition of meadowsweet and elderflower that brings a light and floral note to the gin.

Lemon balm adds a faint citrus note to the gin, with clover giving it a slight tang.

I found the flavour to be slightly underwhelming and rather plain - though this does make the gin a perfect light addition to a fruity summer cocktail or to be accompanied by a mixer.

One standout feature of the gin was the includance of pineapple, adding an unexpected sweet tinge to the premium Scottish gin.

Like a summer’s day in a bottle, Rock Rose’s summer edition gin is bound to be a staple of any red hot cocktail party, though a little bit pricey for the mediocre taste.

Bullard’s Handcrafted Norwich Dry Gin - £38 - www.bullardsspirits.co.uk

5 out of 5

Bullards Norwich Dry Gin

Voted the best London dry gin in the world at The World Gin Awards 2017, Bullard’s handcrafted Norwich Dry Gin certainly lives up to this title.

Packed full of flavour - the beverage champions vanilla and cinnamon notes that complement each other beautifully, making it perfect to drink neat or accompanied by your favourite mixer.

Infused with tonka beans and a range of secret botanicals, this gin takes your tastebuds on a wild and exciting ride of flavour.

Despite heavy and complex flavours, the gin is crisp and refreshing to the palate - making it devilishly moreish.

Worth every penny you pay for a bottle, Bullard’s Handcrafted Norwich Dry Gin is a real standout beverage.

The London No1 Original Blue Gin - £33.90 - available from Oddbins and Ocado - www.thelondon1.com

3 out of 5

London No.1

The London No1 people have taken everything we love about gin - and turned it blue. Why? Because, why not?

Their Original Blue Gin is incredibly eye catching, in a minimalistic and sleek bottle that accentuates it’s bold colour.

A bold flavour accompanies its image, with ingredients such as coriander, licorice, cassia, lemon peel and more.

I found this combination to be very overpowering and almost bitter, making it quite difficult to drink without diluting it immensely with mixers.

My friends that also tried this gin found the complexity of flavours to be exciting and unique, and not as off-putting as I did.

A complex gin - though one that I would not drink, it is certainly a taste experience for any die-hard gin fan.

Raisthorpe Oak Aged Yorkshire Dry Gin - £39 - shop.raisthorpemanor.com

4.5 out of 5

Raisthorpe Manor Gin

Mineral water flowing up from ancient springs beneath Raisthorpe Manor is being harnessed to create two distinctive new gins.

Their very first Oak Aged Yorkshire Dry Gin is rested in whisky barrels - giving it a smooth and warming texture with notes of spice and vanilla.

The added bite of pepper works tremendously with the mellow vanilla for the perfect balance of sweet and dry flavours.

Great served neat and cold in a cocktail, this drink also works great with hot drinks due to its warm and homely flavours.

Raisthorpe’s Oak Ages Yorkshire Dry Gin is magical in every sense of the word, and worth every penny of its rather high price tag for its charming backstory and homely ingredients.

Raisthorpe Distilled Yorkshire Dry Gin - £39 - shop.raisthorpemanor.com

4 out of 5

Mineral water flowing up from ancient springs beneath Raisethorpe Manor is being harnessed to create two distinctive new gins.

Fresh botanicals and local watercress are among the ingredients used to make the gin, thought to have been farmed around the Gypsey Race floodplains around 100 years ago.

The secret botanicals and fresh watercress give the gin it’s mouthwateringly fresh despite it’s dry edge.

This complexity of the ingredients is a joy to the palate - I was expecting a bland flavour with the mild watercress, but I was delighted by the sweet notes in the otherwise crisp and dry gin. It offered something unique and new to a classic gin.

Raisthorpe Distilled Yorkshire Dry Gin gives the famous blend a brand new twist with unique flavours, strange ingredients and a magical backstory.

Raisthorpe Sloe Gin - £24.95 - shop.raisthorpemanor.com

4 out of 5

Raisthorpe Sloe Gin

Produced using traditional methods, the award-winning Raisthorpe Manor's Sloe Gin is rich and exciting.

The sloes are grown on the Raisthorpe estate, handpicked and seeped in London Gin and sugar. It is then left for six to eight months to mature.

This care and attention to detail is noticeable as soon as you open the bottle and the rich, full aroma wafts to your nostrils.

I thought the flavour of the gin may be overpowering due to its strong scent, but instead it is warming and delectably rich.

The ingredients complement each other effortlessly and work together to create an intricate tapestry of flavour, rather than an overpowering battle for prominence.

The bitterness and fruit flavour of the sloes makes it a perfect addition to champagne or drank neat on a chilling night.

Perfect for any occasion that requires gin really - Raisthorpe Sloe Gin is affordable and packed full of powerful, exotic flavours.

Topaz Blue Premium Gin - £13.99 for 70cl - Aldi

5 out of 5

Topaz Blue

This award-winning Aldi gin lauds itself as an alternative to the popular and more expensive Bombay Sapphire. It certainly lives up to its description of having the perfect mix of wild botanicals and fruits and makes for a refreshing drink. Its fruity, spicy notes helped it win a Silver Award at this years International Wine and Spirits.

We tried with in the traditional mix of tonic and fresh lime, but its complex flavours also lend to further experimentation with more unusual concoctions. This gin is almost half the price of its direct competition, Bombay Sapphire, yet a definite substitute for those trying to save the pennies but not compromise on taste.

Truly sophisticated, yet for a decent price Topaz Blue Premium Gin comes in a smart blue bottle, and at £13.99 is a true bargain.

Kirsten Rawlins

By Kirsten Rawlins
@kirsten_native

Online Entertainment Editor for the Express & Star, Shropshire Star and Native Monster. E-mail me kirsten.rawlins@nativemonster.co.uk, or phone 01902 319368

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