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Ready for all your G&T, Martini and Negroni needs, the latest crop of gins is coming through. Many have stories they aim to tell, including a “Downton Abbey”-inspired bottling, a new gin made by a member of American bourbon royalty and a pink gin that pays homage to Martini maven Dorothy Parker.
Gin is a particularly fast-growing category right now, so it’s with good reason that producers are trying to grab consumers’ attention however they can. According to Mintel, gin is the fastest-growing of the white spirits, with sales up by 25% and the gin category growing 4.8%, outpacing rum and even vodka. After all, when even Amazon gets on board launching its own gin (Tovess is available in the U.K., France and Germany but not yet in the U.S.), you know something’s afoot.
These are nine new gins to check out, all released within the past 12 months. They differ wildly in provenance (some are from England, as you’d expect, but others are made in India and across the U.S.), in the raw material used for the underlying distillate (maple sap, apple, corn and other grains) and of course in their botanicals. Interestingly, very few of these newcomers are made in the classic London dry style; many dial down the traditional juniper element, and a couple even veer into the burgeoning “flavored gin” arena.
This Kentucky-made “New World gin” launched in early 2020 and is made by Steve Beam, a seventh-generation distiller (he’s a member of the famed Jim Beam bourbon-making family). Having earned a degree in horticulture, Beam chose to focus on gin, with its botanical nature, rather than whiskey. Distilled from grain, this gin includes lemon verbena, bitter orange peel, rosemary and honeysuckle; many of the botanicals were grown on-site at Limestone Branch Distillery.
Who says extra filtration is only for vodka? Bend, Ore., distillery Crater Lake Spirits introduced in spring 2019 a reserve gin distilled from corn and filtered 50 times through charcoal and crushed red lava rock, a process the producer says gives a “creamy, soft mouthfeel.” Botanicals include Oregon juniper berries, coriander and peels from grapefruit, as well as both Seville bitter oranges and sweet oranges.
From Brooklyn’s New York Distilling Company, this 10,000-bottle, limited-edition release launched in August 2019, to coincide with what would have been the 125th birthday of its namesake, the witty writer Dorothy Parker. The expression is infused with red and pink rose petals, as well as crushed elderberries, giving the gin a vibrant pink hue and a floral hint on nose and palate.
Flavored gins are on a tear in England, but we haven’t seen too many of them here in the U.S. yet. This is one to note. Technically, it’s not 100% new; previously, it was available on-site at the Columbus, Ohio, distillery. But after scooping up a double gold and “Best Flavored in” title at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the craft distillery opted to revamp the label and broaden distribution, so it’s new to most of us. Made in collaboration with Watershed Distillery partner Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, this gin has a culinary bent, distilled from a base of apple and corn and macerated with dried chamomile flowers, rose petal and nutmeg. The effect is relatively delicate, a bit like sipping a spiced herbal tea.
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Released in May 2019, this limited-edition gin made in Scotland is “infused with natural flavors and floral essences,” says Hendrick’s. Packaged in a purple glass bottle, this gin pours crystal clear and offers pleasing notes of juniper and violet, along with a juicy hint of blackberry.
Positioned as the gin from “the real Downton Abbey,” Highclere Castle, this gin, which was released in August 2019, is made with botanicals from the castle used as the set from the iconic period drama. Specifically, the bottling includes juniper, lavender and other herbs from the castle’s herb gardens, originally planted in the ninth century by the Bishops of Winchester. A measure of estate-grown oats also are incorporated into the distillation. Even the custom royal-purple glass bottle is shaped to evoke the main tower of the castle. The liquid inside is on the gentler side of the gin spectrum, citrusy with a demure hint of lavender on the exhale.
This Minneapolis newcomer is made with 14 botanicals, the producer says, all “thoughtfully selected to craft a gin with the elusive fifth taste: umami.” It’s a micro-batch gin; the base is distilled from Wisconsin maple sap harvested during the spring thaw season. Just 3,000 bottles make up the limited-edition run, but another bottling is anticipated later in 2020. The flavor channels both sweet and savory notes, transforming from fleeting rosewater and raspberry to a pink peppercorn and coriander spiced finish.
Named for the Indian city of Jaisalmer, this spirit is distilled at the Rampur Distillery, one of India’s oldest distilleries, located in the foothills of the Himalayas. It incorporates Indian botanicals such as Darjeeling green tea leaves, coriander, orange peel, cubeb pepper berries, lemongrass and lemon peel.
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Made at The Vale Fox Distillery in Dutchess County, N.Y., in collaboration with a trio of bartenders, including the late Gary (gaz) Regan along with Jeff Morgenthaler and Leo Robitschek, this newcomer was created with cocktail-mixing in mind. By design, the juniper levels are dialed way down, while orris root, coriander and angelica are given more prominence, yielding a clean, soft gin that shines in Martinis and pretty much every other drink too.