Top Gins of 2019

Gin. It’s why we’re all here. Perhaps not in a metaphysical sense, but maybe in a spiritual one (see what I did there?). It’s probably at least why you’re here, reading this. So thanks for popping by!

And so we come to the end of 2019. It feels a little odd doing an end of year review when I’ve not even been doing this blog for an entire year yet, but that’s how these things tend to work so we’ll go with it. I started this blog at the beginning of February, and if you can believe it, I’ve managed to review 62 gins since then! I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it too, so I look forward to doing more in 2020!

However, as it is the last day of the year, custom dictates that I provide you with some sort of list, as humans are wont to do. Plus everyone loves a ‘best of’! So I’m going to hash together a quick post giving you not only my favourite gins from the year, but also throwing out a few other ‘awards’ as well!

Now, one or two ground rules.

  • This list is of gins I have tried for the first time this year. Which means it could include for example Beefeater (yes, I had never tried it before 2019)! So don’t get all het up if I mention a gin that’s been around for years!
  • It won’t necessarily be only gins I’ve reviewed, but it will be gins I’ve tried more than a sample of. Some I’ve enjoyed for the first time this year, but have yet to blog about.
  • As with all of my reviews, it’s based on personal taste, and while I do my best to make my reviews informative and relevant to all, this post is all about my favourites!
  • Unless stated, there is no order to the lists.

So, without further ado, here let’s get down to business! First, I’m going to cover design, then we’ll look at the juice.

Design

As we know, design has become more and more important as brands battle it out on the aesthetics in order to stand out from the crowd! Some go super fancy, others super simple. Here are my favourites from this year:

Wessex
As you can see, this is a beauty. From the lovely deep turquoise glass, to the elaborate shape, and the complimentary label. It’s definitely ‘front of house’ material. Also, they have now expanded their range and each new flavour comes in its own colour! I’ve picked up The Wyvern’s Gin, which is in a gorgeous smokey grey!

Theodore
An excellent example of letting the bottle (and in this case the beautifully tinted liquid inside) do the talking. It’s such a lovely shape, elegant but sturdy, and a simple, minimal label. Gorgeous.

Chapel Down
A nice mixture of clear and frosted glass with some lovely shaping and simple labelling. Elegant and classy, and the pink is rather lush!

Copperfield
Here’s a great example of what you can do with a label. The bottle is a very standard shape, but the folks at the Surrey Copper Distillery have used it to their advantage to create a very memorable design. Yes, the front is beautifully decorated (as shown in my review), but for me, wrapping the label round the side and making it look like the spine of a book is utterly inspired.

The Lakes
Talk about a re-brand! Now I don’t actually own this bottle, but I’ve been fawning over it since the first time I saw it! Beautiful, elegant lines, well considered colours in the label, and a stunning design embossed on the glass. I love it!

Gins

So here we are… the bit that really matters, and it’s true what they say: it’s what’s inside that counts. I’m so happy that the gin category has continued to grow this year, and while there are countless brands that I’ve yet to taste (feel free to get in touch! Hehehe), I can only comment on what I’ve tried and tested right here in the nest, and so: here are my favourite gins from 2019:

Chapel Down – Bacchus
I bought this for Mrs Raven as it’s her favourite wine, thinking it would be a half decent go at a gin and would get a good reaction if nothing else. It did so much more. This gin is absolutely stunning. Smooth, creamy and full of flavour, it makes one of the best Martini’s I’ve ever had. Bravo Chapel Down!

Manly
As I wrote in my review, this was both a surprise offering from Craft Gin Club, as well as a birthday gift from my friends! It’s a gin I couldn’t be happier to have two bottles of! Bursting with fresh flavours and zesty spices, this gin takes you on a real journey to the Australian coast! I have my eye on the barrel aged too. Gorgeous.

La Republica
Despite only scoring 3.5 in my review (for reasons), I just love, love, love this gin. It’s so unique and full of interesting flavours it really makes my heart sing. If you can get hold of a bottle I honestly think you should give it a try. You will not regret it. I don’t really have the words: I just love it!

Sipsmith
Here it is… the gin that’s been around for ages but which I only tried for the first time not so long ago! And as I said in my review: oh my goodness! What an incredible gin! This should be considered a benchmark for any fans of a classic profile in my opinion. Ridiculously good.

Wessex
As I said in my review, this is quite simply an amazing gin that is greater than the sum of its parts. It may not have any truly stand out features, or quirky botanicals, but therein lies its strength. Not to sound weird, but this is the one gin I’ll uncork simply to smell, it’s so good. Made to perfection.

Brentingby – Barrel Aged
The gin that truly opened my eyes to the potential of the barrel aged gin trend. I met Bruce at Junipalooza and tried everything he had as I had heard such great things, but this was the one that (almost) brought me to my knees (almost literally as I bought 3 bottles and carried them half way across London!). Aged in Jack Daniel’s barrels, this gin shares flavours with my other boozy love: American Whiskey. I think I’ve given away more of my bottle than I’ve drunk myself as I’m just so keen for everyone to try it!

Pothecary
Another gin from Junipalooza that I was eager to try. Martin is pretty much the poster boy for ‘purity’ when it comes to gin, and he absolutely deserves recognition for producing just that, an amazing ‘ginny’ gin (along with the much lauded Trinity blend, which alas I do not yet have). Made from an expert blend of distillates, this organic gin is pure perfection from start to finish.

There can be only one…

Herno – Juniper Cask
So… if you had to force me to pick something for the top spot, this would be it. I tried this at Junipalooza, thinking the whole juniper cask thing was just fancy marketing. I was so very wrong, and immediately sourced a bottle once home. I was beyond blown away by this gin, the smell, the mouthfeel, the flavours. It’s an absolute must try in my opinion.

And there we have it! My favourites from the year that was 2019! And what a year it’s been! Full of, if we’re honest, a whole plethora of shit that I can only hope my blog had distracted you from, if briefly!

I’d also like to give a shout out to a few folks who may not have made the list for various reasons (e.g. I’ve only tried samples etc.) and who have kept me company on Twitter this year. First off, the gin brands:

  • Mackintosh – These guys are just lovely, lovely people with an amazing gin to their name (I was lucky enough to try it at Junipalooza) . This gin is very high on my list for 2020.
  • Hidden Curiosities – From what I understand, Jenny pretty much does everything herself, so for that I applaud her, and while I’ve got the original gin (therefore it’s not new to 2019), I am hearing nothing but great things about her new Aranami Strength. Another one high on my list for 2020.
  • Tappers: These folks work damn hard to make their amazing concoctions, and I tried and was amazed by Darkside this year, again at Junipalooza. If you want the original ‘Figgy Pudding’ gin, this is where to find it!
  • Rare Bird – We met Matt at the distillery in Malton for a Gin Experience this year and not only was it a fantastic day out, he makes an amazing gin! If you fancy a gin based trip to North Yorkshire, I’d highly recommend it!

Next, chums and other bloggers, thanks for keeping a sometimes anxious Raven company:

Thanks for being a part of my blog, and happy 2020!

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All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.


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