Our editors carefully select every product we recommend. We may earn a commission from these links. Learn more

The 9 Absolute Best Gins to Adds to Your Home Bar

Best Gins 00 Hero

The spirits world has experienced a big uptick over the past decade, and gin has been one of the categories that’s seen the most growth and exposure. Known for its versatility for being able to either sip neat, put on the rocks, or add to a cocktail, gin has alcohol enthusiasts clamoring with enthusiasm for a reason. Certainly, gin is made to be tasted. Unlike many spirits made from one or two ingredients and receive much of their flavor from the barrels they’re stored in, gins are specifically, even meticulously, designed to have unique and distinctive flavors sometimes using dozens of ingredients. 

Accessible for newcomers but refined enough for longtime spirits snobs, gin is certainly a spirit all its own. And now, we’ve chosen the best gins whether you’re stocking your bar at home or building up your cocktail repertoire, or both. Find out why the most notorious scourge of the 18th century is now considered among the most refined and dignified of spirits.

Best Gins to Drink

What Is Gin and How’s It Made?

Dating as far back as the 11th century when Benedictine monks infused their malted wine with juniper berries, gin, as we know it now, has gone through considerable evolutions over the past thousand years or so. Today, gin is a neutral grain spirit of agricultural origin that’s not a lot different than vodka, but with enough specifications to make it its own category.

The neutral spirit (usually from malt or grain) that’s distilled for a second time with juniper berries and other botanicals. According to law, juniper must be part of the spirit’s DNA and also its flavor profile. The berries are added in one of two ways: either by vapor infusion or steeping. From there, any array of botanicals can be added to the mix. You’ll see gins that just use juniper and gins that boast upwards of 20 or 30 botanicals.

Other gin regulations, which vary from country to country, include minimum bottling ABV (in America that’s 40% while in Europe it’s 37.5%). However, the relatively loose standards, especially compared to whiskey and tequila, have made distillers fall in love with gin-making, especially in today’s innovation-happy landscape. It’s why there is a good deal of differentiation, even amongst its own style categories.

Gin Styles

London Dry: Encompassing some of the more prominent names in the gin world, London Dry is what most people grew up knowing gin as, prior to this current renaissance for the spirit. Brands like Tanqueray, Bombay, and Beefeater are all London Dry gins. Typically juniper-heavy in taste and makeup, the style came about around the second half of the 19th century thanks to the invention of the Coffey still, which created a smoother and cleaner spirit compared to the Old Tom gins that came before. Despite its name, London Dry is not limited to just London, although it’s considerably less common outside the U.K.

New Western: “New Western” won’t really appear on the bottle’s label, but you can usually tell these gins apart from other types based on where they come from and how they’re made (although they can be made anywhere). New Western, or “modern,” gins often use, along with juniper, an array of botanicals such as rose, lavender, pine, licorice, cucumber, and anything under the sun, really. Most North American labels fall into this style, often utilizing “local” botanicals in their process, but overseas distilleries such as Hendrick’s can also be considered New Western. These are where the industry is really thriving right now and exhibits some of the best gins in the world.

Old Tom: The style of gin that existed prior to London Dry, Old Tom is often sweeter and softer than its brethren. Its heyday was short but fervent, rising in prominence in the 18th century and distilled from pot stills.

Plymouth: Plymouth gin came about in the 18th century as the British Government wanted to designate spirits made outside of London, in the southern England town of Plymouth. Compared to London Dry, these gins had earthier tones thanks to local botanicals such as orris root and are a sort of foreteller of today’s trend of distilleries using local botanicals. Now, there’s only one distillery left in town: Plymouth Distillery.

Navy Strength: Less of a style than it is a proofing denotation, navy strength gin dates back to the 19th century when the British Royal Navy would use gunpowder to ensure that the rationed gin wasn’t watered down. They found that if it ignited the gunpowder, the gin must be around 55% ABV or higher. Today, we call these higher-proof gins “navy strength.” These are essentially high-proof London Dry gins.

Genever: For some 200 years following the Dutch revival in the 16th century of the old Benedictine methods of infusing juniper, genever was arguably the most popular spirit in Europe, especially for the British. A precursor to Old Tom and, thus, London Dry, genever is also the etymological origin of the word “gin.” These days, not many distilleries dabble in genever, and the ones that do mostly make pastiches of the traditional style. Genever is now split into two types, which translate to “old” and “young.” Old genever, by law, must have at least 15% malted win and no more than 20g of sugar per liter. Young genever, on the other hand, can have no more than 15% malted wine.

St. George Botanivore

St George Botanivore Gin

Best Overall: St. George has a long list of spirits that it makes exceptionally well, but its range of gin (which even includes one that takes like literal trees) is the stuff of legend and proof that New Western gins are here to stay. While each of their expressions will appeal to a different palate, the California-based distillery’s Botanivore is easy its most accessible and versatile. Whether you’re sipping neat or making a killer martini, you’ll be glad you have all 19 of its botanicals swirling around, which include the likes of cardamon, cinnamon, orange peel, star anise, and black peppercorn.

Style: New Western (United States)
ABV: 45%
Tasting Notes: Black peppercorn, cardamom, juniper, cinnamon, orange peel, star anise

Empress 1908 Gin

Empress 1908

Runner-Up: Don’t let the purple color of Empress 1908 Gin turn you off. First of all, the vibrant color comes from one of its eight botanicals, butterfly pea blossom. Second of all, the flavor profile is among the most exquisite in the gin world. From Victoria Distillers in Canada, Empress has risen to become one of the most popular expressions on the market. And while we admit that it may have something to do with consumer curiosity for the color-changing effect of its hue when mixed into cocktails, it’s also the gin’s remarkable palate that makes drinking it straight perhaps even more rewarding, which in part comes from its copper pot distillation methods. Some of its other flavor notes are imparted by cinnamon bark, rose petal, ginger root, and Fairmont Empress tea (from the legendary hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, which this gin gets its name from). 

Style: New Western (Canada)
ABV: 42.5%
Tasting Notes: Butterfly pea blossom, Fairmont Empress tea, juniper, rose, ginger, cinnamon

Tanqueray London Dry Gin


Best Cheap Gin: One of the best things about gin is the quality you get at a considerably low price; few gins are ever more than $40, with lots of them well under that price point. However, when it comes to truly cheap gins, that quality can be hit or miss. For a reliable option, check out Tanqueray, which features a crisp, approachable gin that serves as a prime example of the London Dry style. It goes incredibly well in cocktails and can even be sipped on the rocks or neat. And you’ll find this bottle at just about any bar you visit.

Style: London Dry
ABV: 47.3%
Tasting Notes: Juniper, citrus, spice

Gray Whale Gin

Gray Whale Gin

Best Newcomer: You may have noticed the aqua blue bottles of Gray Whale at your local bar or liquor store. And while marketing is important, what’s inside the bottle is what counts here. Inspired by a gray whale swimming with her calf off the coast of Big Sur, a Californian couple decided to launch a new gin brand using six botanicals, all found along the whale’s migratory path in California. These include juniper, mint, limes, fir trees, sea kelp, and almonds — with the location of each listed on the front of the bottle. Aside from being one of the smoothest gins on the market, the bottles are made from sustainably-sourced ingredients at 1% of all sales go towards environmental causes.

Style: New Western (United States)
ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Juniper, mint, pine, lime, jasmine



Best for Martinis: If you’ve ever been frustrated upon ordering a martini after the waiter or bartender asks you, “vodka or gin?” then you’re a real gin enthusiast. You also probably already know of the power of Hendrick’s mixed with a small amount of vermouth (and maybe some olive juice). Launched in 1999, the Scottish brand helped change the landscape of the spirit over two decades ago and has risen to become one of the most popular labels in the world. Essentially an offshoot of whisky producers William Grant & Sons, Hendrick’s Gin was created after master blender David Stewart had the idea to infuse the juniper spirit with rose petals and, later, cucumber, employing the help of future-master distiller Lesley Gracie to create an all-new type of gin. 

Style: New Western (Scotland)
ABV: 44%
Tasting Notes: Juniper, rose, cucumber

Fords Gin Officers’ Reserve Navy Strength Gin

Fords Gin Officers Reserve Navy Strength Gin

Best for Negronis: When making a classic Negroni — which consists of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and the Italian apéritif Campari — you’ll want a gin that can be bold, juniper-forward, and high in alcohol. We’ve picked the 109-proof Officers’ Reserve from Fords, a navy-strength gin that goes well with just about any cocktail. Built for mixology, base gin was reverse-engineered so that it can have that very sort of versatility, using nine botanicals that include juniper, jasmine, grapefruit peel, orris root, and cassia. It then spent three weeks in Amontillado sherry oak casks. Likewise, the bottle was designed to fit into bartenders’ hands easier when pouring. 

Style: Navy Strength
ABV: 54.5%
Tasting Notes: Juniper, jasmine, grapefruit, orris root, cinnamon, orange

Barr Hill Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin

Barr Hill Tom Cat

Best for Whiskey Drinkers: Among the most unique gins you’ll ever taste, Barr Hill’s Tom Cat gives a whole new meaning to “barrel-aged” and is one of the most versatile — and sippable — gins you will find. Spending six months in new charred American white oak barrels, this new-wave spirit comes from Vermont and utilizes honey in its gin-making process. Added right after the juniper, the raw honey is made by the distillery’s very own bees and, thus, taps into the botanicals of the surrounding area. Although it’s technically not an Old Tom gin, this has a similar profile to certain modern-day Old Toms.

Style: New Western (United States), Barrel-Aged
ABV: 43%
Tasting Notes: Juniper, honey, oak, vanilla, banana, caramel

Sipsmith Gin VJOP

Sipsmith VJOP

Best Juniper-Heavy: Let’s face it, you’re probably not drinking any sort of gin unless you like the flavor of juniper in the first place. For those who love big gins, Sipsmith VJOP is the biggest. Sipsmith was founded in 2009 and was the first London distillery to use copper pot stills in almost 200 years. An acronym for “Very Junipery Over Proof,” this expression is more of a celebration of juniper itself than it is of gin and adds the botanical to three separate distillation stages. Oh yeah, and it’s bottled at a scorching 57.7% ABV.

Style: Navy Strength
ABV: 57.7%
Tasting Notes: Juniper

Monkey 47 Dry Gin

Monkey 47

Best Top-Shelf Gin: Gin from Germany? Yep. Seems there was a British serviceman who was stationed in Germany after the Second World War, and he was so moved by the area’s devastation that he vowed to help rebuild. First, he sponsored a monkey at the zoo. Then he opened a pub, and, finally, a distillery. The result is that Germany has made a multiple-award winning gin, certainly one that has to be in any discussion as among the best in the world. So you know where the monkey part comes from. The 47 comes from the 47 botanicals used (including cranberries and pimentos), as well as the fact that the final product is 47 percent alcohol. The nose is so complex that I was still picking out scents on the fourth try. It’s the same story with the taste, but I found that it started out heavily with orange peel and tart berry, and was followed by wood smoke and mint. This finish is similarly thick, but (perhaps thankfully), not as varied and complex. Have this after dinner or later and night and let it start the conversation (which should not include the concept of mixing).

Style: New Western (Germany)
ABV: 47%
Tasting Notes: Juniper, orange peel, tart berry, smoke, mint, herbal

The Absolute Best Bourbons to Drink

Best Bourbons 0 Hero
Photo: Barrell Bourbon

Now that you’ve read about the best gins on the market, check out our guide to the absolute best bourbons to drink.