The Best Craft Gin Brands Available

5 Brands and 13 Bottles You'll Love

The Classic Gin Martini is an Icon of the Bar
The classic gin Martini is an icon of the bar and there are some fantastic craft gins that can transform the timeless cocktail into a modern wonder. ivanmateev / Getty Images

There is a new world of gin and it is being led by smaller distilleries that specialize in craft spirits. These often innovative brands are exciting long-time martini and gin and tonic drinkers and transforming the perception of gin.

Some of these gins push the original definition of gin, offering a softer juniper profile. Others opt for the complete opposite, producing pine-laden gins that consume and fascinate the senses. The two extremes can even come from the same distillery.

The moral of the story is that gin is once again exciting! There is something for everyone and if you have avoided this category of liquor in the past, try it again. There is a lot of fun to be had and many great cocktails to revisit with each new bottle.

  • 01 of 05

    Williams Chase Gin: There's a Gin for Every Taste

    Williams Chase Gin
    An elegant gin from the UK, Williams Chase is a gin that will make your cocktails ooze with style. Photo Courtesy: Williams Chase

    What started with a very fine potato vodka from the Chase Distillery of Hereford, England has grown into a producer of fine gin. If you have discovered the beauty of Chase Vodka, the next step in your adventure is to get a taste of Williams Chase Gin.

    The distillery is a newcomer to the liquor scene and began operations in 2008 as "Brittain's First and Only Single-Estate Distillery." With the same base as their award-winning vodkas and carefully selected botanicals, a new line of gin was born and it now includes five very impressive spirits.

    The various expressions from Williams Chase Gin offer innovation and style. Whether you enjoy traditional or modern gins, there is a gin here for every palate.

    Williams Elegant 48 Gin

    In 2016, Williams Elegant 48 Gin became the new name for what was known as Williams Chase Elegant Gin. It is the same gin and the "48" refers to the 48 cider apple varieties in the estate's orchards as well as the 48 bubble plates in the column of the vodka still.

    While their potato-based vodka was a smash hit, spuds were not right for the expansion into gin. The team, led by William Chase, turned to another crop on the distillery's estate, the 200-year-old apple orchards. The botanicals include juniper, coriander, angelica, licorice, orris, orange, lemon, hops, elderflower, and Bramley apple. It is bottled at a flavorful 48 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 96 proof).

    This gin falls into the category of modern gin though, unlike Hendrick's and Aviation, it retains that juniper-forward taste. It simply backs it up with a fruity undertone that many drinkers will find refreshing. Give this bottle a try in your favorite martini recipe and discover a new way to enjoy an old favorite.

    Williams Chase GB Extra Dry Gin

    The "GB" stands for Great Brittain and this is an extra dry gin that is bold, warm, and filled with wonderful flavors. It's as traditional as Willams Chase gets with the spirit and will impress any gin lover's palate.

    Bottled at a smooth 40 percent ABV (80 proof), it's botanical list includes juniper berries and buds, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, almond, coriander, cardamom, cloves, licorice, and lemon. The best way to introduce yourself to Williams GB Gin is with the simple gin and tonic.

    Williams Chase Flavored Gins

    If you have tasted Chase Marmalade Vodka or enjoy the newer style of gins, Williams Chase has three bottles worth checking out. Using the GB Gin as a base, there's some great fun to be had in their Seville Orange, Pink Grapefruit & Pomelo, and Rhubarb & Bramley Apple (each 40 percent ABV).

    These gins offer a crisp, refreshing, and fun take on gin that you'll be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Give them a try in the simple gimlet or in a lively gin rickey so you can enjoy the unique taste.

  • 02 of 05

    The Botanist Islay Dry Gin: A Foraged Delight

    The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
    A captivating bottle of gin, The Botanist comes from the land of scotch on the Isle of Islay and features 22 foraged botanicals. Photo Courtesy: The Botanist

    The Botanist is a unique gin from the land of Scotch whisky that's made with foraged botanicals. There are so many aspects of The Botanist that make it a spectacular and one that every connoisseur should taste. Though it is a newer release, it is steeped in tradition and it has quickly received high praise in the artisanal gin scene.

    Forged in the Traditions of Scotch Whisky

    This gin is produced on the Isle of Islay at the Bruichladdich Distillery. The distillery first opened in 1881 and had a checkered history, weathering many of the industry's storms over the years. It was revitalized in the early 2000s and today is known for creating very peaty whiskeys including Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte, and Octomore.

    Released in 2010, gin is new to both the distillery and the island. It was renowned whisky distiller Jim McEwan who created the unique blend that is The Botanist and his extensive experience in crafting fine scotch played a large role in the equally impressive gin. 

    Special considerations needed to be made to distill gin alongside whisky and McEwan and his team made that happen. Among other things, an otherwise abandoned Lomond still at the distillery was transformed specifically for the process.

    Foraged From the Wilds of Islay

    The Botanist's botanical blend is extensive and this leads to one of the most complex gins you will taste. The list includes a total of 31 botanicals and two of Islay's resident botanists forage for 22 of those ingredients. It adds a unique meaning to locally-sourced liquor.

    The gin is crafted as slowly and meticulously as it takes to hand-pick its ingredients:

    • The 9 core botanicals are infused into the initial distillate. These include juniper, angelica root, cassia bark, cinnamon bark, coriander seeds, lemon peel, licorice root, orange peel, and orris root.
    • The foraged botanicals are apple mint, bog myrtle, chamomile, creeping thistle, downy birch, elder, gorse, hawthorn, heather, juniper, lady's bedstraw, lemon balm, meadowsweet, mugwort, red clover, spearmint, sweet cicely, tansy, water mint, white clover, wild thyme, and wood sage. They are added gently through the vapors of the still's lyne arm just before the condenser.
    • McEwan purposely slowed the distillation down to allow the flavors to fully harmonize with the grain spirit.
    • It is bottled at 46 percent ABV (92 proof), which adds a nice boost to the flavor.

    Enjoy The Botanist

    The result of all of this careful planning is a spectacular gin. Few words can describe the experience properly as it is unlike any other and it doesn't have a distinct characteristic or dominant flavor.

    The Botanist is a perfectly balanced marriage of every botanical it uses. There is a refreshing hint of apple mint mixed with juniper, then waves of citrus and spice. You will experience both coolness and warmth and, as the distillery's tasting notes say, "a starburst of flavours as they explode across the palate."

    There is nothing to dislike about The Botanist. In fact, you will easily fall in love with it! When it comes to cocktails, there is not a gin cocktail that it will not fit because the botanical profile is one of the most versatile on the market. In keeping with the foraged spirit of the gin, you might even want to go out and pick wild berries and herbs for your drinks. 

  • 03 of 05

    Bloom Gin: An English Garden in a Glass

    Bloom Premium London Dry Gin
    Bloom Premium London Dry Gin. Mark Davis/Getty Images

    Bloom Gin offers an unexpected, floral twist from one of the world's oldest gin distilleries. It has been described as a "gateway gin," a "gin for women," and an "unexpected gin." All of these only begin to describe the wonders held inside this bottle. No matter your personal gin preference, it's one you will want to try.

    A Woman's Touch

    The story of Bloom Gin begins with one woman and a very old distillery. Joanne Moore is now the seventh Master Distiller at the famous G&J Greenall Distillery in Warrington, North West England. She is one of the few women to make it to such a high role in the liquor industry. Greenall has been producing great London dry gins since 1761 and has even helped other gin producers meet their goals (notably Bulldog Gin).

    Moore's experience and Greenall's tradition were the perfect foundations for creating a brand new, very modern gin. It may have taken a woman's touch to create the floral wonder that is Bloom!

    An English Garden in a Glass

    Bloom is one of the many gins that have revolutionized this category in recent years. It is soft, floral, and delicate, distilled from English wheat and billed as a London dry gin (bottled at 40 percent ABV). The botanical list features juniper, chamomile, honeysuckle, and pomelo along with cubeb, coriander, and angelica.

    Moore made a point not to break the tradition of gin, she merely enhanced what was already great about it. Unlike some of the "new Western gins," Bloom celebrates juniper! While it is just a bit softer, it's the first noticeable element. The chamomile and honeysuckle follow closely behind and the citrus and other botanicals round out the experience.

    The inspirations for Bloom are the country gardens and wildflower meadows that dot the British countryside. Keep this in mind when choosing cocktails and mix Bloom into soft drinks with light flavors that will highlight the unusual bouquet. While many favorite gin cocktails are a good beginning, drinkers worldwide rave about Bloom in a classic French 75.

  • 04 of 05

    St. George Spirits: 3 Impressive Bottles of American Gin

    St. George Spirits' Gin Portfolio
    St. George Spirits is a California distillery that is crafting amazing spirits. Among those are three bottles of gin and each has its own character. Photo Courtesy: St. George Spirits

    Discover the craftsmanship of great American gin in St. George Spirits. The distillery began as a one-man operation in 1982 in Alameda, California and has grown considerably since. Over the last decade or so, St. George has been a leader in America's craft spirits industry, producing a fascinating variety of distilled spirits.

    The St. George Spirits' portfolio includes gins, vodkas, whiskeys, liqueurs, and even absinthe. It is diverse but every bottle is of the highest quality and perfect examples of the small-batch revolution.

    St. George Spirits produces three different gins, each with their own style, purpose, and unique character. If you see it, pick up a mini triple pack that allows you to taste and compare all three.

    Terroir Gin: The Forest in a Glass

    St. George Terroir Gin (45 percent ABV, 90 proof) is definitely for those who love a bold pine flavor in their gin. This one is intended to capture a "forest in a glass," specifically the Douglas fir found in California's forests.

    A true locally-sourced spirit (explaining the terroir name), it also features California bay laurel and coastal sage among its 12 botanicals. Notable among the others are coriander seeds which are roasted in a seasoned wok at the distillery.

    Use this gin in your favorite holiday cocktails and allow its earthy pine to fill you with the seasonal spirit. It also makes a fantastic Tom Collins. For summer drinks, the brand recommends pairing it with fresh berries.

    Botanivore Gin: The "Botanical Eater"

    Why does this gin have the nickname "botanical eater"? Because it holds a total of 19 botanicals, among the longest botanical lists in today's small-batch gin market. 

    Botanivore (45 percent ABV, 90 proof) is a flavor extravaganza and you will be hard pressed to find a similar gin on the market, especially one that is handcrafted like this. It is everything that is fascinating about gin rolled into a single glass: herbaceous, earthy, bright citrus, soft florals, noteworthy spices, and so much more.

    • The botanicals include angelica root, bay laurel, bergamot peel, black peppercorn, caraway, cardamom, cilantro, cinnamon, citra hops, coriander, dill seed, fennel seed, ginger, juniper berries, lemon peel, lime peel, orris root, Seville orange peel, and star anise.

    Of the three gins, Botanivore is St. George Spirits' most versatile. This is a gin that you will want to stock in your liquor cabinet regularly and use in any of your favorite gin cocktails. Martinis, tonics, old-school or modern recipes... it works for all of them.

    Dry Rye Gin: A Gin for Whiskey Lovers

    The description of their Dry Rye Gin (49.5 percent ABV, 99 proof) certainly whets the palate. This gin is distilled entirely from rye and that gives it a genever-like feel. It's rich and malty with some of those signature rye spices that make rye whiskey special.

    Only six botanicals—juniper, black peppercorn, caraway, coriander, grapefruit peel, and lime peel—make it into this gin, so it is considerably milder in that aspect. Yet, the rye base definitely makes up for that.

    St. George Dry Rye Gin can be used in a variety of cocktails. The distillery recommends a Negroni or Martinez and also notes that it can be a rye whiskey substitute in classic cocktails. It would also be nice in genever cocktails.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Leopold Bros. American Small Batch Gin

    Leopold's American Small Batch and Navy Strength Gin
    A fine pairing of gin, the American Small Batch and Navy Strength gins from Leopold Bros. are a gin connoisseur's dream. Photo Courtesy: Leopold Bros.

    Soft or bold, Leopold Bros. has a gin for your style. Though it started as a brewery, this brand has captured the attention of the world with their distilled spirits.

    The Denver, Colorado distillery is home to a variety of craft spirits including gins, whiskeys, vodka, liqueurs, and aperitifs. They even have an amaro and absinthe. If you have a recipe that calls for a hard-to-find or old-school spirit, they may have it.

    There are many aspects of Leopold Bros. that helps them stand out. In the true spirit of handcrafted liquor, every part of the process is done on site. Though it is a diverse portfolio, each bottle is the highest quality and many include a hand-written batch number.

    Good Gin Takes Time

    Leopold Bros. produces three styles of gin and they are completely unique from one another. This is a hallmark of a great small distillery because they have the time and patience to redevelop formulae rather than simply tweak a proven success.

    What these gins have in common is the dedication to quality. It begins with a base spirit that is an unusual blend of wheat, potato, and barley.

    The botanicals are also carefully selected and distilled into the spirit individually. This process is called fractional distilling and it is a time-consuming method that most gin producers do not use. However, it allows Leopold Bros. precise control over each botanical's flavor before they are combined.

    Leopold's American Small Batch Gin

    The foundation of Leopold Bros. gin, their American Small Batch (40 percent ABV, 80 proof) was an instant hit on its 2001 release. The timing was perfect as craft distilling was just gaining notice and discerning drinkers began looking to the "little guy" to quench their thirst.

    This is a gin that everyone can enjoy. It has a softer juniper profile and subtle hints of bright citrus from pummelo and Valencia orange.

    Use the Small Batch Gin in your favorite gin cocktail, particularly any of the gin martinis. It deserves the highest quality of drinks and is best paired with softer flavors that allow the gin to shine.

    Remember, it is not a robust London dry gin, so it can get lost with heavy flavors. Save those drinks for Leopold Bros. Navy Strength.

    Leopold's Navy Strength American Gin

    Navy strength is used to describe high-proof gin that sailors of the British Royal Navy found would not make their gunpowder worthless after a spill.

    Bottled at 114 proof (57 percent ABV), this gin is not for the weak of heart or palate. You really need to love gin to appreciate Leopold's Navy Strength as it is juniper-heavy (twice the normal intensity) and has a bold, intense flavor overall.

    The distillery did not simply bottle a higher-proof version of the successful Small Batch Gin; they started from scratch and released this one in 2012. The extra juniper and a switch to bergamot for the citrus notes created an entirely new gin that is very fascinating.

    Unlike their other gin, Leopold's Navy Strength is not going to be for everyone and it is meant to be mixed. There is no need to worry about losing this gin in a drink because you will always know it's there. Most drinkers have found that it's best in tall drinks that use less gin, such as the gin buck.

    Leopold's Summer Gin

    In 2017, the distillery started offering a seasonal gin that only comes out during the summer months. Appropriately named Summer Gin (47 percent ABV, 94 proof), it's bright, airy, and has a few special botanicals.

    This bright gin features sweet blood oranges from Spain, lemon myrtle from Australia, and immortal flowers from France. They're brilliant companions for the juniper and definitely give the gin that summer feel.

    Reserve Leopold's Summer Gin for your floral cocktails like the rose martini and garden-fresh recipes that take advantage of the season's best produce. If you have a favorite in which you typically pour Hendrick's or Aviation, try this gin instead.