Delicious Botanical Variations From Six Lesser-Known Gin Brands

Tasting different bouquets from Kyoto to Durham, North Carolina

There is no singular superior gin. The divisive botanical spirit serves many purposes for many different people—and within many different drinks. It’s the workhorse in the G&T, the heart of the martini, the key collaborator in the negroni and much more. Separating each gin from the next is the botanical blend used during its distillation, and we’ve come to love the distinct recipes behind many producers (which include Plymouth, Monkey 47, Suntory’s Roku Gin, Sipsmith, Four Pillars and the stunning Nolet’s Reserve Dry Gin, a tantalizing spirit that incorporates saffron). As we’ve toyed with both of Hendricks‘ recent releases—Orbium and Midsummer Solstice—we’ve also tried a crop of international independent gins. The six selected below represent delicious botanic profiles that work in many scenarios.

Gray Whale Gin

From Sebastopol, California, the seven times distilled Gray Whale Gin features organic and wild foraged botanicals. In addition to juniper, the independent brand incorporates limes from Baja, components of fir trees from Sonoma, sea kelp from the Mendocino coast, mint from Santa Cruz and almonds from the Central Valley. The aromatic 86 proof spirit tastes balanced and its London Dry style makes it versatile. Further, a portion of their proceeds go to Oceana, an organization committed to protecting the world’s oceans.

Tod & Vixen’s Dry Gin 1651

Three of the world’s best bartenders partnered with Poughkeepsie, New York’s Vale Fox Distillery for Tod & Vixen’s Dry Gin 1651. The ultra-premium 96 proof liquid utilizes the angelica and orris root, along with red rooibos tea, fresh orange peel and bitter orange peel. This is a gin that will benefit any cocktails its included in—thanks especially to its dynamic mouthfeel.

KiNoBi Kyoto Dry Gin

Japan‘s KiNoBi Kyoto Dry Gin uses a rice spirit base and water from the sake-brewing district, Fushimi. While the Kyoto distilled, blended and bottled brand models the 91.4 proof liquor’s profile after a dry gin style, their specific recipe sets them far apart. Within, local yellow yuzu pairs with hinoki wood chips, bamboo, gyokuro tea, green sanshō berries and more. It’s a refreshing sip with a noticeably spicy finish.

Dorothy Parker Rose Petal Gin

New York Distilling Co never fails to impress with its limited edition runs. From this category, the tasty Dorthy Parker Rose Petal Gin carries the hues of pink and red rose petals, along with crushed elderberries. At 88 proof, this is no gin liqueur, but a full-strength spirit. Its floral components leave a lasting impression, all the way down to a lengthy finish. It’s not available online, however, only on site at the Brooklyn distillery.

Durham Distillery Conniption Navy Strength Gin

Recognized as best in the US by the World Gin Awards in 2019, Conniption Navy Strength Gin—from North Carolina’s Durham Distillery—packs a flavorful punch. At 114 proof, the alcohol content certainly defines some of the experience but it does not overpower the Indian coriander, caraway, rosemary, cardamom and cassia notes. Citrus and fig round out the botanicals in what is ultimately an inspired, scrumptious spirit.

Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin

From the team behind Rampur whisky, Indian spirits group Radico Khaitan, the 86 proof Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin first tastes much like a classic London Dry. With each sip, new botanicals like vetiver, lemongrass, licorice root and green tea slowly appear to complete a rounder profile. The product launched in 2018 and has begun to circulate internationally. Based on the cocktail it’s used in, either the citrus or spicy elements will come to the forefront.

Hero image by Josh Rubin, all other images courtesy of respective brands