Tasted: Neat & Mixed Gin

By Martin Isark
Stocking up with Gin for Christmas and beyond? Be informed, take a look at the positives and the negatives of the popular and not so popular Gins below:

In the tasting room:
Gins were tasted both neat and mixed with Schweppes Tonic water (50 ml of gin to 100 ml tonic). All prices are for 70 cl bottles. Table shows alcohol content, price and overall score out of 100.

1. Beefeater London Dry Gin – £14 – (alcohol content – 40%) Overall score: 93
Good design bottle, very good value, smooth enough to be drunk neat but excellent with tonic.
Taster’s notes: “Want a flavoursome, well crafted gin that will compete and complement the quinine in the tonic? Beefeater is as good as you’ll buy.”

2. Plymouth Gin – £25 – (41.2%) Overall score: 88
Classy looking, expensive compared to some, stronger alcoholic content, good, distinctive taste neat and is excellent with tonic.
Taster’s notes: “Not the cheapest but you can’t fault the taste if you are a G&T drinkers.”

3. Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin – £18 – (40%) Overall score: 86
Distinctive blue bottle, price varies but good value when under £20. Not as smooth as more expensive gins drunk neat but good when mixed.
Taster’s notes: “Would be good in a Martini. A botanical flavour complements tonic with a softer style.”

4. Oliver Cromwell London Dry Gin – £9.99 (Aldi own label) (37.5%). Overall score: 85.
Traditional inoffensive looking bottle, fantastic value for money, good with tonic, not so great neat.
Taster’s notes: “Hits the gin spot for flavour and price with its mix of juniper and fruit peels. As good as Gordon’s which costs more.”

5. Marks & Spencer Spirit of London Dry Gin – £26 (40%) Overall score: 83
Dumpy bottle, more expensive than some others, excellent taste neat or in a Martini but not as nice as others when mixed with tonic.
Taster’s notes: “One for the aficionados who drink gin neat or in a Martini. Tonic’s pronounced quinine notes give this gin’s citrus notes a bit of a kicking though.”

6. Sipsmith London Dry Gin – £28 – (41.6%) Overall score: 82
A ‘super premium’ gin, higher alcohol content so it costs more and can be drunk neat but not so good with tonic.
Taster’s notes: “As good as it gets neat but loses its mojo when you add tonic. Worth the money if you drink gin neat or nearly neat but not if you are a G&T drinker.”

7. Gordon’s Special London Dry Gin – £13-16 (37.5%) Overall score: 81
Traditional looking, price varies depending on special offers, very good with tonic but not particularly smooth if drunk neat.
Taster’s notes: “Mix of juniper and peel fruits is first rate to hit the G&T spot. Not as silky smooth as the super premiums though.”

8. City of London Dry Gin – £32.50 (40%) Overall score: 75
Looks expensive and is expensive, better ‘nearly neat’ but average when mixed with tonic.
Taster’s notes: “Worth a punt if you are a ‘nearly neat’ drinker and your Christmas bonus has come it. But delivers a G&T that is no better than one half its price.”

9. 6 O’Clock Gin – £28.69 (43%) Overall score: 70
Strongest alcohol content, trendy blue bottle, delicate taste when sipped neat but overpowered by tonic in a G&T.
Taster’s note: “Silky smooth with notes of juniper and peel fruits when sipper, but the higher alcohol content makes it hot and aggressive on the swallow. Forget it if you are a G&T drinker. Not worth the extra premium.”

10. Heston from Waitrose Earl Grey & Lemon Gin – £23 (40%) Overall score: 44
Classy design, price is not the worst for an upmarket gin, but not smooth enough to be drunk neat and too aggressive to have with tonic.
Taster’s note: “Aroma and flavour does not work neat or with a mixed. The mix of botanicals which includes Earl Grey tea and lemon are aggressive and angular from the mid palate through to the swallow. Back to the lab with this one Heston.”

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Beefeater London Dry Gin
Beefeater is one of  the leading brands found on the spirit shelves. Want  your Gin with with pronounced  perfumed botanicals? This is the one to pick from the shelf. Tasted by Martin Isark.


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