Joburg, like most of the drinking world, is in the midst of a ‘ginaissance’. But there are many types of gin, all based on the humble juniper berry, but each with their own different origins, style and flavour profiles. So how do you choose? We supped enough gin to consider ourselves as being knowledgeable about such things and help you navigate the ever-evolving category.
BLOOM London Dry Gin
Get ready to live full bloom! Handcrafted by England’s oldest gin distillers, BLOOM London Dry Gin has style, substance and sass and follows Bombay Sapphire’s lead with a gorgeous blue bottle that wouldn’t look out of place in a perfumery. It’s defined by floral, botanical, honeysuckle and chamomile flavour notes – think a fresh and fragrant aroma and a distinctively light and floral taste with a touch of sweetness. This is a really versatile gin that would work in a number of cocktails, but we advise splurging on a premium tonic water and garnishing it with quartered strawberries – their sweetness compliments the gin’s floral notes perfectly.
R499 from all major wholesalers and retailers
Uniquely bottled in a hexagonal glass vessel, Roku Gin is yuzu-forward with a peppery spice that fills the mouth. It’s first flavoured with traditional aromatics such as juniper berries, coriander, angelica root and seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, and peels from lemon and bitter orange. Six Japanese botanicals – sakura flower, sakura leaf, yuzu peel, sencha tea, gyokuro tea and sansho pepper – then enhance its rich character. We find this gin a bit too delicate for most tonics, but it’s an excellent martini gin and would fare very well with lime and soda as well. If you do drink it with tonic, we recommend serving it over cubed ice in a highball glass and garnishing it with ginger sticks.
R299 from all major retailers, including Pick n Pay, Checkers, Makro and select TOPS at Spar
Bloedlemoen Handcrafted Gin
A gin for the ‘Chef’s Table’ generation, Bloedlemoen Handcrafted Gin (pronounced ‘blue’d le moon’) is made from locally sourced tarocco blood orange. A refreshing and delicious liquid layered with the warmth of selected spices, it includes no less than 10 natural botanicals: Juniper, blood orange, orange peel, grains of paradise, coriander, cassia bark, nutmeg, liquorice root, angelica root and cardamom. The cute label draws you in, but Bloedlemoen delivers on more than its packaging – this is one of the most interesting gins on the market. It can easily be sipped over ice or mixed in a simple G&T with a slice of orange (fresh or dried) or a cinnamon stick (or piece of cassia bark).
R399 from all good bottle stores
An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin
One might assume that the creators of An Dúlamán Irish Maritime Gin were listening to early ’90s hip hop while devising this recipe, because it smells and tastes like gin and juice – and we love it. Boasting five locally harvested seaweeds (sweet kombu, dulse, pepper dulse, dulaman and superfood carrageen moss) mixed with six botanicals (juniper, coriander, angelica, sweet orange, lemon and cassia), the end result is a taste that captures fresh juniper, an umami richness and the dry tang of sea breeze. And did we mention the black glossy bottles wax sealed with Celtic lettering? This is a one-of-a-kind offering ideal for mixing with lemon tonic water or bitter lemon and pairing with seafood and sushi.
R299 from all good bottle stores
Mr. Copperhead was a notorious alchemist who, during his pursuit of searing for the elixir of life, conjured up this exquisite gin. Made using the perfect balance of five ingredients – juniper, coriander seeds, angelica, cardamom and orange peel – Copperhead Gin lets sweet, citrussy notes shine. Slightly sweeter and earthier than a typical London Dry Gin, there’s also a lot of citrus in this pour. It’s exceedingly smooth with a crisp, full finish that’s all about pine. This full-bodied, strong gin leaves a lasting impression and is our go-to gin for mixing with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water garnished with orange peel and coriander.
R549 from all good bottle stores