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a list (yes, just like any list). no four pillars? mind you, my mates having sold half the company to Lion for untold squillions won't care. 


The Best Gin at Any Price

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Posted on Oct 24, 2018

Slide 1 (photo illustration: Laura Sant)

You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.

Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state. And we have included a genever.

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1: Aviation ($33)


“Two words: Ryan Reynolds. Three more words: Warm gin shots. In all honesty, I have loved this gin since it came out. It's on my well. It’s savory and spicy, a spirit after my own heart.”—Amie Ward, beverage director at San Francisco's R Bar

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2: Barr Hill Tom Cat ($53)


“This is the gin to get your whiskey drinkers converted. They barrel-age in old whiskey barrels and add a touch of raw honey, making this gin a barrel-aged Old Tom. I love this gin served over a big rock or as an Old Fashioned. You can't go wrong with this gin.”—Megan Daniel, bar manager at San Francisco's Whitechapel

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3: Beefeater ($26)


“Citrus and juniper notes are equally balanced. The bottle is nicely shaped and sized for the wall, in the well or in storage on its side.”—Lucinda Sterling, managing partner and bartender at New York City's Middle Branch

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4: Bimini ($31)


“This is one of the best gins on the market for citrusy drinks, and the botanical selection (including hops and grapefruit) and process the distiller uses (the spirit is unfiltered and very full-bodied) makes this a truly memorable gin.”—Chaim Dauermann, co-owner at New York City's Stay Gold

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5: Bloom ($30)


“When Joanne Moore stepped up to be the seventh distiller for Greenall’s gin, she wanted to change the way the brand was perceived. My favorite of her creations is Bloom, which is evocative of a field in spring given its grassiness and playful floral notes. While gentle and feminine, there’s a bounty of complexity in its seven ingredients that have me coming back for more. Her voice is soft but intriguing, so do not speak over it with strong ingredients. Indeed, it pairs perfectly with blanc or dry vermouth in a classic Martini for when a calming elixir is desired.”—Frederic Yarm, author and blogger at Cocktail Virgin

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6: Bols (Genever, $35)


“If you’re looking for the mother of all gins, you should pick up a bottle of genever. I suggest you grab a bottle of unaged Bols. This genever is perfectly maulty and plays wonderfully with citrus as well as a spirit-forward cocktail or neat. I recommend a genever Collins.”—Megan Daniel, bar manager at San Francisco's Whitechapel

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7: Bombay Sapphire East ($29)


“Two additional flavors—Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black pepper corn—bring a little extra Asian touch, perfect for my style of mixology.”—Hemant Pathak, bartender and bar manager at New York City's Junoon

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8: The Botanist ($36)


“Thirty-one botanicals—that's right, 31. Twenty-two of those are locally foraged in Islay. This complex and beautiful gin will always be one of my favorites. It’s amazing in a French 75.”—Mindy Magers, general manager at Oklahoma City’s Pritchard

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“It makes a great gin on the rocks, with loads of saffron.”—Adam Fortuna, assistant general manager and sommelier at Grand Rapids, Mich.'s Reserve Wine & Food

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10: Death's Door ($31)


“If I could have only one gin behind the bar to work with, Death’s Door gin would be it—unabashedly good in a G&T or Last Word and even by itself in a classic Martini, with hints of fennel, coriander and juniper. This is an outstanding product from Wisconsin whose distiller is trained and an exceptional chef. That experience presents itself in this bottle.”—Joseph Pereira, bartender at Las Vegas' Electra

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“This gin makes a great Vesper, and also pairs well with an elderflower tonic for a G&T. We're seeing more and more new stylistic entries to the gin category, and that's exciting.”—Chall Gray, co-owner at Asheville, N.C.'s Little Jumbo

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12: Edinburgh Cannonball ($42)


“I believe every spirit collection should have something angry or punchy, and this Scottish distillery’s offering achieves that in an elegant way. Besides a higher proof at 114, Edinburgh uses double its normal amount of juniper and synergizes the piney effect by way of Szechuan peppercorns. A third ingredient is lemon peel that helps to draw out the limonene compound found in both juniper and the peppercorns to make for a solid citrus backbone. This gin shines in Gin & Tonics and in cocktail recipes where gin is a minority component, such as in a Negroni.”—Yarm

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13: Ferdinand's Saar ($53)


“The number of new gins available is dizzying. Ferdinand's Saar is infused with German riesling, which gives it some wonderful fruit notes and a buoyant quality. Try it in a long drink.”—Franky Marshall, bartender and beverage director at New York City's Le Boudoir

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14: Gin Mare ($40)


“It has a fragrant nose, with rosemary and olive among the botanicals. My favorite G&T is Gin Mare with a few drops of celery bitters and orange peel.”—Mike Strohm, lead bartender at Kansas City, Mo.'s The W

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15: Golden Moon ($42)


“It’s a perfect arrangement of juniper, lavender, soft spice, summer herbs and crisp citrus.”—Joshua-Peter Smith, bar director at San Francisco's Mourad

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16: Mahón ($45)


“There’s too much cool for one gin here, so much that it has its own appellation, using 200-year-old wood-fired copper pot stills, grapes for the base spirit and mostly wild juniper that's rested for about two years. Do yourself a favor and try this in your next G&T with some Fever-Tree tonic and lime.”—Jordan Joseph, bar manager at Raleigh, N.C.'s Centro and Gallo Pelón

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“Martin Miller’s already makes one of the world premier gins. With Westbourne, you have even less dilution, more flavor and an incredible Spanish-style G&T.”—Nathaniel David Smith, bartender at St. Paul, Minn.’s Hodges Bend and ambassador for Teeling Irish whiskey

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18: Monkey 47 ($41)


“The unique botanicals in this gin really make it stand out. The first time I got a bottle (years ago), which a friend had to bring back from Germany, I never even made a cocktail with it—only sipped it neat.”—Gray

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19: Neversink ($45)


“New York state apples are distilled to make the base for this gin. It’s fruity, crisp and balanced.”—Dauermann

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20: Nikka Coffey ($48)


“Citrus, pepper, a little bit bitter—it’s my pick for a Negroni.”—Strohm

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21: Plymouth ($41)


“If you’re not drinking a Martini with Plymouth when available, you’re missing out. There are few things more calming than splitting a Plymouth Martini midshift on a Friday night with your fellow bartender to remind you of calmer moments.”—Max Green, owner of and head bartender at New York City's Blue Quarter and Windmill

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“This beautiful gin distilled in Argentina is rather quirky yet well-balanced. Besides the juniper, there’s pink grapefruit, yerba mate tea, peperina (an indigenous peppermint) and eucalyptus. The flavors each shine through well here in an unmuddled way, and the botanical combination provides a great sense of South American terroir. Overall, the gin makes a unique and memorable Martini and does wonders in a Gin & Tonic, especially when garnished with a grapefruit slice and mint sprig.”—Yarm

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23: Sipsmith ($37)


“Sipsmith is a great gin to get if you’re looking for a London dry. It’s extremely smooth and makes a wonderful Martini but also has enough backbone to stand up in citrusy cocktails.”—Daniel

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24: St. George Terroir ($40)


“It has loads of herbaceous flavors and makes a very cool Alaska cocktail.”—Fortuna

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25: Tanqueray Malacca ($40)


“This was a limited release back in 2013, has lots of citrus notes and is a personal favorite. I'm excited that Tanqueray has reintroduced it. Hopefully, it's here to stay this time.”—Gray

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26: Tanqueray No. Ten ($33)


“It’s phenomenal neat, on the rocks, with tonic and in making the best Martini possible.”—Smith

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27: Townshend's ($32)


“Everyone has that friend that loves vodka and proclaims to hate gin. This is the game changer. Townshend's is distilled with jasmine green tea, lavender, chamomile and juniper. This produces a very light and even refreshing style of gin. It also blends exceptionally well in cocktails for a smooth result.”—Magers

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28: Woody Creek Colorado ($36)


“Potatoes make a great distillate, and using it as the base for this gin helps it a great deal toward being one of the best new American gins on the market. This is versatile, unique and truly delicious.”—Dauermann

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Great list! Beefeater, Terroir, and Plymouth are all staples in my home bar. I gotta track down a bottle of that Mahon now, it sounds wonderful. I’m surprised not to see Junipero make the cut, but I guess it’s not as exciting as it once was. I’d add Jack Rabbit to the list because of its use of rose and sage. It’s delicious in a martini or neat. 

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  • 2 months later...

Found a bottle of the 2017 Bloody Chiraz. Superb. Quaffed it all so that’s another item to add to my list of “love it but can’t get it” alongside SLR DC’s and some Japanese malts, 😡

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