Emily's Top 10 Gins Around England

Emily's Top 10 Gins Around England

Is there anything so quintessentially British as a G&T? We may not have invented the spirit (we have the Dutch to thank for that), but we did invent the cocktail - and we sure adopted the drink as our own!

The G&T was born in the British East India Company's army in the 1700's - and we're still drinking it some 300 years later! Tonic water was originally a way to give antimalarial quinine to British soldiers in India - but it tasted gross. So the soldiers started adding gin to the drink - along with lime and sugar - to make it more palatable. Trust a Brit to add booze to make the medicine go down!

Today there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of gin distillers in England. From independent business making small-batch artisanal gins, to large-scale producers that have worldwide names. So I've picked out a few of my favourites, to take you around the country in 10 gins. Some of these distilleries also offer tours, which is a great way to spend an afternoon when you're exploring a new area and the perfect way to learn a little more about my favourite drink.

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Emily Luxton
Travel Blogger
  • Conker
    Spirit Dorset Dry Gin

    Emily Luxton

    My personal favourite English gin also happens to come from my favourite part of the country - my home county of Dorset! Conker Spirit Distillery in Bournemouth was Dorset's first gin distillery, and they've won tons of awards since launching in 2014. Their Dorset Dry Gin is a unique and refreshing take on the classic London Dry - complex, light and not quite so dry as the name suggests. 

    It's also as local as it gets! The gin is distilled from British wheat spirit and New Forest spring water, and is packed with local botanicals sourced from the Dorset Coast and nearby New Forest. Among these are some pretty unique elements that lend a distinctly Dorset note to the gin, including elderberries, marsh samphire and hand-foraged gorse flowers.
  • Beefeater
    London Dry Gin

    Emily Luxton

    There are dozens of gin distilleries in London, but one of the oldest and most famous is Beefeater Gin. First established in 1820, their classic, juniper-led gin has been created using the exact same recipe for over 200 years. Their Kennington distillery at the very heart of London still features original Victorian copper stills - and can be visited for tours and tastings. 

    This is one of the best-kept secrets in London, and it's also a surprisingly reasonable price, so definitely add this to your itinerary next time you're in the Capital! Simple, unfussy, and reasonably priced - Beefeater Gin is a classic, and makes a perfect G&T. The bottles, with an iconic London beefeater on the logo, also make excellent souvenirs if you're visiting England from overseas!
  • Bombay Sapphire
    Distilled London Dry Gin

    Emily Luxton

    Bombay Sapphire is another classic English gin, one which is known all over the world. This is my go-to drink at the pub, because it's such a fresh, easy-drinking gin. It's also made in Hampshire, where I went to uni and spent some of the best years of my life! Their Laverstoke Mill Distillery in Whitchurch is only 60 miles from London and makes a brilliant day out. 

    Although a well-known English gin, Bombay Sapphire is known for its exceptionally smooth flavour thanks to the range of botanicals drawn from around the world. Ingredients like liquorice from China, lemon peel from Spain, and Cubeb berries from Java are vapour-infused (instead of the traditional boiling method) for a smooth and complex flavour. The red brick distillery is a must-see for any gin lover.
  • Silent Pool
    Super Premium Gin

    Emily Luxton

    Set in a unique location on the Duke of Northumberland’s Albury Estate in the Surrey North Downs, Silent Pool is named after the stunning lake on whose banks their distillery sits - and from which they take the water to make their award-winning gin. 

    This is another English gin that's as local as possible. Among the 24 botanicals, you'll find several local flavours, including chamomile, lavender and local honey. I'll be honest, I was first drawn to this gin by its stunning aqua and gold bottles! These are so beautiful that they've also been adapted into matching gin glasses and scented candles. But thankfully, this amazing artisanal gin tastes every bit as good as it looks!
  • Forest
    Forest Gin

    Emily Luxton

    We're heading up towards the North now for a taste of the Peak District! Forest Gin is made in a small, independent distillery housed in a 17th-century barn nestled within the Peak District's Macclesfield Forest.

    It's owned by the Bond Family, who pride themselves on their small-scale production, which is still done using pestle & mortars and tiny pot stills, just as it was when they first began experimenting from their kitchen table! Forest Gin comes in beautiful Staffordshire Porcelain bottles - decorated with a unique papercut from British artist Suzy Taylor, making it a PERFECT gift. 

    It's also packed with locally-foraged botanicals, including wild bilberries, raspberries, and local moss. And this is apparently the only gin ever to have been awarded two separate Double-Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards - so clearly the team at Forest Gin are doing something right.
  • The Lakes
    Classic English Dry Gin

    Emily Luxton

    The Lakes Distillery, just outside of Keswick, is a must-visit if you're on holiday in the Lakes District National Park. Although they're perhaps better known for their whiskies, The Lakes Distillery also produce a stunning range of gins - which again come served in bottles almost too beautiful to open! 

    Their classic English gin is distilled using pure Cumbrian water from the River Derwent, and it's a true taste of the Lakes. 

    Even the juniper is local to Cumbria, while many of the other botanicals are locally foraged - including bilberry, heather, hawthorn, mint and meadowsweet. I love how smooth this gin is, and beneath the strong punch of local juniper, there's a zesty, peppery finish that makes for a dreamy G&T.
  • Newcastle Gin

    Emily Luxton

    I discovered Newcastle Gin thanks to a local friend, and love their bright purple rhubarb and ginger gin. But it's their original London dry gin that you need to try first - especially because it won a gold medal at the 2020 world gin awards! The Newcastle Gin Co is the city's first commercial distillery in over 200 years, but they're already making a big splash on the gin scene. 

    You can visit for a tour and tasting, and a peek into the still room which sits nestled up against Newcastle's ancient city walls. The gin itself is light, floral, and absolutely lovely. It's made from Newcastle City water and infused with nine botanicals, including juniper, sumac, orange peel, Iranian hibiscus, rose petal, coriander and three top-secret ingredients.
  • Poetic Licence
    Northern Dry Gin

    Emily Luxton

    Just down the road from Newcastle, along the coast of Roker in Sunderland, the Poetic License Distillery is another rising star on the Northern gin scene. Their fabulous Poetic License Northern Dry Gin has been awarded three stars by the 2021 Great Taste awards. 

    This is a bold, punchy gin with a gorgeous black and gold bottle to match. It's known for its warm, spicy flavour with a citrus twist thanks to a mix of cardamom, Persian lime, lemon, and eucalyptus - as well as a few top-secret botanicals they won't tell us about! But my personal favourite is their Strawberry & Cream Gin, which is PERFECT with a picnic on a summers day.
  • Manchester Gin
    Wild Spirit Gin

    Emily Luxton

    Over in the northwest of England, the signature drink from Manchester Gin is one of the most awarded gins in the country! The Spirit of Manchester Distillery is tucked beneath six railway arches in the historic centre of the city. You can visit the state-of-the-art distillery on a tour, or pop by their gorgeous on-site cocktail bar, Three Little Words, for an intimate drink. 

    The whole range is inspired by Manchester and the surrounding area, and many of the botanicals are local ingredients. Like local dandelion and burdock root in the Signature gin, which also incorporates lots of citrus notes, liquorice, and almonds. 

    For something a little different, there's also the more savoury gin Wild Spirit, which was inspired by the woodland walks around Manchester. It's packed with local herbs like sage, thyme, orris, lemon balm and silver birch and has a really unique, earthy flavour.
  • Plymouth Gin
    Navy Strength Dry Gin

    Emily Luxton

    Last up, we go back down south for a taste of Plymouth Gin, which is another of my personal favourite brands. I usually stick to their original blend, which is known as a very classic, traditional and juniper-led gin and makes a great G&T. But I thought I'd include the Naval Strength gin on this list because Plymouth Gin's history is intrinsically tied to the Royal Navy. 

    For nearly two hundred years, no Royal Navy ship left port without a store of the Navy Strength Plymouth Gin on board. It was even a tradition that all new vessels received a 'Plymouth Gin Commissioning Kit' with two bottles of the stuff. 

    This historic gin is still being made today at Black Friars, England’s oldest working distillery. There's so much history behind this brand, so it's a great one to finish off our journey through English gins! But if you can't face the 57% proof Naval Strength, you can always stick to the rich and smooth original Plymouth Gin instead!

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