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Booze banter: Top indie gin brands

We in The Spirits Business editorial team have tried our fair share of gins in our time, but for World Gin Day (11 June), we’ve decided to look to the smaller, independent brands that have left a lasting impression on us.

Gins produced in the Cairngorms of Scotland, bottlings inspired by backpacking travels around Asia, and juniper-based liquid packed with notes of vanilla or tropical notes of yuzu are included in our round-up of best independent gins – these small but mighty producers deserve to be on your radar.

Persie Gin

The perfect bottle for gin and dog lovers alike, this independent distillery is on the site of the former Persie Hotel at the foot of Glenshee in Highland Perthshire. The seven gins in the portfolio are each hand-crafted in small batches, and built to be enjoyed neat, with a variety of mixers, and in cocktails.

Yes, the gin may have come to my attention due to its vague similarity to my surname, but it held it due to its partnership with the Perthshire Abandoned Dogs Society (PADS). The brand has committed to raising funds to rehome unwanted dogs through a series of ‘dog gins’ with £1 from every bottle sold donated to PADS. Each release in the series reflects a different dog breed. I enjoyed the lively characteristics of the Spaniel expression in a beautifully bold Martini, garnished with a pickle for a bit of extra bite.

Georgie Pursey, digital editor

Three Rivers Gin

Blink and you’ll miss it: this gin derives from Manchester’s first ever city centre gin distillery, The City of Manchester Distillery, which is hidden on a back road and seemingly disguised as a warehouse when closed. The bespoke gin boasts a slighter sweeter palate of vanilla and cinnamon.

Personally, I believe it’s best served a few doors down at homemade pasta restaurant Sparrows, which serves up the liquid in house cocktails such as Ode-to-Ume (Three Rivers Gin, plum bitters, apple, umeshu).

Alice Brooker, staff writer

Shortcross Gin

One of my go-to gins is Shortcross Gin from Northern Ireland’s Rademon Estate Distillery, a classic London Dry gin with lovely buttery and floral notes.

The gin combines botanicals such as fresh apple, elderberry and wild clover, as well as juniper, coriander, orange peel, lemon peel and cassia. Try it neat with some ice and it’s wonderfully aromatic and smooth, or pair it with elderflower tonic and a mint sprig.

The brand’s Citrus Drizzle Gin is equally delightful, with its zesty fruits and berry notes. The gin features oranges, lemons and grapefruits that have been distilled together with apples, pears and blackberries.

Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor

Tarsier Khao San Gin

It may have been over a decade since I went on my ‘Gap Year’, but sipping on the Khao San Gin from Tarsier’s Backpacker Series transports me straight back to the warm beaches and buzzing markets of South East Asia (minus the Amphetamine-laced buckets of cheap booze more commonly associated with the traveller’s hub).

Just like the busy, neon-lit streets of Bangkok, this gin takes over the senses with bold washes of Thai red chilli and fragrant lemongrass. It’s a true testament to the excitement of backpacking, bringing notes of adventure with the carefully selected botanicals. For me, it works best with a splash of ginger ale to really boost the spice levels, topped with a squeeze of fresh lime and a garnish of chilli.

Georgie Pursey, digital editor

Isle of Raasay Gin

Raasay Gin Booze Banter

Although commonly known for its whisky, a go-to gin of mine has to be Isle of Raasay’s. Hand-crafted on the tiny Hebridean island of Raasay, the gin is the perfect addition to my ‘classic with a twist’ G&Ts (gin, tonic, and a garnish of grounded pepper, basil spring and slice of orange) or my Hugo cocktails (Prosecco, gin, elderflower cordial, soda water, mint sprig and lime for garnish).

It’s a dry and zesty gin, and being from an island containing approximately 161 residents, there’s something especially unique about the product. It’s actually known to be ‘first legal spirit from an island rooted in centuries of illicit distilling’ too.

Alice Brooker, staff writer

Yuzu Gin

If you’re a fan of yuzu like me then you’ll enjoy this citrus-forward bottling from Japanese producer Kyoya Shuzo, known for its shōchūs. The expression uses a base of sweet potato shōchū and a selection of botanicals such as yuzu and hyuganatsu citrus fruits, juniper, and sansho pepper.

With hints of lemon and grapefruit, the gin works incredibly well in a G&T or in cocktails such as Negroni. It also makes for a very refreshing Highball with soda water.

Packing a bright citrus explosion on the palate, the gin’s mouthfeel is long and creamy with a touch of spiciness.

Japanese gins are exploding in popularity due to their high quality and if you’re looking for more from the region, try Ki No Bi’s excellent range.

Nicola Carruthers, deputy editor

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