Gin Prices, Brands & Buying Guide

Author: Nick Lappen

Updated:

Gin is a juniper-flavored spirit that has seen a massive growth in popularity over the last 15-20 years. The production process involves infusing botanicals into neutral alcohol to create a flavored alcoholic product. While gin can be produced all over the world, it is famously associated with England. It has its roots in Dutch Genever and other European juniper spirits. 

Gin Brands’ Prices

Price RankBrandBottle SizePrices
1Tanqueray750ml$19.98 - $45.99
2Bombay Sapphire750ml$16.99 - $42.8

Factors that Affect Gin Prices

The price of gin is affected by numerous factors depending on your location. Gin is one of the least expensive spirits to produce, and because of this, it has traditionally been cheaper than whiskey or brandy. However, the price may be increased if the gin is from abroad and is subject to import tax and shipping costs. Luckily, many small-batch craft distillers all over the USA are making their own gin. It should not be hard to find a distillery within driving distance of your home that is making its own gin. While many of the gin giants like Bombay, Beefeater, and Tanquary make a quality product at an affordable price, small craft distilleries may look to charge a premium. Whether their product is worth it is a hit or miss situation, though, as with so many options, some are bound to be overpriced.

How to Drink Gin?

Gin on cocktail

While many aficionados and gin fans enjoy drinking gin neat, that can be a difficult way to get into drinking gin. Luckily, there are many gin cocktails that are easy to make and delicious. The top three cocktails to try first with any new gin are the martini, a gin and tonic, and a gimlet. After that, it’s easy to branch out into other classic gin drinks or to try and make up your own.

Where and How is Gin Made?

Gin can be made anywhere in the world. There is no legal restriction on where gin can be made. However, a handful of locations have regional gin styles that are protected and restricted to production in that area. There are gins being made all over the world, and the last few decades have seen an explosion in both the popularity of the spirit and the number of distilleries manufacturing it. In particular, one reason for gin’s boom in popularity is that it is much easier and less time-consuming to manufacture than other spirits such as rum, whiskey, and tequila. This is for three primary reasons. The first is that gin does not need to be aged, and rarely is, shortening the time it takes to see profit from the production of the spirit compared to whiskey, which must be aged. The second is that gin is most often redistilled from neutral grain distillate, and most gin distilleries simply buy neutral grain distillate and redistill it with their chosen botanicals. The third reason is that compound gin is incredibly cheap and easy to make and requires no investment in a still. 

At its most basic, gin production involves redistilling a neutral grain spirit with chosen botanicals to impart flavor to the distillate. The source of this neutral distillate can be from the distillery producing the gin, but in many instances, it is simply more affordable and expedient for distilleries to purchase neutral grain spirit from a third party and then make it into gin. 

They do this through three primary methods or a combination of the three. The first is maceration, in which the distiller soaks botanicals in high-proof grain spirit prior to distillation. The second is vapor infusion, which is done by hanging a gin basket or gin net inside the neck of the still. The baskets are full of botanicals, and as the hot alcohol vapors rise through the neck of the still, they extract the oils and essences of the botanicals. With either of these first two methods, distillers can infuse all the botanicals at once, or do multiple distillations of individual botanicals and then blend the botanical infusions to their preference. These two methods are the primary ways gin is produced in the modern era.

The third method is through compound gin. Compound gin is the easiest type of gin to make. It is made by taking a neutral grain spirit and mixing it with flavor extracts, essences, oils, etc. Using this method, you can create gin without ever needing to use a still. These gins are often thought of as low quality because they are seen as taking a shortcut to what is already a fairly straightforward production process and relying on artificial and “natural” flavoring.

Modern gin producers can use any one of these methods, or combine parts of multiple methods. For example, many distillers macerate botanicals in neutral spirit and then distill that spirit in a still that has a gin basket full of the same, or different, botanicals to increase the potency of the botanical flavors. Other manufacturers may adjust their distilled products post distillation with added essences and extracts a la compound gin.

What Affects a Gin’s Taste?

The primary factors affecting the taste and flavor of a gin are the botanicals chosen and the distillation technique. 

While gin must contain juniper as a botanical in almost every circumstance, the other botanicals are not usually controlled by legal requirements, and distillers often choose their own based on availability, tradition, preference, and a desire to experiment. Common botanicals include citrus, almond, cinnamon, orris root, angelica root, cassia bark, nutmeg, coriander, and grains of paradise.

The distillation techniques used to produce gin also have an impact on the final flavors. When distilling, the end product that exits the still is not consistent the whole way through. This is due to different elements of the neutral distillate and botanicals boiling into vapor at different temperatures. This is the case with all distillations, and distillers make what are called “cuts” to the product that comes off the still. Cuts separate the finished distillate into heads, hearts, and tails. The heads and tails are usually recycled, while the hearts are what become the finished product. When and how accurately the distiller makes these cuts can have an impact on how the gin tastes. With sloppy cuts, more heads or tails may make it into the bottle, causing harsh flavors or aftertastes. While this is usually not a problem for most professional gin distillers, it can occasionally be an issue in a climate where everyone and their mother is starting up a gin brand.

Different Regional Styles of Gin

While there are no particularly strong regulations on gin on a global scale, certain countries have criteria which must be met for a product to be called gin. In addition, there are a few specific styles of gin that have their own criteria that must be met in order to be called a gin of that style, such as London Dry Gin.

In the US, gin must be a minimum of 40% ABV and retain a juniper flavor profile. “Distilled Gin” is a specific term that can only be applied to gin that has obtained its flavor through redistillation.

  • London Dry Gin: This style of gin can be made anywhere, not just in London, but it must have a predominant flavor of juniper, be distilled to a minimum of 70% ABV, and have nothing added to it post distillation other than water and sugar, not exceeding 0.1g/liter. It also must derive all its flavor from the redistillation of agriculturally derived neutral grain spirit, which uses either maceration or vapor distillation to infuse the flavor. It may not have added essences or extracts in it. It must be bottled at a minimum strength of 37.5% ABV.
  • Plymouth Gin: Plymouth gin is considered an offshoot of the London Dry style gin, and has a similar flavor profile, with more citrus, sweetness, and earthy notes. These differences in flavor are attributed to a higher proportion of root ingredients in the botanical blend. The style is only made by one brand in the entire world, named Plymouth Gin, which has been distilling this gin since at least 1793. The EU had granted Plymouth gin a geographical indication status, but in 2015, the brand let the protected status lapse because they believed nobody would attempt to replicate the style. In addition to Plymouth Gin, they also make a sloe gin and a navy strength gin.
  • Old Tom Gin: Old Tom gin is an old style of gin which fell out of popularity, but made a resurgence on the back of the modern cocktail movement and the rising popularity of gin. It is a style of gin that is slightly sweeter than London Dry Gin and slightly more dry than Genever. They are often less juniper forward and have softer notes of malt. The name is derived from cat-shaped signs, which were referred to as “old toms” or “tomcats” and were used to mark an early type of speakeasy in England during attempts at gin prohibition in the 18th century. There would be a cat-shaped sign with a crack in the wall and a pipe sticking out underneath it. You would pass your money through the crack in the wall and place your cup under the pipe, where a stream of gin would be poured from the other side of the wall into the pipe, ending up in your cup.
  • Genever: A Dutch precursor to English gins, Genever is technically not a gin and is often made in pot stills and has a more malty, bready flavor with a softer juniper profile. It is protected under the EU and must be made in certain areas.
  • Navy Strength Gin: Navy Strength Gin is a style of gin produced all over the world, and usually bottled at at least 57% ABV. The name and style come from the British Royal Navy. While regular sailors received a ration of rum, gin was usually reserved for the officers’ rations. Due to unscrupulous quartermasters watering down liquor rations, sailors and officers alike often demanded “proof” that the liquor was of proper strength. This was done by soaking a bit of gunpowder in the gin or rum and holding a flame to it. If the spirit had been watered down, the powder would not ignite, but if the spirit was appropriately strong, at 57% abv, the powder would still ignite and the officers and sailors would have proof that they were not being short changed in their rations. Soon, people began referring to gins and rums at this strength as “Navy Strength.”

A Brief History

The roots of gin can be traced to Solerno, Italy, where Benedictine monks were making juniper spirit as early as the 11th century. The spirit was originally medicinal, but people who were otherwise healthy often enjoyed it. In the 1300’s, a juniper spirit called jenever became popular in the Netherlands, and in the late 1500’s, English troops fighting in the Netherlands and Belgium became enamored with Jenever or Genever and dubbed it “Dutch courage” for its ability to calm nerves before battle. They shortened the name from Genever to Gin, brought it back to England, where it quickly took off (albeit with some tweaks to the recipe), and the rest is history. 

Ten Most Popular Cocktails with Gin

  1. Martini- Gin, Dry vermouth, orange bitters, lemon twist or olives. The ultimate gin cocktail. Stirred, not shaken.
  2. Gimlet- Gin, Lime Cordial (Or lime juice and simple syrup) A light and refreshing grown up limeade
  3. Gin and Tonic- Gin…and Tonic. Maybe a splash of lime or a handful of garnish botanicals tossed in. 
  4. Negroni- Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth. The old classic that made a big comeback. Bittersweet and stiff.
  5. Tom Collins- Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water. A refreshing gin highball.
  6. Last Word- Gin, Maraschino, Green Chartreuse, Lime Juice. A herbal equal parts gin sour with a devoted following.
  7. Singapore Sling- Gine, Benedictine, Cherry Heering, lime, pineapple, soda, and, controversially, sometimes grenadine. A tropical gin delight, this cocktail predates the tiki movement and was created in singapore by a chinese bartender. The original recipe has been lost, and current iterations are always under hot debate.
  8. French 75- Gin, Lemon, simple syrup, sparkling wine. This gin and champagne cocktail was originally made with cognac. Try it both ways!
  9. Bee’s Knees- Gin, Lemon, and Honey. A classic with a floral twist from the honey. Great in spring and summer
  10. Gibson- Gin, Dry Vermouth, garnished with a cocktail onion. The superior martini variation. Just make sure you’re getting a quality onion for garnish