Gin has been around since the 17th century, when it was invented by a Dutch physician and promoted as a cure for whatever may ail you. Since then it has gone through periods of popularity and decline. When the James Bond films first came out it was all the rage, as everyone suddenly ordered their Martinis “shaken, not stirred” (contrary to popular belief, Bond was a fan of gin rather than vodka). Gin’s image waned during the 1970s and 1980s, only to shine brightly again when the cocktail culture boomed.
Here are a few of the small batch gins attracting attention today:
Hendrick’s ($30): “Small batch” typically means a distillation run of 1000 liters, but Hendricks makes 450 at a time—in Scotland, an area not known for gin production. The company uses two rare stills dating from 1860 and 1948, and infuses the spirit with rose petals and cucumber to impart its unique taste.
Aviation ($30): Located in Portland, Oregon, Aviation is the creation of Ryan Magarian and Christian Krogstad, who proclaim to have created a distinct style—New Western Dry Gin. Placing less emphasis on juniper, the partners allow the other botanicals to play a larger role, thereby producing a lighter and more balanced spirit.
Bluecoat ($28): Produced by Philadelphia Distilling, which also makes vodka and absinthe, this American Dry Gin is made in small quantities in a copper pot still. The key to the flavor is the use of organic citrus peels, which gives the spirit a refreshing flavor.
Other noteworthy boutique gins include Bulldog ($27), from the U.K., which is “quadrupled distilled, triple filtered, and infused with the taste and aromas of its twelve selected botanicals”; No. 209 ($40) and Junipero ($32), both made in San Francisco; and Leopold Brothers ($40), produced by Todd and Scott Leopold in Denver, which was called “the best American Gin’ by the Wall Street Journal in 2009. Any of these distinctive spirits spice up a memorable Martini or amplify the flavors of your favorite cocktail.