15 Gin Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

The world of gin is vast and wondrous. From the spirit's early days as a Dutch medicinal beverage to its explosion in popularity in the U.K., and eventually the U.S. and the world, this juniper-infused distillate has been the tipple of choice of many drinkers for centuries. There are so many different gins on the market these days, and thanks to the modern craft cocktail movement, there doesn't seem to be any limit to new creative gin styles. Shopping for gin can therefore be an overwhelming experience, especially if you're just jumping into it.

Here to help you navigate this constellation of gin is this list of some of the best-known brands, ranked from least impressive to most exceptional. A lot of criteria were considered for these rankings -– the main thrusts were quality for the price, versatility alone and in cocktails, and whether the gin stands out from the crowd. Rankings aside, each gin mentioned here has its suitable uses and its fanbase, so be sure to give them all a sip if you have the opportunity. The only way to find your personal favorite is to try them all.

15. Gordon's

Gordon's gin is about as classic as it gets, and it's wallet-friendly, too. It's labeled as a London dry gin, which doesn't actually designate that it comes from London but does mean it's made in a particular style. London dry gins are crafted from a neutral base spirit and enhanced with only natural botanicals that must be added during distillation. Juniper is the main flavoring ingredient in London dry gins, and Gordon's takes that note and runs with it -– this is arguably the most juniper-heavy gin on the list.

While juniper is the predominant flavor, background notes of spice and citrus add a bit more flavor. However, Gordon's lacks the layered complexity of many other gins, and those more muted flavors and aromas tend to get lost when the gin is mixed into cocktails. The intense juniper flavor remains no matter what, though, so if that's your taste, it may be the gin for you. Consistent, simple, and inexpensive, Gordon's is a fine gin to have if you're looking for value but not one to elicit too much excitement.

14. Tanqueray

Tanqueray is so iconic, the brand is nearly synonymous with gin. The stout, green bottle is instantly recognizable and graces bars around the world. Classic Tanqueray is made in a traditional London dry style, boasting an intense juniper-forward character buoyed by some bright citrusy notes and a bit of spice in the background. Not a shy gin, Tanqueray London dry gin shows off its alcohol with muscular body and a hot finish, which makes it rather intimidating to sip on its own but gives it strength of character when diluted and mixed into cocktails.

The London dry iteration of Tanqueray is certainly enduring and well-loved by fans of the style, but it can strike the palate as blowsy and unbalanced. It makes a strong gin and tonic, as its burly juniper flavor stands shoulder-to-shoulder with bitter quinine, and even as the ice melts it maintains its intensity. It's not the best choice for delicate, intricate cocktails or for sipping on its own, but it's a solid contender for lovers of classic, simple gin drinks. Tanqueray No. 10 is a somewhat more elegant — and more expensive — version of this gin, with a stronger bright citrus component that balances out the juniper. 

13. Bombay

Bombay Sapphire's unmistakable ice blue bottle makes it stand out from the others on first sight — it almost looks like its namesake shimmering jewel on a bar shelf. The gin itself has a lightness and elegance to it that matches its packaging. While it is a London dry-style gin, the juniper flavor is milder than many of its brethren, given just about equal billing with the citrus and spice botanicals. This makes it a fantastic introductory London dry gin for people who may not enjoy over-the-top juniper flavor.

There are other styles of Bombay to seek out besides Sapphire, like Bombay Dry, which is a very affordable bottle and a great workhorse gin that's a little more juniper-driven. Both Dry and Sapphire are excellent martini gins, as their understated flavors play well with most vermouths and don't cause any clashes like some more aggressive-tasting gins might. Bombay gins may not break any new ground, but they're solid gins and all-around good values.

12. Fords

If you order a well gin drink in a quality bar anywhere in the world, there's a decent chance that gin is going to be Fords. This spirit was specifically designed to be the ideal London dry gin for cocktailing, with each element carefully crafted for bartending ease, including an ergonomic bottle that's easy to grasp and won't slip out of your hands. It even has measuring lines along one side so you can precisely see how much you're pouring. There are nine botanicals used to flavor Fords, all classic gin ingredients, nothing gimmicky or out of left field — juniper and citrus, flowers, herbs, and roots are all present and well-balanced.

It may not blow your mind on its own, but Fords shines in a wide variety of cocktails, as designed. Its balanced botanical character stays strong when mixed with other ingredients, but doesn't overwhelm them. Try it in a Bee's Knees with lemon and honey, and you'll appreciate how it enhances the citrus and sweetness perfectly. Another bonus — it's a very affordable gin. This is the bottle to reach for when you're messing around with mixology experiments and don't want to break the bank. A true industry favorite.

11. Beefeater

A solid classic, Beefeater London dry gin is made with nine botanicals, with a focus on juniper and citrus. Unlike most of the other big commercial London dry gins, it's actually made in London and celebrates that fact with the jaunty red-clad Yeoman Warder who graces the front of its bottles, representing the guards that protect the Tower of London. Between the straightforward flavor, history, and packaging, Beefeater gives off a charmingly authentic, old-school London character.

Depending on your region, the alcohol content of Beefeater varies, landing somewhere in the range of 40 to 50%. The higher-alcohol options are generally best for cocktails, as the gin stays potent when mixed and diluted. The lower-proof Beefeater bottlings will have a more subtle presence in drinks, which some may prefer. Of the big-name classic London dry brands, Beefeater is arguably the best value, giving a textbook flavor profile and good mixability at a modest price.

10. Uncle Val's

Uncle Val's creates a family of gins, each with their own unique character. If you're lucky enough to have all four styles on hand, you can select a gin to suit your mood. Feeling energized? Pour some of Uncle Val's Zested Gin, which has a lively, sharp citrus flavor. Want to spice things up? Uncle Val's Peppered Gin brims with savory heat from bell pepper, black pepper, and pimento. There are also Botanical and Restorative gins, both of which feature the freshness of cucumber, as well as delightful floral perfumes.

There is a juniper component to all of Uncle Val's gins, but it serves as more of an accent than the main ingredient, which isn't uncommon in modern-style gins. All of Uncle Val's iterations are balanced and full of intriguing flavor combinations that make them stand out from the crowd. They're fun to drink and experiment with, although they're not super cheap, so you probably don't want to go too crazy. The Peppered gin is tailor-made for savory cocktails like a Spicy Bloody Mary.

9. Junipero

Started in 1996 in San Francisco, Junipero is credited with kicking off the craft gin craze in the U.S. Inspired by the classic London dry style, it is — as you might guess from the name — a juniper-forward gin, but it boasts plenty of other flavors and aromas as well, including warm spices like cardamom and cubeb pepper. It's a great meld of traditional and modern sensibilities, keeping true to its roots while forging its own identity.

Junipero is bottled strong, at nearly 100 proof, which gives cocktails quite a kick, but it's crafted in such a way that the intensity doesn't seem out of balance. It packs a lot of flavor in addition to its heat, so it doesn't get lost in drinks with other strong ingredients. It's just as at home in a dry martini as it is in a modern concoction like the Corpse Reviver #2. It's mid-range in price, and you do get a lot of bang for your buck.

8. Barr Hill

From Caledonia Spirits in Vermont, Barr Hill Gin is in a category all its own. Created by a distiller and a beekeeper, it has some similarities to the Old Tom style of gin, which is rounder and sweeter than London dry. That's because Barr Hill adds raw honey to its juniper-forward gin, just enough to give the spirit a lusciously rich texture while maintaining its spirituous potency. The honey's complexity adds layers of botanical flavor and aroma on top of the juniper, lending the gin herbal and floral notes that shift throughout the seasons depending on what the bees are feeding on.

Hand-crafting spirits with local honey is an intricate and expensive process, and the price of Barr Hill Gin reflects that. It's such a unique product, though, that you shouldn't hesitate to treat yourself to this gin experience if you have the chance. It's a delightful gin to enjoy on the rocks or straight up on its own. When mixing into cocktails, it adds an opulent texture which is unmatched by any other gin. Its inherent sweetness may require some adjustments to other cocktail ingredients to keep things balanced. It makes a beautiful base for a sparkling, citrusy French 75.

7. St. George

St. George Spirits started distilling in 1982, making brandies from a variety of local California fruits. Almost 30 years and many spirits later, the company released a trio of gins: Botanivore, Terroir, and Dry Rye. Each of these three gins has a distinct personality, showcasing wildly different flavor profiles, so no matter what style of gin you prefer, you're likely to find one that's up your alley. Each is exceptionally well-crafted and unique.

St. George's Botanivore gin is stunningly herbaceous and fresh, while the Terroir is reminiscent of a coastal pine forest. The Dry Rye gin is brimming with juniper and spice and tastes similar to Dutch genever, Scandinavian aquavit, or even whiskey with its rich and flavorful base spirit. St. George now also makes a Dry Rye Reposado, which is aged in wood barrels for even more of a whiskey-esque quality. These gins are spectacular, and their quality and price are nicely matched.

6. Sipsmith

Sipsmith makes its gin in such small batches that the business actually had to petition to change the law in order to get a commercial license to do it. This London-based distillery has grown since it started making gin in 2009 but still crafts its spirits with the same care, and it's evident in their balance and quality.

Sipsmith's London dry style is relatively light and boasts a classic citrus and juniper profile, with balance and elegance that give it a sleek, modern feel. Sipsmith also makes a powerful navy-strength gin called V.J.O.P. (Very Junipery Over Proof), which clocks in at almost 120 proof. Drink this gin on its own at your peril -– it's made to shine in cocktails and works particularly well in punches with lots of other flavors and dilution to help balance it out, like this Firework Party Punch. Sipsmith makes other styles, too, like summery Strawberry Smash Gin and bright, zesty Lemon Drizzle Gin. Sipsmith's bottles aren't on the cheap side, but their quality is enough to justify the cost.

5. Hayman's

Family-run distillery Hayman's of London makes several different styles of gin that range from traditional to innovative. Hayman's London dry gin is a textbook example of the style featuring the familiar juniper and citrus-driven character, and its Royal Dock Navy Strength gin takes that same flavor profile and amps it up with a well over 100-proof base spirit. Both of these gins are excellent in their categories, but the Hayman's product that truly shines is Old Tom.

Old Tom gin is a style that was popular in centuries past, when distilling was less precise than it is now, and unpalatable spirits often contained additives to make them easier to drink. In the 19th century, some gins were sweetened with a little sugar to soften their rough edges, and this became known as the Old Tom style. Hayman's Old Tom is pleasantly balanced, and the subtle sweetness is barely noticeable except in its texture, which is full-bodied and rich on the palate. It's fabulous in just about any gin cocktail thanks to this characteristic, especially in classic drinks like the Martinez, which specifically calls for Old Tom. Hayman's gins are also reasonably priced for their quality.

4. Four Pillars

Based in Australia, Four Pillars is an exciting, dynamic gin brand that's crafting some of the most intriguing and fun spirits you can find on the market right now. The brand's flagship bottle is the Rare Dry gin, an impeccably balanced and flavor-packed gin that's more citrus-driven than a traditional London dry. Whole oranges are included in the distillation process, which contribute a fresh, juicy flavor that's truly unique. There's plenty of spice in the mix, too, which gives the Rare Dry a warmness that counterbalances the zesty fruit notes. Juniper is a background player here but still adds enough to give it that signature gin feel.

Four Pillars' Navy Strength gin is one of the best around in that category, bottled at an aggressive 117 proof that somehow doesn't seem out of balance. Boldly spiced with ingredients like fresh ginger and turmeric, it has a culinary feel to it, and blends well with sweet, citrusy, and savory flavors. Both the Rare Dry and the Navy Strength are well worth seeking out, even though they can range into the pricier end of the spectrum. Four Pillars makes other unique styles to keep an eye out for, like Olive Leaf, a gin crafted with olive oil and dried olive leaves, which makes a spectacularly savory martini.

3. Hendrick's

Hendrick's gin may seem ubiquitous these days, but when it was released at the end of the 20th century, it was a game changer. Its unique distillation method is part of what makes it one-of-a-kind: Two stills are used, one that macerates botanicals to create a more intense spirit, and another that uses a basket to gently treat more delicate ingredients. The resulting two distillates are then blended and infused with rose and cucumber to give the gin its final flavor profile. The final spirit is floral and fresh yet doesn't completely shy away from its classic juniper gin roots, especially on the palate.

When Hendrick's splashed onto the scene, there weren't a lot of unusual crafty gins on the market. It's got a lot more competition these days, but there's still nothing quite like it. While its distinct aromatic and flavor profile can limit it somewhat as far as cocktails go, it's still good in so many things that it's hard to ding it for that — but be aware that the intense rose aromas can clash with certain ingredients. It makes a great martini, a refreshing gin and tonic (especially when garnished with fresh cucumber), a deliciously bright gimlet, and a stand-out Negroni.

2. Martin Miller's

A tale of two countries, Martin Miller's gin is unusual in a few ways. First, in England, the botanical ingredients are separated into two groups and distilled individually, one batch with citrus and the other with juniper and other intense roots and spices. This keeps the flavors pure while allowing the distiller better control over each ingredient. Once the batches are blended, the gin is sent to Iceland, where it's diluted to bottling strength using fresh water that is supposedly purified on its journey through ancient volcanic rock.

Whether you believe that story or not, there's no denying that both Martin Miller's regular-strength and Westbourne-strength gins have a distinctive clean, crisp character. There's an invigorating and refreshing quality that's hard to pinpoint — maybe it's the magic Icelandic water along with the bright, zesty citrus along with the familiar punch of juniper. Whatever the combination, Martin Miller's gins are at the top when it comes to value, quality, and individuality.

1. Plymouth

The Plymouth gin style is so unique that, for a long time, it was a legally protected product. The producers decided to let that protection lapse when a new regulation came forth that would have required them to make their recipe public knowledge, probably the right move as there is nothing quite like Plymouth. It's made with only seven botanicals, a number on the low side for most gins on this list, but that in no way means it lacks complexity. Each component is perfectly balanced to add its own character while enhancing the others. Juniper and citrus are there, of course, along with a subtle flowery perfume and a pronounced hit of spice.

Plymouth's texture is what really sets it apart. It has a substantial, hefty richness to it without being sweet, making it an ideal cocktail gin with extraordinary versatility. It seems to become smoother and richer when it's mixed in cocktails somehow, and its nuanced and distinctly earthy flavor enhances any ingredient it touches. Its mid-range price is reasonable, too, especially for what you get. If you opt for one gin to meet all your needs, you can't do better than Plymouth.