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Best and worst gin advent calendars revealed

Ranging in price from £50 up to £150, we reveal whether it's worth paying for a gin advent calendar this Christmas

Best and worst gin advent calendars revealed

We’ve tested five popular gin advent calendars from Master of Malt, The Boutique-y Gin Company, Notonthehighstreet, Amazon and The Bottle Club.

They range in price from £50 to £150, but which is worth buying?

A good gin advent calendar should be great to look at but also have lots of different high-quality gins to introduce you to new distilleries and flavours that you might not ordinarily have tried.

If a gin advent calendar sounds like the perfect gift for a gin connoisseur in your life, then read on to get our recommendations.

Chocolate more your thing? Take a look at our guide to the best chocolate advent calendars.

The best gin advent calendars

Editor’s Choice: Drinks by the Dram Premium Gin Advent Calendar (2021 edition)

Cheapest price: £84.95 at Master of Malt and Drinks by the Dram. Also available at Amazon.

ABV range: 47.3%-40%.

Total volume of gin: 720ml.

Pros: Gins from all around the world, great variety, premium gins, looks stylish, universal favourite of the panel

Cons: Relatively expensive for a little over a standard bottle of gin (total volume).

Our verdict: This is the best gin advent calendar we tested. Each of our three panellists agreed that this is the most impressive of the five gin calendars.

The packaging looks great, as do the little wax-covered sample bottles that come out of it.

But it wasn’t just the stylish little bottles that appealed. What really swung the panel is the spectacular variety of gins inside.

Of all the calendars we purchased, this one had gin from the most countries and the smallest niche distilleries. If you’re looking to be introduced to new gins that you won’t find in your local supermarket, then this is the advent calendar for you.

The samples in the calendar are typically premium gins, of which you can purchase a whole bottle in the region of £30-£40. Look out for the Jinzu Gin, which was a particular favourite of the panel.

What’s inside: 24 x 30ml waxed-seal gin miniatures: Conker Port Barrel Gin, Herno Juniper Cask Gin, Tobermory Gin, Hendrick’s Lunar Gin, Hendrick’s Original gin, Few Spirits American Gin, Tanqueray Number Ten, Never Never Triple Juniper Gin, Kyro Distillery Company Gin, Hepple Gin, Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin, Ramsbury Spirits Gin, Jinzu Gin, Tanqueray Rangpur Lime, Villa Ascenti Rosa Gin, Sing Gin, Bobby’s Schiedam Dry Gin, Bathtub Gin Old Tom, Four Pillars Olive Leaf Gin, Ableforth’s Bathtub Gin, Berry Bros & Rudd Number Three Gin, That Boutique-y Gin Company Moonshot Gin, Edinburgh Gin Classic, Langley’s Distilled London Gin.

Editor’s Choice: That Boutique-y Gin Company Advent Calendar (2021 Edition)

Cheapest price: £49.95 at Master of Malt, The Whisky Shop and Tastes of Britain and Drinks by the Dram. Also available at Amazon.

ABV range: 56.2%-40%

Total volume of gin: 720ml

Pros: Great selection of mostly UK-based distilleries, packaging looks good, more affordable than our other Editor’s Choice.

Cons: Still expensive for a smidge over a bottle of gin.

Our verdict: An excellent and varied gin selection that’s a little more affordable than our other Editor’s Choice.

While this calendar doesn’t have quite the worldwide range of our other Editor’s Choice, you still get a thorough, mostly UK exploration of many bespoke distilleries that you might not have heard of.

The packaging of the gin looks great and the wax-sealed bottles are very similar to the Master of Malt calendar, although the labels aren’t quite as attractive.

Many of the gins are in the £25-£35 per bottle price range, and there’s a good mix of sweet and dry gins represented in the selection. Our panel particularly enjoyed the Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin, which was delicious, if a little sweet, so it may divide opinion.

We’ve awarded this calendar an Editor’s Choice because it was the second-choice calendar of all of our panel members, and £35 cheaper than the top choice. It’s comfortably a cut above the rest of the calendars we tested, none of which were as popular with our panel.

What’s inside: 24 x 30ml wax sealed gin miniatures: New York Distilling Company Aged Perry’s Tot Gin, Kyro Distillery Bog Gin, That Boutique-y Gin Company Jingle All The Way, That Boutique-y Gin Company Chocolate Cherry Gin, Salcombe Distilling Company Port-Barrelled Pink Gin, Pan Pacific Gin Farallon Gin, American Dry Gin, That Boutique-y Gin Company Honey Pomelo Gin, Conker Spirit Mojito Gin, Moonshot Gin Vacuum Distilled London Dry Gin, Neroli Gin Dry Gin, That Boutique-y Gin Company Smoked Rosemary Gin, Estate Foraged Gin Shortcross Gin, Greensand Ridge Distillery Salt Marsh Gin, Yuzu Gin, Louche Lemon Decadence Gin, Cotswolds Distillery Double-Barrelled Gin, Chilgrove Spirits Bushtucker Gin, Spit-Roasted Pineapple Gin, Chocolate Orange Gin, Cherry Gin, Bash-up Gin, Rhubarb Triangle Gin, 58 Gin Distillery CitroLondon Dry Gin, Blackwater Distillery Monastic Gin.

How the rest fared

The following gin advent calendars didn’t do enough to be awarded an Editor’s Choice. They’re listed alphabetically.

Blue Tree Gin Advent Calendar

Cheapest price: £83.99 at Amazon and ES online.

ABV range: 43.1%-20%.

Total volume of gin: 1,200ml.

Pros: Good variety of gins, nice packaging, 50ml bottles.

Cons: Many of the gins can be purchased in local supermarkets, five cheaper gin liqueurs in the mix.

Our verdict: Disappointing considering the price.

Ultimately, none of our panel decided that they would prefer this calendar over our two Editor’s Choice gin advent calendars.

Some of the gins inside were from distilleries that you’ll be familiar with from your local supermarket, so in terms of expanding your horizons, this calendar didn’t appear to offer as much as others.

The presence of a few cheaper gin liqueurs with much lower ABVs is a bit disappointing considering the cost of the calendar.

What’s inside: 24, 50ml gin samples: Martin Miller’s Gin, Martin Miller’s Winterful Gin, Sipsmith Zesty Orange, Sipsmith London Dry, JJ Whitley Violet Gin, Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Gin, Ginovation Cherry Bakewell Tart Flavoured Gin Liqueur, Greenall’s Wild Berry Gin, Warner’s Rhubarb Gin, Kopparberg Strawberry and Lime Gin, JJ Whitley London Dry, Beefeater Peach and Raspberry Gin, Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Edinburgh Gin Distillery Orange Blossom and Mandarin Liqueur, Hall & Bramley Elderflower Gin, Edinburgh Gin Distillery Plum and Vanilla Liqueur, Tarquin’s British Blackberry Gin, Masons of Yorkshire Pear and Pink Peppercorn Gin, Bombay Bramble Gin, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Edinburgh Gin Distillery Pomegranate and Rose Liqueur, Original Stormtrooper Spirits Deep Spice Gin, Silent Pool Distillers Camomile Gin Cordial, Warner’s Raspberry Gin.

Premium Pink Gin Advent Calendar

Cheapest price: £44.99 available at The Bottle Club (currently sold out).

ABV range: 43%-23%.

Total volume of gin: 600ml.

Pros: 50ml samples, it’s pink.

Cons: Nearly all are sweet gins, expensive for 12 gin samples, most gins are available in local supermarkets.

Our verdict: Expensive gin advent calendar for what it is.

Despite only containing 12 gin samples, this calendar is just as expensive as our Editor’s Choice calendars, which contain 24 gins.

While you might expect this from pink gins, our panel didn’t think this calendar offered the variety of others, as nearly all of the gins were sweet in flavour, which won’t suit everyone’s tastes.

What’s inside: 12 x 50ml gin samples: Coastal Distillery Watermelon, Gordon’s Original Pink Gin, Greenall’s Wild Berry, Coastal Distillery Strawberries and Cream, Liverpool Gin Rose Petal, Chase Rhubarb and Bramley Apple, Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger, Wilkin & Sons English Raspberry Liqueur, Whitley Neill Pink Grapefruit, Chase Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo, Shelly’s Raspberry Ripple Liqueur, Berkshire Botanical Rhubarb and Raspberry.

The Little Boys Room Giant Gin advent calendar

Cheapest price: £144.95 available at Notonthehighstreet.

ABV range: 43%-20%.

Total volume of gin: 1,200ml.

Pros: Looks great on the outside.

Cons: 10 cheaper gin liqueurs inside, very expensive, our calendar had dusty and dirty bottles, lots of duplicates.

Our verdict: Wow on the outside, not so good on the inside.

Our panel were disappointed that this extremely expensive calendar contained no fewer than 10 gin liqueurs, far more than any of the other gin calendars that we tested.

While some might love liqueurs, many would be disappointed to find that so many of the bottles were sugary, low ABV liqueurs, rather than a stiff gin.

We were also disappointed that many of the bottles in the calendar were dusty, and some even had sticky pricing labels on them, which was a bit strange and didn’t match up with the premium price of the calendar.

Unlike the other calendars, this one also had plenty of duplicates, so there are only sixteen different gins in the calendar, rather than a completely new one every day.

That being said, this calendar looks great on the outside and certainly has the wow factor, but we think that’s covering up some shortcuts within.

What’s inside: 24 x 50ml gin samples: The gins include; Edinburgh Gin Distillery Plum and Vanilla Liqueur, Edinburgh Gin Distillery Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur, Edinburgh Gin Distillery Plum and Vanilla Liqueur, Sweet Potato Spirit Company Orange Gin Liqueur, Sweet Potato Gin Company Lavender Gin Liqueur, Sweet Potato Gin Company Raspberry Gin Liqueur, The Lakes Sloe Gin Liqueur, Bramley and Gage 6 O’clock Sloe Gin, Bramley and Gage Organic Sloe Gin, Wilkin & Sons English Rhubarb Gin Liqueur x2, Wilkin & Sons English Strawberry Gin Liqueur x2, Wilkin & Sons English Raspberry Gin Liqueur, Poetic License Distillery Picnic Gin Strawberries and Cream, 6 O’Clock Dansem Gin, The English Drinks Company Cucumber Gin, Poetic License Fireside Gin Mulled Winter Fruit x2, Malfy Blood Orange Gin, Malfy Pink Grapefruit Gin, Masons Lavender Edition Gin, Masons Tea Edition Gin, Whitley Neill Quince Gin.

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Gin and tonic with garnishIs a gin advent calendar worth it?

If you’re only looking at millilitre of gin per penny spent, then, no, a gin advent calendar is not worth it.

While you can buy a 700ml bottle of really fancy gin from £25 and upwards, a calendar will set you back at least twice that.

But the benefit of a good gin advent calendar, as well as the novelty factor, is the opportunity to be introduced to new gins and flavours that you might not ordinarily come across. And that comes at a cost.

In our assessments, we’ve favoured the calendars that have the greatest variety of gins, and we’ve penalised calendars that have lots of duplicates, are stuffed with liqueurs, or if the majority of gins would be available in your local supermarket (so many have likely tried them already).

Cheaper alternatives to a gin advent calendar

The most obvious alternative to a gin advent calendar is of course a bottle of gin.

In almost all cases it will be cheaper to buy your intended recipient a bottle of their favourite gin to sip over the month of December than to opt for the calendar option.

But of course that isn’t quite as fun, and you won’t be introduced to new flavours.

Other alternatives are the traditional chocolate advent calendar. See our pick of the best chocolate advent calendars.

How we tested gin advent calendars

We asked a panel of three willing volunteers to rate each calendar on how it looked, and the quality of the gins inside.

We also asked each member of our panel to tell us which calendar they would prefer to be bought for them, and which one they would be likely to buy for someone else.

We also factored into our scoring the variety of gins in each calendar, the proportion of lower-value and lower-ABV liqueurs, and whether the gins in the calendar were commonly available at UK supermarkets.

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