Best gin 2019
By Jade Harding
Supermarket own-brand gins take on the big names. Find out which is top for your G&T
Whether you’re someone who enjoys a G&T yourself, or are looking for a gin to wow guests, we’ve found a bottle to suit your budget.
For our expert tasting in the November 2018 edition of Which? magazine, we split the gins into two categories. The first focused on premium supermarket label gins and mainstream brands costing up to £20. The second looked at widely available branded gins costing around £20 to £26.
Only logged in Which? members can view the rest of our results and tasting notes in the table below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the gin on test. To get instant access join Which?.
1. Choose the best tonic
G&T gained popularity with the British in colonial India. They started mixing their tonic water – containing quinine to help ward off malaria – with gin to make it more palatable.
Tonic water has come a long way since then, and we asked our experts to blind taste test two popular premium Indian tonics: Fentimans and Fever-Tree. They roundly agreed that Fever-Tree was better – it was smoother, better rounded, more complex and more effervescent.
Fentimans was declared too acidic, overly citrusy and blunt, with the experts even expressing their surprise at discovering it was a ‘premium’ product. That said, they did agree that it could be a fine choice for jazzing up a dull gin.
We used Schweppes for our testing. Our panel agreed it’s a fine choice for everyday use, but an opened bottle will soon lose its fizz, so opt for cans.
2. Ice is a must
When it came to the ‘correct’ way to drink gin, there was only one factor that our panel unanimously agreed was a must: ice.
Bigger pieces of ice and more of them will melt slower and keep your drink cold and undiluted for longer. Your mixer of choice should be straight out of the fridge, too.
Unless you’re tasting gin neat, a room-temperature drink is a cardinal sin – your next G&T should be as cold as possible. Our panel even suggested storing your gin in the freezer for the ultimate chill.
3. Which glass?
Our experts suggest using a highball glass. A great all-rounder it can be used for either cocktails or simple gin and mixers. Its height means you can pack it full of ice to keep your drink cold, while the narrow opening is easy to garnish.
Balloon glasses – all the rage right now in bars, although not a favourite among our experts. You can pack loads of ice in, but its massive, top-heavy design makes it hard to hold without cupping the bowl, meaning your hand gets cold as your drink warms up. On the other hand, it’s easy to spectacularly garnish should you be making a fancy cocktail.
A coupette might look elegant but is just impractical when it comes to a gin and tonic – you can’t fit in all the ingredients. And a tumbler doesn’t allow enough space for ice.
4. Made to measure
Rather than eyeballing your next G&T, measure it out. Our expert panel recommended a ratio of three parts tonic water to one part gin. Use a miniature can for your mixer and it’s made easier for you – simply pour out the entire 150ml can over a standard double measure of gin (50ml).
5. How to garnish
If you’re going for the traditional lemon accompaniment always put a slice under the ice at the bottom of the glass or a peel on the top. Don’t squeeze it in.
Choose lime over lemon if you’re using a slimline mixer - its extra sharpness works well with the sweeter tonic.
And if you’re feeling fancy, try a little grapefruit. It’s an under-utilised citrus alternative that can add a real edge to your G&T. You don’t just have to go for a slice – some peel floating atop or run along the rim of the glass beforehand will give your drink a fragrant finish.
We brought in four of the UK’s most reputable gin experts to carry out the tasting for us. Every gin was tasted blind, first neat and then made into a gin and tonic; then scored on nose and aroma, taste and finish.
We asked supermarkets to nominate good-quality own-brand or exclusive products. We asked for a standard gin (ie. one that wasn’t from a premium or budget range). We also selected branded gins that were sold by most major supermarkets.
Each drink was tasted blind and rated by a panel of experts, who tasted the gins in a different order.
Gins were tested neat and as a gin and tonic - scores were weighted as follows:
- Ian Wisniewski, spirits writer and consultant
- Neil Ridley, drinks writer, presenter and consultant
- David T. Smith, writer, gin specialist and spirits judge
- Ian Buxton, drinks consultant, commentator and author