Updated: Jun 22
Gin’s in and here in Wales we’re celebrating boom time for home grown distilleries.
Driven by curiosity and great taste, Welsh ginsmiths are creating unique recipes, inspired by locality, provenance and small batch production, offering an infinite selection to choose from. Vicky North shares her picks of the current best gins in Wales.
Single Botanical, Jin Talog
Jin Talog like to keep things simple at their distilleryin the village of Talog, Carmarthenshire. Their ethos combines a pared back simplicity with meticulous
attention to detail.The result? A single botanical ginof outstanding quality.
The distillery uses just three ingredients in the process and all are organic: water drawn from the farm spring, huge jammy juniper berries from Uzbekistan and grain spirit derived from organic cereal.
Sustainability is taken seriously. A closed system distilling process ensures zero waste,
and mail orders are packaged in wool from their own reared Balwen Welsh Mountain sheep. Classy, clean and tasteful, this is definitely a gin to savour and the bottle is a showstopper.
Tasting Notes: Complex spicy spruce flavours with a robust juniper hit.
Enjoy with: A large cube of ice.
Crawshay Strawberry Gin, Hensol Castle Distillery
Distilled in a 17th Century Gothic castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, Crawshay strawberry Gin pays homage to its regional claim of the longest strawberry growing season in Europe. Harnessing abundance, only fresh strawberries are used in the production process to create this bright and fruity gin.
For a touch of luxury on super cold winter days, Helen Jones of the Gin Tin recommends a shot of strawberry gin in your hot chocolate. Roaring log fires optional.
Tasting Notes: Sunny strawberry notes with basil, juniper and citrus warmth.
Enjoy with: Lime, sprigs of mint and Llanllyr Source soda water.
Yellow Label Forager’s Gin, Snowdonia Distillery
Gin has the capacity to encapsulate the flavours of a region – imagine bottling the essence of your immediate surroundings and there you have the magic of gin. Snowdonia Distillery in Tal-y-Cafn near
Colwyn Bay does just this, right down to foraging for native-grown Snowdon juniper for which they have a licence to pick locally. Using only Snowdonian
botanicals and water filtered through local granite, Yellow Label Forager’s gin embodies sustainable distilling. This is a floral gin of outstanding flavour and would make a perfect gift for long-distance loved ones suffering from hiraeth.
Tasting Notes: Warm juniper tones, semi-sweetness of apple and elderberry followed up by gorse and heather floral flavours.
Enjoy with: A plain tonic and slice of apple.
Navigation Gin, Dyfi Distillery
Based in Corris, Montgomeryshire, Dyfi Distillery has secured the Best British Gin Award for two consecutive years between 2016 and 2017 and their latest gin has been keenly awaited. Navigation Gin does not disappoint and has carved out its own niche as one of the strongest gins on the market. Produced at Full Navy Strength 57% ABV, the name is inspired by a bygone maritime practice whereby gunpowder would be immersed in the ship’s spirits to test for alcoholic potency. Only at this strength could the gunpowder
still ignite and the spirits be assured of quality.
Dyfi Distillery is known for meticulously foraging Welsh botanicals by hand and Navigation is no exception. Locally sourced coastal flavours overlap with peppery spices and a unique umami taste imparted from the Madeira barrels in which the gin is aged.
Tasting Notes: Earthy juniper, grape juice, sea salt & citrus.
Enjoy with: Ice if you’re brave enough, otherwise a long, sweet tonic and spicy garnish such as a cinnamon stick and juniper berries.
Alexa Gin, Coles Distillery
For a party piece, Alexa Gin from Carmarthenshire-based Coles Distillery is definitely one to try. Using the addition of butterfly pea flower petals during the distilling process, this deep blue gin
turns a vibrant pink with the addition of tonic. Made from a blend of 15 botanicals, including coriander, orris and angelica root, this is possibly the most novel gin on the Welsh scene.
Tasting Notes: Light citrus, coriander and juniper.
Enjoy with: Llanllyr Source tonic water poured slowly over ice whilst you marvel at the colour change.
Seaweed Gin, Dà Mhìle Distillery
Savoury flavours and a good dose of sea spray hallmark this beautiful gin from Llandysul in Ceredigion, infused with seaweed sourced from the Welsh coast.
Hailing from the Dà Mhìle Distillery and made in wood fired copper pot stills, this unusual gin was designed to be enjoyed alongside fish and seafood.
For a touch of the James Bonds, try a Dirty Dà Mhìle Seaweed Martini – one part Dà Mhìle gin, two parts sweet vermouth and one part olive juice. Strain over ice and garnish with lemon.
Tasting Notes: Bold, smooth and savoury. Juniper notes interspersed with peppery spice and sea salt.
Enjoy with: Plain tonic garnished with kiwi, lemon or rocket.
Orange Marmalade Gin, Aber Falls Distillery
Citrus has long been known to pair well with the pine flavours of juniper. Based in Abergwyngregyn in Gwynedd, Aber Falls Distillery have curated this classic al combination to create a cwtsh-in-a-glass gin to savour. Chivers it is not. This warming gin would work well outdoors on a chilly Spring or Summer's evening, accompanied by the amber glow of a firepit.
Tasting notes: Bitter sweet orange with pine and juniper flavours.
Enjoy with: One part gin to two parts dry white wine and 3 parts Llanllyr Source soda water, garnished with rosemary sprig and orange zest. Equally tasty neat on ice.
Bara Brith Gŵyr Gin, The Gower Gin Company
Husband and wife team Andrew and Siân run their seaside micro distillery from Port Eynon on the Gower peninsula. They’ve recently teamed up with Welsh Brew Tea to produce a fruity Bara Brith gin based on
a family recipe. Tea-soaked vine fruit are macerated with citrus, ginger, nutmeg and
cinnamon, encapsulating the flavours of our national bake with a hearty juniper punch.
Tasting Notes: Spicy cinnamon and nutmeg with juniper, fennel and grapefruit undertones.
Enjoy with: Ginger ale and a slice of orange.
Blue Slate Gin / Jin Llechen Las, Dinorwig Distillery
With an emphasis on sourcing local and sited beneath the Dinorwig Slate Quarry near Llanberis, Dinorwig Distillery carefully broke down the flavour profile of juniper to see how they could complement it with
native botanicals growing in their back yard. Using bay leaves, coriander seed and rosemary from their garden, the distillers combine botanicals with locally grown rhubarb, raw heather honey and spring water from their own well, adhering to their mantra, “Use nothing that cannot be harvested in North Wales.”
Tasting Notes: Spicy pine, elderflower, oak and
Enjoy with: Pink grapefruit bitters and tonic.
The Cardiff Dry, Eccentric Gin
Caerffili-based Eccentric Gin is well-established and offers a wide range of flavour profiles to choose from. Try the Cardiff Dry as a hangover cure as it works well in a Bloody Mary – a perfect remedy for the morning after the night before. Uniquely, the Cardiff Dry is flavoured with a wild sunflower botanical imparting a balanced bittersweet floral, prompting those at Eccentric HQ to tout it as The Welsh Aperitif. Campari, watch out...
Tasting Notes: Rosemary, fennel and liquorice with
Enjoy with: A slice of orange and sprig of rosemary.