Around the Northern Hemisphere, we are once again settling into our jumpers and boots for the colder months. With the festive season looming large (however you celebrate it), it’s time to get your home ready for the occasion – and that includes your gin selection!
Whether you want something to add oomph to a mulled punch, a soothing spirit for a hot gin toddy, or a festive swap for your gin and tonic or Negroni go-to, the gin world has plenty of seasonal specialities at the ready. We have sampled a few of this season’s offerings to give you a sense of the variety on the market and, perhaps, introduce you to a new favourite.
Puddingstone Distillery – Campfire Pud Pud
Hailing from Puddingstone Distillery in Tring, Pud Pud Gin is made by distilling Christmas pudding that has been macerated in spirit for 24 hours along with juniper and fresh orange in the vapour basket. The result is a crisp, juniper-forward gin with a complex background of spice flavours, making it perfect for a festive G&T. Puddingstone also make a version of Pud Pud that is aged in port and Bourbon casks; the spiciness and fruitiness of the barrels marries especially well with the gin’s underlying botanicals. If that wasn’t enough, there is a third variation, Pud Pud Cherry, which takes the original gin and infuses it with cherries whilst it is being rested in a barrel. The additional cherry flavours perfectly highlight the chocolatey notes of the gin. It is fruity, yet dry, and delicious served over ice with a decadent pairing of luxury dark chocolate.
Edinburgh Gin – Christmas Gin
Edinburgh Gin takes the festive holiday connection one step further in its Christmas Gin, which incorporates ingredients featured in the Christian Nativity story. As well as more traditional flavours of nutmeg and ginger root, the gin is distilled with frankincense and myrrh, varieties of tree resin native to the Middle East and north Africa that add rich perfumed notes. This year, Edinburgh Gin has teamed up with London florist Wild at Heart to create a special Drinkable Wreath featuring its Christmas Gin.
Rock Rose – Autumn and Winter Editions
From Dunnet Bay Distillers, in the far north of Scotland, come the Rock Rose Autumn and Winter Edition gins. Both spirits are made with the traditional Rock Rose Gin botanicals, including sea buckthorn and Rhodiola rosea, with locally harvested seasonal additions: blackberries, raspberries and blaeberries in the Autumn Edition, and spruce tips in the Winter Edition. The Autumn Edition also includes nasturtium flavours and Vietnamese coriander, both grown at the distillery, which lend a pleasant spiciness.
Tarquin’s Figgy Pudding Gin
Taking its name from an alternative moniker for Christmas pudding, Tarquin’s Figgy Pudding Gin sees its Cornish Dry Gin infused with dried figs, clementine zest, Christmas spices and blow-torched, brandy-soaked cherry wood chips. On the nose, it conjures up the image of a steamed pudding with alcohol-soaked fruits and dark-golden caramel. The palate is syrupy but beautifully light and not too sweet, with notes of dates and figs in syrup, powdered ginger and cinnamon, and buttery cake batter. Tarquin’s suggests enjoying the gin in a Festive Fig-roni, or paired with ginger ale for a longer drink; for optimal enjoyment, find a comfy chair in front of a roaring fire!
Warner’s – 2021 Christmas Cake Gin
After a year’s hiatus, Warner’s Christmas Cake Gin is back! The gin is made using sloe berries, cherries, treacle, and dark chocolate. The result is a delicious gin with a good balance of sweetness and aromas of juniper, citrus and cherry. To taste, there are flavours of dark chocolate, spice, and the nutty fruitiness of sloe berries. This decadent drink is a great companion to cola, especially with a slice of orange as a garnish.
Hayman’s – Spiced Sloe Gin
This limited-edition winter release from London distiller Hayman’s combines its True English Sloe Gin with a host of warming spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and star anise. The result is a smooth and warming drink with spice complexity and rich red fruit notes. It would pair well with soda water in a Spritz, or could be mixed alongside a London Dry or classic-style gin in a short cocktail.
Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin
This is the original Christmas gin, first produced by the distillers at Sacred Spirits in Highgate, London in 2010. The gin is made by macerating a Christmas pudding for three months, before being cold-distilled with juniper. The pudding is based on a family recipe of Sacred founder, Ian Hart. The gin has crisp, classic juniper on the nose with a rich, fruity spiciness. The texture is exceptional, accompanied by light buttery notes, vine fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar, before an elegant, dry finish. This is a lovely all-rounder, but particularly superb in a Martini made with gin poured straight from the freezer.
Tappers – Figgy Pudding Christmas Gin
Tappers’ Figgy Pudding Gin includes its namesake fruit in the botanical mix, alongside raisins and sultanas. It is distilled using a cold compounding method, which helps the spirit to retain a fuller mouthfeel. To taste, rich dried fruit and caramel flavours and aromas slowly give way to a drying, spicy finish. Try it in a G&T with an orange or clementine-flavoured tonic water, garnished with fresh fig and a cinnamon stick.
Boatyard Distillery – Sloe Boat Gin
First introduced as a limited edition, the Sloe Boat Gin from Northern Ireland’s Boatyard Distillery has returned for 2021 as a part of the distillery’s core range. To make it, Boatyard Distillery steeps wild-harvested sloe berries in gin for six months, then sweetens the resulting liquid with sustainably sourced sugar. It claims to cram in more sloe berries than any other sloe gin, with 420g of fruit per bottle. The Boatyard team says Sloe Boat is a “rich and intense” gin liqueur, with a deep red hue and notes of plums, cassis, almond and juniper.