The 33 best local artisan gins
Was there ever a time of greater national need? The 33 best artisan gins across the Muddy counties - rack them up, throw in some Juniper berries and rosemary, and let's get drinking!
I’m not saying I’m a lush or anything but this has been one of my favourite features to pull together for a long time! So many fantastic gins, pretty labels, and legitimate (ish) excuses to reach for that balloon glass.
With so many artisan makers across the Muddy counties, simply use our list to make an insider’s choice next time your barman shows you an entire row of gins and and challenges you to pick the best. The good news? All the gins on our list are brilliant. Yup, it’s going to be a long night.
BEDFORDSHIRE BERKSHIRE BUCKINGHAMSHIRE CAMBRIDGESHIRE CORNWALL DEVON GLOUCESTERSHIRE HAMPSHIRE HERTFORDSHIRE ISLE OF WIGHT KENT LEICESTERSHIRE NORFOLK NORTHAMPTONSHIRE OXFORDSHIRE SOMERSET SURREY SUSSEX WARWICKSHIRE WILTSHIRE
Burleighs Gin, Charnwood Forest
Phil Burley and Graham Veitch weren’t messing around when they got Arnold Holstein of Markdorff, Germany to custom make their copper pot with a four-plate side column to create their signature Burleighs London Dry Gin. Nestled in Charnwood Forest, this much-loved gin brand draws inspiration from its natural surroundings to create unique, botanical recipes with hints of silver birch, dandelion, burdock and elderberry. Other drinks in their range include the PINK Edition, Export Strength Gin, Distiller’s Cut Gin. £32.50 for 70cl.
Silent Pool Gin, Albury Estate
Distilled on the Duke of Northumberland’s Albury Estate by the mythical and beautiful Silent Pool, this Surrey gin is as much about the romance and narrative of this beautiful area as it is about the botanicals that help make it. It was launched only five years ago by former ITV director Ian McCulloch and drinks expert James Shelbourne, and after a rapid rise is now around the world. Produced using 24 botanicals and the clear spring-water from the Silent Pool, there’s a fresh, floral sweetness to this gin, which is no doubt what makes it so popular. Best served on ice with a Fever Tree tonic and a large strip of orange zest snapped over the top. Available from Waitrose, Majestic Wine, Wine Rack and Odd Bin as well as independent retailers, and online. £37 for 70cl. silentpooldistillers.com
Willow Tree Gin, Stanbridge
Willow Tree Gin is hand-crafted by founder, Mary, on her family farm of over 40 years. It’s made with a blend of blend of 12 botanicals, including fresh lemon thyme and Thai basil. It’s local but with a hint of the exotic, in that the flavours are inspired by Mary’s love of travel but the herbs are all picked there on the farm, where she has fond memories of playing amongst the willow trees as a girl – you don’t get much more home-grown than that! £38 for 70cl.
Stratford Gin, Stratford-upon-Avon
Established in 2015, the innovative Shakespeare Distillery in Warwickshire currently produces three gins fusing Tudor garden botanicals created in small handcrafted batches with modern techniques. They are: the award-winning Stratford Gin, a Juniper-led modern ‘London dry’ gin with a twist of history, delicious herbal notes and a burst of floral and citrus; Mulberry Gin, combining Mulberries with Stratford Gin and entirely natural Rhubarb Gin, blending fresh Rhubarb juice with Stratford Gin. In January 2019 the owners – gin fan, founder and head distiller Simon Picken and qualified Astrophysicist Peter Monks – moved into new bigger premises and now offer one-hour Distillery Tours, runs a Gin School (Muddy review here) as well as Stratford Gin Festival with historic Billesley Manor Hotel and has recently launched 40-minute Gin Cruises on the River Avon. £33 for 70cl.
Ashmolean Dry Gin, TOAD Distillery
The Oxford Artisan Distillery, aka TOAD, has gained traction quickly with its funky copper distillery at the edge of Oxford’s Southpark and dapper bearded founder Tom Nicolson. The Ashmolean Dry Gin (40% ABV), inspired by the amazeballs Oxford’s museum, is its top seller, flavoured with 17 botanicals including jara lemon, rose, jasmine and orris. TOAD also claims to be the only distillery in the world to use ancient populations of organic heritage grain, grown within 50 miles of the distillery – so extra eco points for this already groovy brand. £39.50 for 70cl.
Slake Spirits, Shoreham-by-Sea
Sussex is a hot spot for some fantastic gins. Perhaps the most unusual is Slake Spirits, produced just metres from the beach at Shoreham-by-Sea, because it contains ingredients its creator Tom Martin-Wells has actually foraged from around the coast and countryside. Tom has used his PhD in chemistry and interest in botany to recreate classic gin flavours with a new twist, using ingredients that are local wherever possible. Choose from Sussex Dry Gin with juniper, coriander, cassia, cardamom, fennel, angelica, lemon balm and lemon verbena, or an autumnal Hedgerow Gin featuring juniper, coriander, cassia, cardamom, fennel, liquorice, lemongrass, elder, rowan and rose. You can order Slake online or look out for it at local festivals. £35 for 70cl.
Explorers Gin, Downton Distillery
In the heart of the Wiltshire Downs lies Downton Manor, former home to the Bishops of Winchester, Sir Walter Raleigh and now Downton Distillery and the ostentatiously adventurous Explorer’s Gin. Inspired by the surrounding history, Explorer’s is bold with flavours and uses a unique selection of botanicals from the garden and across the globe. So what makes Downton Distillery different? The distillery sources the finest ingredients, including western cedar and bay leaves grown in the Manor gardens; and each batch is weighed, measured, filled, labelled and sealed by hand. The gin and its stunning bottle not only pay tribute to the golden era of discovery and those who navigated uncharted waters, but also to today’s explorers, with a modern sense of adventure, inspired to make their own path come true. Who fancies a tipple dedicated to the Spirit of Adventure? £36 for 70cl.
Silver Fox Gin, Chippenham
This divine tipple, inspired by rural England, is crafted with eight carefully selected botanicals including juniper, cassia, coriander, orange, lemon, orris, angelica and liquorice, blended by a master distiller using 100% English Grain Spirit, distilled in an English Copper Pot and bottled in Wiltshire. Oh, and it’s choc full of flavour. Just what we like to hear. Check out the website for ultra fab cocktail recipes. £30 for 70cl. silverfoxgin.com
Tinkture Rose Gin, Perranporth
A lovingly crafted gin that oozes style and substance. This amazing colour-changing gin is made with organic West Country roses. The golden colour changes to beautiful pink when mixed with tonic – and that bottle is divine! You can now also order Tinkture gin in refill pouches – a win, win for the environment and your bank balance. £45 for 50cl.
Curio Samphire Rock Gin, Mullion
Made in Mullion on the Lizard Peninsula, this four-times-distilled gin – made with hand-foraged rock samphire – captures an invigorating taste of the Cornish coast. And I don’t care what they say about books and covers, the colourful packaging won us over too. £38 for 70cl. curiospiritscompany.co.uk
This mother and daughter duo have a love of life, and gin of course. Both are bursting with creativity and passion so you know you will find some exciting flavours at Hustle. Their goal was to create some of their very own contemporary gins and boy have they done just that (it’s also great to see that 10% of their profits go to causes relating to human trafficking and have a sustainable outlook). Some of their amazing flavours include cubeb pepper and orange blossom and pink grapefruit and raspberry, yum. The ladies also host their very own gin tastings right in the comfort of your own home, an experience tailored just for you, your friends or family. So, whether it’s a birthday, hen do or just an excuse to get together and drink, this is a fab experience to book in for. £42 for 70cl.
We couldn’t do an artisan gin feature in Northants and not mention Warner’s (formerly Warner Edwards). Starting in 2012 on their beautiful family farm; Warner’s Distillery has grown into a behemoth of a business servicing pubs and restaurants all over the UK. The water is drawn from their own spring, they grow their very own botanicals and they have their very own beehives. With a real respect for nature and all things local and the community, the team here do what they can to re-sow, replant and rebuild. They offer two types of tours around their lovely distillery – their Curiosity tour and Curiosity and Cocktails tour where you can discover what makes their gins so special in a bespoke cocktail mix. £33 for 70cl.
Wicked Wolf, Exmoor
You won’t want to keep the wolf from the door when it’s this delicious. Created by husband and wife team Julie Heap and Pat Patel, Wicked Wolf is hand-crafted in small batches on Exmoor from 11 exotic botanicals, including juniper obvs, plus coriander, hibiscus and kaffir lime leaves. Each botanical is individually distilled and blended by hand, resulting in a spirited bite, and Asian flavours making it a perfect match for Thai food. If you like the sound of this lone wolf, then do say hello to the rest of the pack: navy strength Silver Bullet, Full Moon and the new 1869 Lorna Doone, a nod to Mr & Mrs Wicked Wolf’s East Lyn Valley location and a celebration of 150 years since Blackmore’s novel was written. This she-wolf is a gentler proposition, flavoured with meadowsweet, heather, bilberries and smidgen of vanilla. Make mine a double. £36.30 for 70cl.
It came, it saw, it conquered! A celebration of the city’s Roman heritage, Exeter Gin owes its robust but smooth flavour to traditional Mediterranean herbs as brought to the city by the Second Augustan Legion in 55AD, including tarragon, basil and fourteen other botanicals from the four corners of the Roman world. Victorious in the Food & Drink Devon Awards, and winner of a Silver Award at Taste Of The West 2018, it now has reinforcements in the shape of Ivaar the Boneless, a 57% navy strength gin. An army may march on its stomach, but a gal chills on a gin. £35.99 for 70cl.
Fort Gin, The Portsmouth Distillery
With the first batch released in 2018, this newcomer to the gin world has a pretty formidable birthplace. Distilled in Portsmouth’s Fort Cumberland, it includes botanicals found within the fort’s walls – Gorse Flower, Elderflower and Sea Radish. This 41% ABV gin is best served as a simple G&T, garnished with lime. Don’t forget to leave the bottle out so everyone can admire the cool design! £32 for 70cl. theportsmouthdistillery.com
Twisted Nose Watercress Gin, Winchester Distillery
Hampshire is known for its watercress and Twisted Nose Dry Gin (40%ABV) from the Winchester Distillery capitalises on the local delicacy, along with nine other carefully chosen botanicals to create a gin that’s firmly anchored in the county. Serve with a good tonic and a twist of pink grapefruit. £34.95 for 70cl.
Bombay Sapphire, Laverstoke Mill
Hampshire has a huge array of fantastic gins at its disposal, but how many are worldwide famous? Enter that iconic blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire, distilled in Laverstoke Mill, Whitchurch since 2011. The gin’s look conjures up images of faraway lands and the flavour has hints of the ten botanicals contained within. With 40% ABV and costing around £27.50 for a litre it’s a great value option.
Silverback Mountain Strength Gin, Gorilla Spirits
This gorgeous gin from Gorilla Sprits can be found in Upton Grey, and boasts real ethical creds – the signature Silverback Mountain Strength Gin (46% ABV) was created to with preservation in mind, giving £1 from every bottle to The Gorilla Organization. The distillery suggests pairing it with a light tonic and a twist of orange peel. £39 for 70cl.
Campfire Gin, Puddingstone Distillery
The latest member of the Campfire family, from Hertfordshire’s first (and award-winning) gin distillery, Puddingstone, is Campfire Old Tom Gin. A spicier take on the classic Campfire London Dry, it features malted barley, cinnamon and cardamon (historically flavours used to mask unpure base alcohol!) in addition to juniper, British coriander, chamomile, angelica root, and fresh lemon peel. Muddy Herts’ editor, Katrina sampled some Old Tom while it was being perfected last time she popped into the distillery, and it sure packs a spicy punch, which is super smooth as it goes down – something to warm the cockles on a cool summer evening! £34 for 70cl.
Jam Jar Gin
Founders Daniel and Faye Thwaites came up with the idea for this adorably bottled tipple as a result of a dare in their Victorian kitchen garden, with Jam Jar Gin becoming the UK’s first crowdfunded gin. The now award-winning London Dry Gin (43% ABV) has a truly British flavour, inspired by ingredients found in the garden including raspberry leaf which gives the gin a citric and refreshing taste, with an unusual creamy finish. Freeze before serving for an extra creamy taste. £44 for 70cl.
ISLE OF WIGHT
Mermaid Gin, Isle of Wight Distillery
The Island may only have one gin distillery and it’s a corker! This Muddy Award-winning business has a range of spirits, but none are more beautiful than Mermaid Gin. I mean, just look at that bottle! The gin contains a real essence of the Island – locally foraged Rock Samphire, Boadicea hops directly from Ventnor Botanic Gardens and cut with Island chalk-fed spring water. While this 42% ABV beauty is best served straight up with tonic and lots of ice, it also goes perfectly with cucumber and seasonal berries as a garnish. £36.50 for 70cl.
Roundwood London Dry Gin
Muddy Cambs’ editor Hollie discovered this extra-small batch gin that launched last year in her local Cambs pub a few months back and is a massive convert. It’s distilled in a renovated farm building near Huntingdon by Emily and Rupert, and is inspired by the local woodland on the estate, with botanicals including fresh, fruity mix of peppery juniper, coriander seeds, elderberry and angelica root. We love the pretty packaging, and the fact that each beautiful bottle is still hand-sealed. £36 for 70cl. roundwooddistillery.co.uk
The Ely Gin Company
This gin distillery started life as a small market stall in Ely run by a former computer programmer, but it turns out the inhabitants of Ely are partial to a bit of mother’s ruin as six years later the company now has a shop in the town, and you’ll find their fruity spirits stocked across the UK and at festivals and events. We love the fun different flavours of these artisan gins and the chic bottles, plus there’s a tipple for every time of the day from Breakfast Marmalade to Afternoon Tea, to the delicious and perfect-for-gifts concoctions such as Chocolate Orange and Rhubarb. Can’t decide which one to try? We’d opt for the mixed case (£129.95 for 6 50cl bottles) or try their Infugintonic taster pack (quite literally flavoured tea bags for your gin!). elygin.co.uk
137 Gin, Lumber’s Bartholomew Country Garden
The new kid on the block, 137 Gin launched four varieties last year from its cool distillery and tasting room at The Newbury Pub (a Muddy Award winner, naturally) and they’re making some noise with three making the finals in the prestigious Gin Guide Awards. The Muddy fave is Lumber’s Bartholomew Country Garden, a beautifully balanced gin, with a hint of floral botanicals that tastes like summer without a hint of soapiness. That’s because those floral notes are tamed by a delicate dry herbal finish. Fill your chilled glass with big ice cubes, pour Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic gently on a bar spoon to keep the fizz. Garnish with a few juniper berries and a sprig of rosemary. This also works very well with a good Indian tonic. £42 for 70cl.
Horse Guards London Dry Gin, Maidenhead
‘The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the empire.’ Ah, the wisest of words from legendary lush Winston Churchill. Now you’ve been given your marching orders to try this gin with its quintessential combo of juniper, coriander, angelica, orange peel, grapefruit peel and cardamom. Named after the Horse Guards, part of the Household Cavalry (King Charles II’s elite heavies) this gin it almost guaranteed to puts hairs on your chest and gloss on your hooves. £35 for 70cl. shop.horseguards.london
Norfolk Gin led the Gin revolution in Norfolk and you can’t walk into a bar or pub without seeing the distinctive handcrafted ceramic bottles. The dream husband and wife team Jonathan & Alison manage the whole operation from two Shepherd’s Huts and their garage in a mastery of micro distilling that’s produced over 25,000 bottles in a little over four years. Norfolk Gin is now on it’s travels as it makes the perfect holiday gift plus the bottle turns into a cute little candelabra or bookend! With lots of exciting things in the pipeline including mini gift bottles, wooden kitchen blocks, sustainable corks and some wonderful old fashioned cinema styled paintings featuring Norfolk Gin – this is Artisan Gin at its best. £42 for 70cl.
WhataHoot Gin, Royal Sandringham Estate
Winner of our Best Newcomer Award 2019 – ‘Whatahoot’ can be found mixing up their botanicals on the grounds of the Royal Sandringham Estate. I don’t know what’s better, being neighbours with Royalty or being neighbours with a Gin distillery? The magic happens in a traditional barn formerly inhabited by owls, hence the name and of course drinking gin is the very definition of WhataHoot. The Signature Gin is a blend of botanicals including the Norfolk flavours of sea samphire and lavender and they are already onto their second venture – Tawny Orange, a natural fruity little number which is perfect for summer! £39.99 for 70cl.
Newton House Gin, Yeovil
Somerset’s famous for its cider but it’s now winning gongs for its gin. Awarded Gold in the 2018 World Gin Award and Silvers in the IWSC and New York Wine & Spirits Competition, Newton House Gin is a 43.2% ABV London Dry Gin made in three copper stills from 12 botanicals and the fresh spring water found at Jacobean mansion Newton Surmaville, just south of Yeovil. Add ice and tonic and the gin acquires a pearlescent glow from essential oils found in the fresh citrus dried in the distillery. Take a sip – it’s zesty, clean, with hints of juniper, mint and peppery spice, peach and blueberries – and you could almost be in Newton Surmaville’s sunny walled garden yourself. £36 for 70cl.
Fordington Gin, Dorchester
Inspired by the flavours and botanicals of iconic French absinthe, Dorset-made Fordington Gin is a crisp, light London Dry Gin, with delicate hints of aniseed and lemon balm. Their 50% ABV Gurt Lush just won a Gold in the Taste of the West Awards. Serve with tonic and a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber; strawberries and black pepper; or a Brandy-soaked cherry and some Brandy cherry juice (just a few ideas). £40 for 70cl; Gurt Lush £35 for 35cl.
A worthy winner of the Bucks & Oxon Muddy Award winner for Best Local Producer 2019, the Buckingham-based Foxdenton has had massive success with its dry gin and pretty gin liquers (raspberry, Winslow plum, golden apricot, damson, rhubarb and sloe). The dry gin offers a smooth blend of Juniper, Coriander Seeds, Lemon Peel, Lime Flower, Angelica and Orris Root and trust me, with an ABV of 48% there’s no chance of you asking the barman ‘did you put any Gin in this tonic?! Serve with a premium tonic, lemon, plenty of ice and a large smile. £30 for 70cl.
A bespoke gin from the heart of Glos, Twisting Spirits creates distinctive craft gins, distilling, filling and labelling each and every bottle by hand. So far, so typically artisan you may say, but these guys are different, using a hot and cold dual distillation technique to deliver a massive burst of flavour. Check out their current range of premium gins: Douglas-Fir, Kaffir Lime and Lemongrass and Earl Grey Gin. Well, all I can say is, where’s the Fever Tree? £39 for 70cl.
Longtooth, Tunbridge Wells
Longtooth is the cool new botanical gin in town, just launched by a team from Tunbridge Wells. It’s a modern twist on the iconic 60s brand, Bengal Gin, looks almost too gorgeous to drink (we said almost), tastes flippin’ fabulous, the Master Distiller is a woman AND 10% of all profits go towards saving the tigers. That’s all the reason we need to make this our favourite gift to give. Maneater Martini, anyone? £38 for 70cl.
Pinot Noir Gin, Chapel Down
Kent-based, international award-winning winery, Chapel Down, has an exciting new addition. Introducing Pinot Noir Gin, believed to be the first gin of its kind. Created using distilled Pinot Noir grape skins from the Chapel Down harvest, this aromatic pink gin is infused with juniper, coriander, rose buds, citrus fruits, rosehip, angelica, grains of paradise and delicate aromas of red berries. Since you asked. £35 for 70cl.