Thanks to the boom in craft distilling, there are now something like 600 gins on the market, which can make choosing a bottle for your favourite cocktail lover rather bewildering. Certainly, I get asked to recommend good gins to give as gifts a lot, but gift I have given most often is the Sacred Negroni Giftpack (£49.95) by north-London microdistillers Sacred.
This natty little box set contains three 200ml bottles of its fabulous frankincense-laced Sacred Gin, Spiced English Vermouth and Rosehip Cup, a Campari-like liqueur made with rosehip, rhubarb and ginger. Simply combine one shot of each over ice, stir and garnish with an orange slice to make a Negroni – and enjoy a delicious evening of cocktails à deux.
I have also created a hit list of brands that are not only delicious and interesting, but lovely to look at, too. Elephant Gin (£29.45) from Germany has a very sophisticated touch of bitter wormwood, which makes an excellent Martini. Dodd’s Gin (£36.95, second picture) by The London Distillery Company boasts an array of interesting botanicals – including raspberry leaf, bay laurel and honey – as well as a very handsome, handprinted label (and it also does limited-edition gins from time to time, which are worth snapping up). Tanqueray No. Ten (£29.95) may no longer qualify as niche, but it remains one of the finest gins for a G&T that is as aromatic and uplifting as a walk on a chamomile lawn, and the delicate Japanese Gin (£65, third picture) by the boutique Cambridge Distillery, which counts the basil-like shiso, cucumber and yuzu among its botanicals, is always a headturner.
My favourite of the new craft gins from the US, meanwhile, is Death’s Door (£42.45) from Wisconsin, which is deliciously cool and crisp and made with just three botanicals: fennel, coriander and juniper.