Derived from wheat or rye and flavoured with juniper berries, gin is both a delicious tipple on its own and an excellent base for cocktails. Not all gins are created equal, though. High-end gins have an especially nuanced flavour profile that usually comes from an extra distillation with exotic aromatics and botanicals. While this is expensive, the result is a full-bodied, complex and altogether pleasurable beverage.
Most expensive gins
For the discerning connoisseur with a pile of cash lying about, several gins are available through select companies. Bombay Sapphire offered the ultimate high-end gin in 2001. Called Revelation, the £130,000 bottle of premium gin was the result of a collaboration with legendary jewellers Baccarat and Garrard. Only five crystal bottles, encrusted with diamonds and sapphires, were produced. They were then sold at five airports in London, Dubai, New York, Sydney and Singapore. Available more readily but still quite expensive, Nolet Spirits offers Nolet's Reserve Gin for £450 per bottle. This bewitching brew is distilled from a recipe that has been carefully guarded by the Nolet family for more than 40 years and the supply is limited.
A superior gin usually costs £30 or more a bottle, but many gin enthusiasts agree the price is well worth it. Nolet's Silver Dry Gin, with notes of peach, raspberry and Turkish rose, comes with a five-star rating from "Spirit Journal" magazine. Bottles are valued at around £32 and are available in limited quantities. Other highly-praised gins include: Plymouth, Greenall's, Berkeley Square, Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick's, all of which cost between £20 and £30 a bottle.
Where to buy
Many high-end gins, such as Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick's, are available at major supermarkets. Most brands are available at off licence shops, but some types of high-end gins, like those produced by Nolet, are produced in small batches and are difficult to find. Ask your off-licence manager if he can locate a bottle for you. Off licence staff may also recommend a high-end boutique brand gin you may not be familiar with.
While a high-end gin makes an excellent base for gin martinis, gin and tonics or other gin-based cocktails, the best way to serve a high-end gin is straight from the fridge in an equally well-chilled glass. You can observe the flavours and subtleties of the gin, free of competition from other ingredients.