Monday, February 15, 2016

101 Gins To Try Before You Die - Ian Buxton

This little book was a present from my father and stepmother over New Year. They have obviously noticed my love of gin (Christmas present from them was 2 half bottles of Shetland Reel gin, one of which is flavoured with seaweed - yet to be tried). I'm grateful for the book as I was in two minds about buying it myself, on the one hand it's about gin, on the other 'before you die' has an ominous ring to it that just winds me up. 

The gin market is in overdrive at the moment however, with brands multiplying like rabbits and no sign of things slowing down, so a guide book of any kind is worth a glance and I really like this one. It's a sensible, as well as an unashamedly personal selection. Aldi's own label gin appears as does Beefeater, Gordon's, and Greenall's alongside more expensive and exclusive products. I think this is important for a couple of reasons, the first being that modestly priced, widely available, products are the obvious end of the market to start exploring something like gin from. The second reason is that for anyone my age or older these were the usually the only gins to be had. 

For me Gordon's or Beefeater will always be the benchmark, because although (like Buxton) I don't especially rate Gordon's I've drunk so much of it over the years that sometimes nothing else will do. (Beefeater is better, Buxton and I agree on that too). 

Unlike whisky, the difference between the majority of gins, especially if they all say something like 'London Dry' on the label, is subtle which makes it perfect to keep on experimenting with. It's a few years since I've bought a second bottle of anything, preferring instead to try something new each time. (Though if I had to stick with only one gin for the rest of my life it would probably be Berry Bros No3, I love an old fashioned juniper heavy gin). I'm normally happy to pay up to £35 for a bottle, much happier to pay somewhat less, and totally unwilling to pay more. I don't drink a lot so a bottle will last a reasonable length of time hence the willingness to pay a bit, but as with collecting anything it makes sense to set a spending limit. 

Limit set, gin makes quite a nice souvenir of a day out - everywhere seems to be making one now - so it turns out to be very easy indeed to find you've accumulated more than a dozen bottles. And when you reach that point there's no turning back. I've tried just over 30 of the gins in this book, and quite a few which aren't in there too. It has plenty that I've thought about buying but not been quite convinced about, so having a review is useful. In short it's a well written, informative, funny, little book that it's easy to lose yourself in for an hour or two at a time and which is providing plenty of inspiration for my next purchase. A must for any gin lover! 


  1. and 'before you die' is such a daft phrase anyway, you can't be confident there will be any opportunity to enjoy it after you've died ..

  2. It's a pet irritation. If I'm going to contemplate my own mortality I'm not going to do it whilst following somebody else's to do list. The possibility of gin after death is attractive, but as you say - no guarantee

  3. So pleased Berry Bros No 3 is your favourite. A bottle is on the drinks cabinet here & what a handsome bottle it is. Next to it is Martin Miller a delightful, not too much of anything gin.

  4. Martin Millers is another favourite! And chase extra dry Gin as well. There are a lot of favourites...