Debates can definitely be made, but gin with its complex floral, herbal, and botanical flavor profile might be the best warm-weather spirit. Sure, you can come at us with rum takes and even throw in some vodka hype our way, but gin is the true winner when it comes to spring and summer. It’s great neat, on the rocks, and mixed into gin gimlets, Spanish gin and tonics, and a whole host of other fresh, bright, floral gin-based cocktails.
The best part? Unlike some other spirits, gin is (mostly) more affordable. There are countless well-made, award-winning, reasonably-priced gins. To enjoy great gin, you don’t need to take out a second mortgage on your parents’ house or sell your favorite NFTs. All you need is around $20-30 bucks.
To prove it, we found eight of the best and blindly nosed and tasted each one. And this wasn’t an easy task because, even though gin is well-known for its juniper-forward flavor, there are countless herbs and botanicals that can be used to add extra depth and flavor. Meaning it varies widely. For this experiment, we selected a mix of smaller craft gins as well as some well-known brands. We stayed away from the household names in favor of the lesser-known, more underrated offerings.
Keep scrolling to see how it all turned out.
- Martin Miller’s Gin
- 3 Howls Classic Gin
- Prairie Organic Gin
- Esme Gin
- Bluecoat American Dry Gin
- Hofland Gin
- Citadelle Gin
- Greenall’s London Dry Gin
Part 1: Under $30 Gin Blind Tasting
The nose is fairly muted, but there are subtle aromas of pine, citrus peels, and coriander. The palate continues this trend. While juniper is definitely the main event, it’s fairly light. There’s more coriander, lemon zest, and some floral flavors. Overall, it’s just kind of unexciting.
A complex nose of orange peels, wildflowers, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices greet you before your first sip. The palate is juniper-forward, but also licorice, orange peels, and a ton of floral notes. It’s pine, citrus, and a ton of spice.
It’s a very well-rounded, flavorful gin.
Pine needles, juniper, orange zest, licorice, and a field of wildflowers greet you before your first sip. The palate has a nice kick of juniper, but it’s the citrus that truly takes center stage. Orange blossoms, lemon rinds, cucumber, coriander, licorice, white pepper, and a floral backbone make it a truly memorable gin.
There are a ton of herbal aromas on the nose as well as the expected juniper berries, orange peels, lemongrass, gentle spices, and a ton of floral rose. The palate is pleasantly sweet with pine needles, juniper, orange blossoms, lemon peels, cucumber, and a nice hint of rosewater at the end. It’s an interesting, very mixable gin.
The nose is heavy on floral, pine, citrus peels, and juniper. The palate is more of the same. It’s easy to drink, but the flavor palate doesn’t go much beyond those original flavors. There’s really nothing else discernable. It’s just okay.
Juniper is big at the forefront of this gin’s nose. But it’s not overpowering. Grains of paradise, honey, cracked black pepper, and aromatic floral aromas are also there. The palate is surprisingly sweet for a gin with honey, pine needles, citrus peels, and a nice mix of floral and wintry spices at the finish.
Sweet, spicy, and highly mixable.
On the nose, there’s a ton of Meyer lemon, pine needles, and light floral hints. It doesn’t lean too heavily in any flavor. On the palate, there’s a good deal of piney juniper to set the stage. Then comes grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon flavors. It ends with floral and gentle spices. Overall, a very well-balanced gin.
The nose is all lemon zest, wildflowers, spices, and a ton of piney juniper. It sets the stage for what’s to come. Drinking it reveals more juniper, pine needles, coriander, and other spices, and a ton of orange peel and lemon zest. It’s bright, piney, and floral, and has a nice citrus element.
Part 2: The Rankings
8) Prairie Organic Gin (Taste 5)
Average Price: $20
All of Prairie Organic’s spirits are made with 100% USDA-certified organic corn. It’s sustainable and classic, clean, and easy to drink or mix with. The brand doesn’t release the botanicals included, but it’s juniper-forward with a ton of floral and citrus flavors.
If you buy this gin, you can be happy that you’re doing your part to drink an organic, sustainably produced gin. Otherwise, it’s… just alright. Nothing special.
7) Greenall’s London Dry Gin (Taste 1)
Average Price: $20
Greenall’s is one of the oldest gin distillers in England with its genesis in 1761. It might not have the name recognition of some of the larger brands, but it’s stood the test of time. Its London dry gin is flavored with eight herbs and botanicals, including juniper berries, angelica root, and coriander.
This isn’t a bad gin as long you’re not looking for a ton of flavor. If you prefer your gins light on flavor and simply used as a mixer, this is a decent pick for you.
6) Bluecoat American Dry Gin (Taste 8)
Average Price: $29
Bluecoat American Dry Gin is made with 100% USDA-certified organic botanicals from “around the world” according to the distillery’s site. Some of the main ingredients include juniper berries, lemon peels (and other citrus), coriander seeds, and angelica root.
This is a good example of an American dry gin done right. It’s subtle and mixable, yet highly complex and flavorful.
5) 3 Howls Classic Gin (Taste 7)
Average Price: $21
You might know this gin as “3 Howls Old Fashioned Gin”. Well, it’s not called that anymore because they were required to change it to avoid confusion with the classic cocktail. It’s 90-proof and known for its mix of botanicals and balanced, highly mixable flavor profile.
This is the kind of balanced, complex mixable gins that you’ll want to have on your home bar cart or in your liquor cabinet at all times.
4) Citadelle Gin (Taste 2)
Average Price: $22
Probably the most well-known gin on this list, Citadelle is a French gin made by well-known cognac maker Maison Ferrand. It’s a highly aromatic and flavor spirit infused with myriad herbs and botanicals including juniper berries, nutmeg, almond, cinnamon, star anise, orris root, fennel, orange peel, cardamon, lemon peel, grains of paradise, and more.
There’s a reason Citadelle is a popular gin. It’s loaded with so many herbs and botanicals, it’s hard to find them all in one sample. It’s the kind of gin you’ll drink for months and find a new flavor each time.
3) Hofland Gin (Taste 6)
Average Price: $20
Holland is well-known for its gin and genever prowess. There are a ton of big-name brands. But you definitely shouldn’t sleep on Hofland. A London dry gin, Hofland is known for its balance. It’s infused with eight, specifically selected herbs and botanicals including juniper berries, vanilla, ginger, coriander, orris root, angelica root, and licorice.
This is a very unique gin. It’s sweeter than most gins but has a great, balanced flavor profile perfect for mixing.
2) Esme Gin (Taste 4)
Average Price: $25
This French gin begins as a neutral grain spirit made from wheat. It’s known for its unique flavor profile featuring juniper berries, hibiscus, rose petals, and cucumber. It’s piney, fruity, filled with citrus, and sublimely floral.
Similar to Hendrick’s with its rose petals and cucumbers, Esme is a great choice for gin & tonics and other fresh, summery cocktails.
1) Martin Miller’s Gin (Taste 3)
Average Price: $29
Martin Miller’s gin is a very interesting spirit. It’s distilled in England with a floral and citrus-forward list of botanicals before being blended with pure Icelandic spring water. It’s aromatic, flavorful, clean, and perfect for sipping neat or mixed into your favorite cocktail.
For the price, it’s tough to beat the appeal of Martin Miller’s gin. It’s clean and flavorful. One sip and you’ll never want to be without it on your shelf.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
Juniper is the star of gin. It’s the flavor you either love or hate when it comes to this spirit. While it’s a note that is definitely looked forward to, the gins we enjoy use it as a base and have other herbs and botanicals that back it up like the best background singers of all time. Looking at the top three, balance is key — re-read those tasting notes and pick the bottle that sounds best to you!