Which? raises a glass to Best Buy gin

Supermarket own-label offerings show established gin brands how it’s done in the biggest Which? gin taste test to date.

Which? has conducted its biggest ever single spirit test to find the best widely-available dry gins. A Which? expert panel tasted 11 premium supermarket own-label and big brand gins priced at under £20.

Of the top five highest-scoring gins, four were supermarket own-label offerings.

The panel awarded a Best Buy – and an impressively high score – to Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Blackfriars Gin (83%). This £16 gin was a stand-out favourite and was praised for its “exuberant aroma and freshness” as well as its “complexity and balance”.

Not all supermarket gins impressed the experts however. At the other end of the scale, Aldi’s Topaz Blue Gin (£14) was awarded a score of just of just 51 per cent with the panel agreeing that this gin was simply too weak and bland to stand out from the tonic.

Other supermarket gins also out-performed some of the well-known branded offerings. Asda’s Special Triple Distilled Premium Gin (£16) scored 75 per cent and Lidl’s Hortus Original London Dry Gin (£16) scored 74 per cent. M&S London Gin (£15) was awarded 71 per cent by the panel.

Representing the well-known brands, Gordon’s Special London Dry Gin (£16) and Beefeater London Dry Gin (£16) trailed at 66 and 63 per cent respectively, placing them firmly in the middle of the table.

The only brand-name gin to make the top five was Tanqueray Dry Gin (£18). Describing it as “fantastically zesty” and boasting a “big, juniper aroma”, the panel awarded this gin a score of 75 per cent making it an excellent option for those looking for a branded gin for under £20.

The gin marketplace is crowded and competitive, with sales of gin having doubled in the five-year lead-up to March 2018. Given the proliferation of new brands, varieties and distilleries springing up, gin-lovers have more choice than ever before.

Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine, said:

“With sales of gin rocketing and shoppers facing more choice than ever, it’s good news for gin-lovers that our expert test has found some excellent high street contenders that don’t cost a fortune.

“Well-known brands are being challenged by a range of impressive supermarket offerings, showing how strong the demand for gin is now. Choose a Which? Best Buy gin and follow our expert serving advice to ensure that your G&Ts hit the spot.”


Which? expert tips for the perfect gin and tonic:

  1. Choose your glass wisely: Which? recommends a Tom Collins or highball glass. Balloon glasses are all the rage, but the top-heavy design means you are likely to cradle the bowl in your hands which can lead to cold hands and a warm gin and tonic.

  2. Pick the right tonic: the Which? gin experts blind-tested some of the premium tonics and their prefered choice was Fevertree. However, our experts agree that Schweppes is a fine choice for everyday use. Whichever tonic you choose, pick a can rather than a bottle for maximum effervescence.

  3. Get your proportions right: according to our experts, the optimum ratio is one part gin to three parts tonic.

  4. Keep it cool: store your mixer in the fridge and fill your glass with ice. Bigger pieces of ice will keep your drink colder and undiluted for longer.

  5. Add the final flourish: pick the right citrus fruit for your gin and tonic.

    • Lemon: a slice at the bottom of the glass or a twist of peel on top is best. This is a classic companion to gin, complementing the dryness of tonic water.

    • Lime: the preferred choice for a gin and slimline tonic, as the slightly more acidic lime helps to cut through the sweetness of the artificial sugar substitutes

    • Grapefruit: an underutilised citrus that can bring an interesting flavour to a gin and tonic. Use a slice or run some peel around the rim of the glass to give your drink a fragrant edge.


Notes to Editors:

  • For the full table of results, including in the £20+ category, plus more advice on choosing and serving gin, visit: http://which.co.uk/gin

  • The Which? expert panel comprised:

    • Ian Wisniewski, spirits writer and consultant

    • Neil Ridley, drinks writer, presenter and consultant

    • David T Smith, writer, gin specialist and spirits judge

    • Ian Buxton, drinks consultant, commentator and author

  • Which? tested 11 gins (70cl) widely available costing up to £20 (both supermarket and brand label) and eight brand name gins (70cl) widely available at between £20 and £26 (results available here). The scores from the two sets of gins are not directly comparable

  • Gin prices correct as at 4th October 2018

  • The panel tasted the gins blind, first trying them neat and then as a gin and tonic

  • Each gin was scored and weighted as follows:

    • Palate (50%)

    • Nose/aroma (25%)

    • Finish (25%)

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