The Best Southern-Made Gins
While Southerners are known to geek out over bourbons and whiskeys, less attention is paid to what is equally as important of a spirit to Southern cocktails: gin. Whether it’s a cold, lime-spritzed gin and tonic, a bubbly French 75, or a frothy Ramos Gin Fizz, gin, with its crisp botanical and citrusy undertones, keeps the South feeling refreshed during steamy summers. Although there are plenty of gins from across the pond and up North that deserve your sampling (The Botanist Islay Dry Gin, Hendrick’s, and Leopold Bros. being a few favorites), there’s also a bevy of bottles made in the South that are worthy of space on the bar cart and often find their way into cocktails at some of the country’s best bars. These are our top 10.
Jackson, Mississippi; bristowgin.com
This Mississippi-made gin has become a standard spirit not just for our own home bars, but cocktail bars across the South. Accessible and affordable, this is the gateway gin for newcomers or those rediscovering their taste for it.
Hugh Wesley’s Gin
John Emerald Distilling Co.
Opelika, Alabama; johnemeralddistilling.com
Much like their Single Malt Alabama Whiskey, John Emerald Distilling’s gin has the same thoughtfully picked ingredients (literally in this case with hand-picked Alabama juniper berries) and small-batch process. While bottles are hard to find too far from Opelika, this distillery is Alabama roadtrip-worthy.
Hat Trick Extraordinarily Fine Botanical Gin
Highwire Distilling Co.
Charleston, South Carolina; highwiredistilling.com
While this gin still has the juniper-forward taste it’s known for, added elements of licorice root, angelica root, coriander, and cardamom round out the flavor for something more earthy and bright than piney. Try it in a Moscow Mule in place of vodka.
Alabama Cotton Gin
Redmont Distilling Co.
Birmingham, Alabama; redmontdistilling.com
This new distillery adds organic, Alabama-grown cotton along with coriander, orange peel, and grains of paradise for a spirit that truly speaks to a sense of place.
Southern Style Gin
San Antonio, Texas; seersuckergin.com
The spritzy hint of mint in this gin makes it akin to a glass of sweet tea garnished with a sprig of Kentucky Colonel. It doesn’t hurt that the bottle is pretty enough that you’ll want to leave it out on the counter.
New World Gin
St. Augustine Distillery
St. Augustine, Florida; staugustinedistillery.com
Herbs and lemon peel, ground with a vintage burr hand grinder, give this gin megawatt brightness that instantly elevates a Tom Collins.
Old St. Pete Tropical Gin
St. Petersburg Distillery
St. Petersburg, Florida; stpetersburgdistillery.com
Made with grapefruits, lemons, and oranges, this super citrusy gin shows off the fruits of Florida. This bottle works well for batched cocktails or gin-based punches.
Barrel Aged Gin
Smooth Ambler Spirits
Greenbrier County, West Virginia; smoothambler.com
Barrel Aged Gins get their darker color and deeper, toasty flavors from aging in used whiskey and bourbon barrels where they pick up more caramel and oak notes. For an introduction to Barrel Aged Gin, this edition from Smooth Ambler has a “lemon meringue” taste.
Bowling Green, Kentucky; corsairdistillery.com
Made in hand-hammered copper still, Corsair’s artisan gin has a slightly more spicy and peppery quality to provide contrast and balance in sweeter cocktails.