SpiritsHandpicked by IWSC

12 top London Dry gins to try

With expressive citrus notes and a distinctive juniper core, there's a reason the classic style of gin continues to flourish. Here are 12 of the best London Dry gins from the IWSC 2022

Words by IWSC Judges

Photography by IWSC Judges

london dry gin
Handpicked by IWSC

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when gin – and its signature London Dry gin style – was even more popular than it is now. Back in the late 17th Century after heavy taxations on French wine and Cognac, tax breaks were given to those working in spirits production, which resulted in a ‘Gin Craze’, as ordinary citizens began distilling their own spirits. Gin became a cheap commodity and went essentially unmoderated (with some home brews containing sawdust, turpentine, and even sulphuric acid). As a result, a distiller’s licence was brought in, as well as regulations on gin production. Fast-forward to the 1800s, and standards were raised again thanks to the arrival of the Coffey still, which led to the birth of London Dry gin, a more consistent style rich with botanical flavours.

brighton london dry gin
London Dry gin can be made anywhere in the world, like this top-scoring gin from the IWSC 2022 - produced in Brighton, a city on England's south coast

Although the history of London Dry gin lies in England’s capital, while perusing the list below, you might notice that not all the gins featured are produced in the city. Despite its name, this style of gin doesn’t have to be made in London, and instead points to strict production rules and a juniper-forward flavour. Producers can only use natural botanicals and a neutral base alcohol of 96% ABV for distillation, and nothing should be added post-distillation other than water. Plus, the final product should have a minimum strength of 37.5%.

Brighton Spirits topped the IWSC London Dry gin category this year, with their Seaside Strength Gin, which scored 98 points and earned a Gold medal. The judges were impressed by the gin’s ‘beautifully blended botanicals’ and ‘juicy burst of fresh citrus on the palate.’

In the slightly spicier realm, Opihr Aromatic Bitters Gin also earned a Gold medal with 98 points for its ‘lovely light lemon notes,’ plus a ‘well-balanced palate with cardamom, a soft butteriness and pepper’. For fans of a classic, juniper-laden gin, there’s Whitley Neill Connoisseur’s Cut Gin, which also scored Gold with 95 points and boasts ‘an attractively discreet nose with lifted floral nuances and delicate aromatics.’

All of the gins in this list were tasted blind by a panel of industry experts, including Rachel Sutherland from Warner’s Distillery, FINE+RARE‘s head of spirits sales Scott Bird and spirits writer Bernadette Pamplin. Keep reading below for the winning London Dry gins from the IWSC 2022.

london dry gin

HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE SPIRITS?

We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.

HOW DO WE SCORE THESE SPIRITS?

Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.

MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE

Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.