THE GIN GUIDE FOUNDER
Launched in 2014, The Gin Guide is a who’s who of the best gins and gin distilleries in the world. The site aims to help people in their gin-fuelled explorations while suggesting new producers and uncovering the bottles that bartenders return to time and time again. We caught up with its London-based editor – spirits judge and writer Paul Jackson – for this edition’s Ginsider.
What was your introduction to gin?
Many years ago, a friend of mine ordered a G&T when we were at a bar. I was intrigued so I ordered the same, and the rest is history. From there it was gin bars such as Two One Four in Bermondsey that were ahead of the game and were catalysts for my discovery of gin. I was quickly captivated by the diversity and quality of the emerging gin market, which at the time was still comparatively small and growing under the radar.
Do you have a preferred way to drink gin?
Different gins and different moods always inspire different servings. However, you’ll often catch me with a classic G&T, a Negroni, or a Martinez – a hugely underrated gin cocktail. I’m happiest with simple and high-quality servings that allow the spirits to shine through.
Where do you go when you want to discover a new gin?
My inbox! Everyday I’m introduced to new gins from across the world. It’s still so exciting to hear about them, to get to know the teams behind the gins and to become part of their journey. The Gin Guide HQ is home to many hundreds of quality gins, and London has some great cocktail bars that always have something new or special hidden away.
Why did you establish The Gin Guide?
When first discovering gin I couldn’t find the impartial information, tasting notes, recommendations, advice and insights I was looking for. So I created The Gin Guide as a platform to enable gin lovers to learn more about their favourite gins and discover new gins, meanwhile helping quality gin producers have a voice and tell their stories. It’s all about supporting and celebrating the gin industry and the exceptional products, distilleries and people in it.
What does your personal gin collection look like?
It looks more like a gin problem than a gin collection! And in terms of storage it really is a problem – London property prices unfortunately don’t cater for needing a gin cellar. It’s such a privilege to have a personal collection of incredible spirits to enjoy and share, including some limited edition, vintage and first-batch gins that are very special.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what three gins would you bring with you and why?
With so many favourites I could never truly narrow it down to three. At a recent tasting we hosted, gins from Biggar (made at Strathearn Distillery) and Greensand Ridge – both based in the UK – and Underground Spirits from Canberra got the popular vote.
What makes the London gin scene so exciting?
You can’t move for gin bars, distilleries, events, festivals, tours, pop-ups and even boat cruises in London. So many of them are worthy and wonderful, despite the need to watch out for a few gimmicks here and there. There’s nowhere else you can find so many opportunities and different ways to discover and enjoy gins from around the world – this city has truly embraced the spirit.
Any signature gin cocktail recipes you’d like to share?
Last year we developed a Rose Gold Martini (pictured above) as part of a collaboration with That Boutique-y Gin Company, with 50mL of gin, 20mL of dry white vermouth, 15mL of Campari and a single drop of orange bitters – stirred well with ice and served in a chilled martini glass or coupe. Delicious!
What do you look for in a great bar?
The very best bars have a real understanding of spirits, cocktails and their customers. To stand out above the rest, a winning combination is to have knowledgeable and skilled bartenders who are passionate about their work, along with a setting with personality, an enticing range of spirits, and both classic and creative cocktails. When a bar has an amazing backdrop like the copper stills on show – like at the City of London Distillery’s bar – it’s a real bonus too.
What was the last bottle of gin you bought and why?
Gin is never in short supply at The Gin Guide HQ, but I did buy a bottle of Old Bakery Gin recently – I’ve known the team there since they launched in 2016. I spotted a bottle in a wine shop and realised I hadn’t had their gin in a little while. Plus ‘The Gin Guide Awards Winner’ sticker on the bottle caught my eye!
If you could travel to any city or country in the world to sample their gin, where would it be?
Gin is reaching every corner of the world and some of the gins being produced in the likes of Australia, South Africa and Europe are simply stunning. The Gin Guide’s ‘World of Gin’ series features distillers and gins from different countries that you may not associate with gin, and through that I’ve become intrigued by Japan’s growing interest in gin and gin production. So I’d love to visit Japan to investigate that more. Hopefully we’ll see Japan in the Gin Journal soon!
For gin reviews, news, interviews, tasting notes, industry insights, events and more, visit theginguide.com and