Gilbey’s Gin

Gilbey's GinGilbey’s Gin recipe dates to the 1870s, when the Gilbey brothers, two veterans of the Crimean war, whose successful wine/spirits merchant business had thrived throughout the second half of the 19th century, expanded their business to include the eponymous gin (called Gilbey’s since 1895). Distilled from grain neutral spirits, it purportedly contains 12 botanicals. It was so popular that the rights to distill it were sold to the US in the 1930s and it has been distilled domestically since then. Currently the rights are owned by Beam Suntory, and the gin has a reputation for being somewhat… inexpensive. 1.75 L can be found for often less than $20, and the smaller sizes can be had for just a few bucks, often appearing in plastic bottles.

But let us not judge a book by its cover. How is Gilbey’s Gin?

Tasting Notes

The nose is classic with plenty of juniper, with orange zest and angelica present as well. The lower notes have the bright, sappy, angelica still accompanied by the orange. The nose is simple, but familiar and inviting. I don’t think I would guess the price by the nose. It’s fresh and generally quite positive.

The palate is assertive and sharp, with lots of classic gin botanicals making an appearance: pine-forward juniper, bitter orange rind, coriander mid-palate— surprisingly obvious for a second and then quickly vanishing from consciousness— the finish is sharply citrus with a mineral-tinged, calciferous/slightly chalky astringency. Quite dry, with a roar of heat that is more expected at this price point.

The finish is moderately long, with that orange/citrus note enduring.

Cocktails

Gilbey’s Gin mixes quite well, and in cocktails, its harsher side is quelled and restrained. More juniper comes forward in cocktails like the gin and tonic, though its harshness, especially towards the finish is why I might be reluctant to recommend it in a martini. As far as mixed drinks go, for a gin that suits the gin and juice, gin and lemonade or gin and grapefruit soda mindset, this works pretty well. For cocktails, I might look elsewhere.

Overall

However, Gilbey’s Gin not without its merit. At the price point, Gilbey’s is acceptable and gets the job done. I recommend it for your next house party, I’d suggest looking elsewhere for your next cocktail party.

7 thoughts on “Gilbey’s Gin

  • November 30, -0001by Michael Swearingen

    This is my favorite Gin, I like it more than the expensive name brands. It has a real Gin flavor

  • November 30, -0001by Randy Warren

    I’ve only recently begun drinking gin again. An incident as a young man, and a 3 day hangover, steered me away from it, till now. After trying several of the lower shelf offerings, I would rank this as just ok. It does alright, if you mix it a bit stronger than normal. 2 1/2 shots instead of just 2 for instance. If you’re on a budget, you could do a lot worse than this, and pretty good in a Gin & Tonic too…

  • October 12, 2015by David Schofield

    Aaron,
    Impressive review, I certainly have difficulty pulling out all the notes and nuances you found in this Gin. Overall this is a good party Gin for long drinks at a very good price point but as you say, not for a cocktail party.
    Regards, David.

  • January 1, 2017by Roger

    Hi there Aaron

    I have spent years trying to perfect my take on a great dry martini.
    In spite of trying the far more expensive London drys I believe Gilbeys / Martini extra dry is the perfect combo at a three to one ratio.
    I add four or five Manzilla olives (very salty) a teaspoon of brine, and loads of crushed ice……IN THE GLASS!
    Naturally you have to down it relatively quickly before the ice dilutes the magic.

    Why Gilbeys then? It’s super dry and clean and citrusy……..a proper Loondon dry as it should be.
    I am not into all these new world additions in terms of botanicals, they just muddy the flavor.

    Give it a try!

    Regards Roger

  • January 17, 2018by Anonymous

    We’re here in the Philippines on holiday and I was looking for a small bottle of acceptable gin, so I tried this one. Hands down a real bargain, making sure to use an ample amount of tonic in the drink. Checking the label, this gin is made in…South Korea! Clearly a local bargain, I have no qualms about using this as a party gin as the price point was spot on and the quality clearly acceptable.

  • June 20, 2018by Pam

    My mother was a gilbey,we always had the classic gin in our drinks cupboard and she always said that we were linked to this famous chain .best drank ice cold with a tonic-lemon.cheers to the gilbeys that have all gone before us!

  • August 26, 2019by Nora

    Did a “brown bag” blind taste test of 6 popular Gin spirits with a group of friends and, surprise!, Gilbey’s won hands-down. Refreshing and not too botanical like so many others (they “try too hard to impress”). Some would say, “so just drink vodka if you want ‘plain’ ,” but Gilbey’s had just enough hints of botanicals to make it interesting. Thank you for the breakdown of what’s in it– very interesting! Glad I found your website

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