Ginebra San Miguel

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As far as I know, Ginebra San Miguel (Saint Michael’s Gin) might be the only gin in the world to also be the name of a basketball team. Well since the Gordon’s Gin Boars and Gilbey’s Gin Gimlets changed names. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel plays in the Philippine Basketball Association. And the gin they’re named after is the best-selling gin in the world. Unless you’re a gin geek, its understandable that you’ve never heard of it. As a nation the Philippines drinks the most gin per capita, and the great majority of that is Ginebra San Miguel. It is also very uncommon among gins in that it’s base spirit is cane [like rum].

Ginebra San Miguel is available in several versions, including a slightly more upscale “Premium” version.

Special Thanks for David T. Smith for sharing his bottle with me when I visited London last month.

Tasting Notes

The nose of Ginebra San Miguel has recognizable juniper with a harsh edge. Low notes with a little bit of spice, pepper, coriander, acetone and salt. The palate is initially quiet, with sweet straw, a slight pine-forward edge to the juniper, but a little bit flat with an acrid, chemical after taste. The overall quality of the spirit is itself a little rough and thin. Aftertaste is chemical sweet straw, reminiscent of inexpensive vodka.


Overall, on its own, its a pretty rough drink. I didn’t mix up any cocktails with it, though I’d wager mixing might be an absolute necessity with Ginebra San Miguel to cover up the chemical notes. It’s a rather rough drink and hard to recommend as a gin based on the glass I sampled.

Though it is rather inexpensive, so it has that going for it.

Overall, Ginebra San Miguel

A novelty for gin collectors with a curious streak more than anything. Ginebra San Miguel is a rough gin, and what it does to distinguish itself from other inexpensive gins, it doesn’t do for the better.

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16 thoughts on “Ginebra San Miguel”

  1. This is a straightforward Gin produced by distilling sugarcane rather than grain. I particularly like the sugarcane production it lends a sweetness and a distinct Juniper flavor and aroma! However not suited for the devoted British gin lovers. I find this product of excellent quality and delicious exclamation point

  2. It’s utter rubbish. Only sells here in the Philippines due to its very low price suiting the meager income of so many (150 pesos or near for the average bottle). It also is guaranteed to give a hangover if imbibing a little too much.
    You should have also noted that Gin should be made from Grain Alcohol only & you have made a mistake in not highlighting this.

  3. Gins must derive their primary flavoring characteristic from juniper, primarily among the botanicals. There are many gins out there which feature non-traditional base spirits, including apple, potato, pear, agave, grape, carrot, honey and yes, even cane. This is one of the peculiar aspects of gin- as its defined by its flavoring, its one of the few spirits where the base spirit is open to experimentation as much as the botanicals.

    Though, to your point, this is a more progressive stance. Traditionally speaking, gin is distilled from grain and gin really became gin, once it was distilled via grain instead of wine. This limitation does not (legally) apply in most places; however, I can’t condemn a taste preference that I think you, and many other readers might share.


  4. Yes, a little!

    Thanks for the compliment and comment. It seems a few others are as well- we may be getting in a few more smaller reviews, in addition to the full-on reviews going forward.


  5. Bought a bottle in Las Vegas, NV. Imported by InternationalDistillers and Vinters, Everett, WA. I little different but makes a very palatable Martini or Gibson.

  6. I just found a bottle of this cleaning out my dad’s bar. Still sealed, dated 1968! Wonder if it’s worth anything…?

  7. I wonder if Ginebra San Miguel changed the recipe over time? For a product made since the 19th century and described as a Dutch style genever, it tastes more like a bottom shelf Jonge. May do fine as a mix but don’t try it in a kopstootje.

  8. 1996 I had a night in a Philippines jungle village on ginebra with the villagers and exploration camp guys. I wanted to die for the next three days. Never been more hungover and ill. The pigs intestines boiled in jugular blood didnt do a lot for me either.

  9. Though the word itself means “gin,” ginebra sometimes informally refers to moonshine (especially off the beaten path). Unless it came from a San Miguel bottle, it could well have been the other use of ginebra.

  10. Ni som ej gillar denna måste ju ha väldigt dåliga smaklökar, denna Gin är bland de bästa jag druckit pga den mer söta efter smaken och inte så stark eftersmak som man kan må dåligt av vid för många glas som många andra dyrare Gin har, dessutom bra pris som sagt, och du som spydde i 3 dagar , va nog snarare maten du åt i kombination med för mycket Gin troligen, förmodligen en dålig kock.

  11. Lately and often I’ve decided to keep my gin in the fridge to it’s chilled…
    At times I’ve place the bottle inside the freezer and 2 hours later it’s frozen…
    Only my first and second drink taste like pronounced standard, why does the rest of the bottle taste like it is watered down like I can literally drink it directly from the bottle🧐🤔

  12. I don’t blame the company, San Miguel, for making Ginebra the way it is. I want it to be better. I want it to be recognised as one of the world’s best but the market demands otherwise.

    It’s inexpensive. For less than $5.00 you already have a pitcher full of gin mixed with their favourite powder juice drink with ice. A small group of people could now enjoy the cocktail.

    It’s accessible to most Filipinos, from the your local drunkard on the street to the college kid who just started drinking.