Gordon’s Dry London Gin – history and review

Gordon’s Dry London Gin – history and review


A classic and enduringly popular gin that everyone loves, including your blogger, Gordon’s Special Dry London Gin is one of the best-known spirits on the planet.  This gin is zingy and refreshing, with a hint of coriander coming through the juniper taste – finishing with that famous lemony bite.

Of Scottish descent, Alexander Gordon began distilling gin in Southwark, London, in 1769. And, as the company he created says, it is still one of the “ginniest” gins available: thanks to the high juniper content; berries which to this day are picked by hand to ensure quality.

The Gordon’s sold to us Brits was cut from 40ABV to 37.5back in 1992 to bring it in line with other big selling clear spirits like vodka and white rum, while also cutting production costs. It remains at 40in the USA while our continental counterparts are fed a 47distillation.

Even that is a long way short of the 57mark which is accepted to define a navy strength gin; and it was the Royal Navy’s taste for the stuff which helped take Gordon’s to the colonies and other far flung parts of the globe by the early 1800s.

Interestingly, ‘Ex-pats’ and other foreign buyers can still view their Gordon’s through clear glass, but the distinctive flat faced, green bottle was introduced for use in the home market in 1904.

“Gordon’s was a pioneer in the cocktail space, launching the first Cocktail Shaker bottle in 1924 in response to the growing trend for cocktail parties; but people not being sure on how to make them correctly.”

And this may be one of the reasons that the Queen’s grandfather, George V granted Gordons a Royal Warrant the following year.

A distinctive taste, Royal patronage and good British business sense are amongst the many reasons the brand continued to grow in popularity both here and abroad. Gordon’s duly became the world’s top selling gin in 1962, and today remains one of the biggest earners for current owners, Diageo.

The 1960s saw some very clever and amusing advertising campaigns, while in more recent times the company has been a sponsor of motor sport and the Turner Prize for modern art. Presumably attracted by sharing a name, the company even backed a TV series featuring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

As recently as 2017 the company released Gordon’s Pink to appeal to a wider, possibly younger market; though there have been many ‘specials’ that have appeared down the decades. They include Old Tom Gin and spirits flavoured with cucumber, lemon, orange and peppermint.

Personally, I’d be very keen to get my hands on a bottle of the 2004 Distiller’s Cut: a luxury version with additional botanicals, lemongrass and ginger. Sounds wonderful.

The company recommends serving its gin with Indian tonic water, ice and a wedge of lime, which should be squeezed first before being dropped into a highball glass. Fever Tree meanwhile suggests trying this gin with its Aromatic Tonic and lime – both tastes are delicious.