On the rocks or with a splash of tonic, gin is the perfect summer sipper. The liquor's bright citrus flavors are tempered by the cool, piney bite of juniper, making it a refreshing choice when the temperature is in the triple digits. We sampled three small batch gins that all stand up solidly to the summer heat.
Leopold's American Small Batch Gin, $35.60
Instead of distilling its botanicals in the same still, Leopold's "distills juniper, coriander, pummelo, orris root and Valencia orange separately to extract the best flavors." Heavy on the juniper, Leopold's also boasts plenty of citrus on the nose, which one taster described as "the essence of orange juice." It has a smooth palate and dry finish, which led one taster to call it "great lawn mowing gin."
Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin, $37.45
Distilled in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, Catoctin Creek is crafted from organic rye and wheat. It has a fair amount of heat on the nose, with spicy notes of cardamom and cinnamon followed by a waft of juniper and mild hint of chlorine. With a full body and a substantial boozy bite, tasters claimed this gin "will put hair on your chest."
Junipero Gin, $39.45
From craft beer pioneers Anchor Distilling Co. in San Francisco, Junipero is created in a small copper pot still using more than a dozen botanicals. It has a higher proof (98.6) than the other gins we sampled, and the extra heat makes itself known on the nose. The booziness dissipates on a viscous palate with a pleasant sweetness and dry, pine needle-y coolness that lingers nicely. One taster compared it to "melted snow in a pine forest."