If you are not participating in dry January, why not embrace another current drinking trend – Gin-uary? Times drinks editor James Viner picks his six favourite tipples

A gin-aissance continues to flourish in the UK as one in three people say that the spirit once known as Madam Geneva is their tipple of choice. Gin sales have doubled in value over the last six years, reaching £1.2billion in the 12 months to the end of September 2017, according to the most recent market report from the Wine and Spirit Trade association [WSTA].

Forty seven million bottles of gin were bought in the UK in the 12 months to last September – seven million more than in the same period in 2016. That’s the equivalent of 1.32 billion G&Ts being drunk in the past year. In addition to this, 45 new distilleries opened in 2016 – a rise of nearly a fifth – bringing the total number in the UK to around 280.

Here are my top six gin offerings to try…

1 LOCAL HERO
Professor Cornelius Ampleforth Bathtub Gin, Tunbridge Wells, Kent (£29.99-£33, Amazon/ Morrisons/Waitrose, 70cl)

The World Gin Awards 2014 announced this very
decent Tunbridge Wells gin as the World’s Best Compound Gin. It’s made using the traditional method of cold compounding/dry hopping, which infuses a range of botanicals,
including coriander, cloves and cinnamon, in a copper still, creating its astonishing flavour. Not my first choice for a G&T, but Bathtub Gin really comes into its own when used in a French 75 or a very respectable Martini or Negroni. Each bottle is tastefully packaged entirely by hand using paper, twine and wax. Alc 43.3%

2 MUST-TRY BARGAIN PREMIUM GIN
Topaz Blue Premium London Dry Gin
(£13.99, Aldi, 70cl)

A revelation and spotless all-rounder to stock up for Gin-uary on your next Aldi shop, this inexpensive, smallbatch supermarket gin is classically bright and citrusy. The pronounced
juniper hit works extremely well, giving it a welcome kick that makes for a deliciously rounded G&T and luxurious Negroni (with a classic ratio of 1:1:1 gin/sweet vermouth/ Campari). Utterly exceptional value for a top-quality gin – do not hesitate. There’s no denying that you get a great taste for a great price. Your drinks cupboard deserves this bargain! Alc 40%

3 HIGH STREET CHOICE Co-op Irresistible London Dry Gin (£16 until Jan 23, then £17.49, 70cl)

Sixteen botanicals in this mix make for an exceptionally sophisticated own-label premium supermarket gin. Crafted by one of just a very small group of female British master distillers, this corker is expertly balanced with juniper berries and fragrant botanicals, including cardamom and coriander. There’s a delightful exotic spiciness here as well, alongside bursts of citrus. Serve it with a wheel of orange and ginger ale, or simply with tonic and a slice of grapefruit, for a great G&T. Top value for the quality, ace from the
Co-op! Alc 40%

4 LIDL BEAUTY
Hortus Artisan London Dry Gin (£15.99, Lidl, 70cl)

Lip-smackingly clean and balanced with discreetly complex notes of lavender, rosehip,  citrus and orange, this would make a fantastic gin fizz and G&T. Juniper is a constant presence and discloses its piney guise. Skilfully distilled in Warrington using traditional
copper stills, it’s further testament to Lidl’s mission for superior bargains. Very decent gin for a snip of a price and a must-try. Alc 40%

5 KENTISH KNOCKOUT
Copper Rivet Distillery Dockyard Chatham Dry Gin (£28-£32, Whisky Exchange/Dulwich Vintners, 50cl)

Sublime, sophisticated and silky, this garden-fresh, complex and intense Kentish gin brims with tangy Italian juniper notes that are reinforced by Spanish orange and Italian lemon peel characters, with further botanical backing from Bulgarian coriander, local elderflower, European angelica/orris root and green cardamoms. African Grains of Paradise add a wondrous piquant depth. It’s just the ticket served over ice with your
favourite mixer and a slice of pink grapefruit/sprig of rosemary for a great G&T. Very classy stuff crafted by a master distiller who studied and taught at Edinburgh’s renowned Heriot-Watt University, it makes all the time Martini time. Alc 41.2%

6 BEAUTIFULLY BOLD ARTISANAL GIN FROM MARDEN
Anno 60 Squared Gin, Marden (£50-£52 Amazon/Master of Malt/The Drink Shop, 70cl)

This is a remarkable and quite brilliant spirit from Kent’s first micro-distillery, the first to distil gin in the county for over 200 years. There’s such a flavour intensity here, which edges to the flavours of juniper, citrus, spice and Kentish hops. It’s hard to beat this superlative earthy and woody gin deployed in a G&T (1724 tonic water is ideal) – impossibly delectable and beautifully refreshing. Also, an excellent Martini bedfellow. One of my favourites and Kentish excellence that you need to taste. Splash out, it’s worth it, and will tantalise your taste buds. Alc 60%

Gin Distillery Tour at Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham’s Maritime Marina (ME4 4LP)
Opened in October 2016, this familyrun craft distillery – which occupies a Grade II listed Victorian building at Chatham Dockyard – is one of only six in the UK to control the whole
distillation process from grain to glass. It’s open all year round for relaxed drinks, lunches, fabulous tours and corporate functions where you can learn how they distil spirits and discover the secrets behind the botanicals. Hourlong distillery tours and tastings (don’t
miss out on the award-winning Vela vodka) take place Thursday-Sunday. Book online or call 01634 931122. What a fab birthday present for the gin hound in your life! £12 per person. www.copperrivetdistillery.com/tours Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine