One of the nice things about managing an international spirits competition is the ability to experience the best of what distillers present worldwide.

Our panel of expert tasters rated dozens of beautiful gins in our Spring 2023 Barleycorn Awards, and here are some of our favorites from around the planet, each showcasing their sense of place through their botanicals and other innovations.

Piucinque Gin

Origin: Veneto, Italy
Vitals: 94 Proof (47% ABV); $45

Piucinque founders attribute this wheat-based gin’s dry and crispy nature to its artisanal discontinuous bain-marie distillation process. But we love the distinct Italian vibe from bergamot and sage, which join forces with Juniper, ginger root, zedoary, angelica, artemisia, almond, cytrus extracts, and orris root to round out Piucinque’s 10 botanical recipe. The result is a “round and bouncy gin,” delivering “clean, crisp aromas with a unique herbal presence on the nose” and a “solid pop of juniper” on the palate, “as a proper gin should.

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Rabbit Hole Bespoke Gin Finished in Boxergrail Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Barrels

Origin: Louisville, Kentucky
Vitals: 89 Proof (44.5% ABV); $50

This “reimagined classic” by Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville asks its drinkers to clear their minds of what they expect in a London Dry before sipping this barrel-aged version. And our judging panel was on board, awarding this “unique and interesting” gin a double gold medal in our spring competition. This gin is made with imported London Dry, barrel aged in Boxergrail Kentucky Straight Rye barrels. The result is a decidedly “restrained” oak influence, delivering “clean, gingery rye bread” aromas but “still manages to be crisp and gin-like” on the palate. Well played.

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Citadelle Original Gin

Origin: Ars, Cognac, France
Vitals: 88 Proof (44% ABV); $30

Here is the original Citadelle Gin, created in France by Alexandre Gabriel in 1996. Twenty-seven years later, Citadelle still crushes it on the competition circuit, winning Best Gin in our Spring Barleycorn Awards. It takes 19 botanicals to create Citadelle’s flavor profile, including a healthy dose of lemon, giving this “bright and happy gin” its signature vibe. The final product is a “nice gin with juniper and citrus aromas in pleasant balance, and flavors filled with pine and citrus mingling with coriander and sage notes.”

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Highclere Castle Gin

Origin: Hampshire, England
Vitals: 87 Proof (43.5% ABV); $40

On the site where Downton Abbey was filmed is the storied Langley Distillery at Highclere Castle, makers of the oldest gin in England. Langley Distillery: The 10 botanicals in this “lush and classic” London Dry are harvested from Highclere Castle’s estate, a recipe struck upon by Highclere founders, the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and spirits entrepreneur Adam von Gootkin. One Barleyciorn judge requested this in a “dry, but not too dry, martini, stirred with a twist.”

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Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin

Origin: Uttar Pradesh, India
Vitals: 86 Proof (43% ABV); $50

Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin was launched by Radico Khaitan, one of India’s oldest and largest whisky distillers in 2018. What we have here is a rice base spirit cooked in a pot still and infused with 11 Indian botanicals: Coriander, vetiver, sweet orange peel, cubeb berries, lemon grass, Darjeeling green tea leaves, lemon peel, angelica roots, licorice, and caraway seeds. The result is a gin with a “layered and intriguing nose of multiple botanicals that is just as interesting on the tongue with a creaminess that continues into the finish.”

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Spirits writers, marketers and designers are among the most influential forces in the spirits industry. Their opinions, ideas and creative talents inform and influence consumer perceptions and buying decisions. The John Barleycorn Society was started by a group of spirits journalists seeking to honor excellence in all facets of the industry. The journalists spent several years creating a comprehensive competition that became the John Barleycorn Awards. An elite team of authoritative and influential spirits journalists was selected to administer the flagship component of the Awards, a blind tasting competition destined to become the preeminent arbitrator of spirits taste, quality and character.