Gin
Oh, thankfully there is a juniper berry.  As the primary ingredient in the wonderful spirit known as gin, it has brought more happiness to more people than most any other berry can claim (if berries were claiming things).  Most of the flavoring to gin can be attributed to these little buggers, although other botanicals are used, as well.
THE BRIEF HISTORY OF GIN
Originally manufactured by Franciscus de la Boe (a.k.a. Dr. Sylvius) in the 1600s at Holland’s famed University of Leyden, this spirit was intended to be for medicinal purposes due to the juniper berry’s reputation as a diuretic.  Oh, it started being medicinal in no time, to be sure.  People were mysteriously falling ill to a number of maladies claiming that only Dr. Sylvius’ medicine would cure them.  Sylvius named it Genièvre, the French name for the juniper berry.  The English later shortened it to gin.
MAKING GIN
I’ll give you the broad strokes:  Neutral grain alcohol is diluted with water to reach a proof of 120.  This is passed into a still where it is evaporated by heat from a steam coil.  The alcohol vapors pass
Home Whiskey Brandy/Cognac Gin Liqueur Tequila Vodka
through the still head containing the juniper berries and any number of additional “botanicals” (the distillery’s recipe is usually a secret).  Some of the time, the berries and botanicals are mixed directly into the grain alcohol in the still.  Then the vapors pass into a condenser where it liquefies into the spirit we now know and love as gin and into a storage tank, where its proof may be adjusted further, if needed
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE IN DRY, EXTRA-DRY, and LONDON DRY GIN?
Nothing.  The geographical significance of London Dry Gin (at one time, almost all gin came from the London area) no longer means anything, since even American gin distillers put it on their label.  Also, the term “dry” and its many variations on gin labels are rather meaningless, too, as almost all English and American gins are equally dry.
WHICH GIN SHOULD I BUY?
Like any other liquor, it really depends on what you’re willing to spend and what you intend to use it for.  Although gin is reasonably priced (even for the premium brands), some people just can’t drop $25-30 on a fifth of anything.  There are alternatives, of course, but treat yourself to the best you can afford, especially if you are going to be drinking it straight or in a martini.  If you’re going to partake in some refreshing gin and tonics on a warm summer evening, you don’t have to go all the way, as the tonic water tends to have its way with whatever gin you use.  So, I’ve broken down the gins into my usual four categories:  Ultimate, Top Shelf, Middle Class, and Budget Models.  The prices listed are the range you will find a 750mL bottle for in my home state of Oregon.  Prices will vary around the world, of course.
The Best Gin:
ULTIMATE GINS:
Plymouth  ($25) - A gin style all unto itself and one of the best gin experiences you'll have.  Plymouth will make your gin martini a wonderful treat. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Magellan  ($30) – A naturally blue gin (unlike Bombay Sapphire, where only the bottle is blue), Magellan has gained popularity recently amongst gin aficionados.
Citadelle  ($30) – No longer available in Oregon, which is a shame due to it being a wonderfully smooth and flavorful gin.
Quintessential  ($30) – Also discontinued in Oregon, this is a fine gin that is worth looking for.
Hendrick’s  ($25) – A Scottish gin that has the “gimmick” of being infused with cucumber and rose petals.
Tanqueray Ten  ($25-28) – Tanqueray’s beautifully bottled, exceptional gin that is far better than their everyday gin.
Bombay Sapphire  ($24) – The grand companion to regular Bombay, it is widely advertised and consumed.  May be the most well known gin around…and may deserve to be. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Baffert's  ($25) – Relatively new to Oregon and myself, it's got a rabid fan base...if limited.  It goes very light on the botanicals that are gin's signature, making Baffert's very nearly a vodka...but with a gin taste.
TOP SHELF GINS:
Bombay  ($19-21) – Still a fine gin, even if it isn’t Sapphire.
Tanqueray  ($18-20) – Doesn’t come close to Tanqueray Ten, but it doesn’t disappoint, either.
Beefeater  ($16-19) – A well-recognized gin due to its longevity, but Beefeater might just be your grandaddy’s gin of choice.  There’s better gins, but this one’s a staple.
Boodle’s  ($18-19)  Doesn’t have the name recognition, but deserves to be in this class.
MIDDLE CLASS:
Gordon’s  ($10) – A good mixing gin, although martinis aren’t out of the question, either.
Seagram’s  ($10) – About the same quality as Gordon’s.
BUDGET MODELS:  (good for mixing and buying for a large party)
Gilbey’s  ($8)
Burnett’s  ($8)
Booth’s  ($8)
Gin
Gin
Oh, thankfully there is a juniper berry.  As the primary ingredient in the wonderful spirit known as gin, it has brought more happiness to more people than most any other berry can claim (if berries were claiming things).  Most of the flavoring to gin can be attributed to these little buggers, although other botanicals are used, as well.

THE BRIEF HISTORY OF GIN

Originally manufactured by Franciscus de la Boe (a.k.a. Dr. Sylvius) in the 1600s at Holland’s famed University of Leyden, this spirit was intended to be for medicinal purposes due to the juniper berry’s reputation as a diuretic.  Oh, it started being medicinal in no time, to be sure.  People were mysteriously falling ill to a number of maladies claiming that only Dr. Sylvius’ medicine would cure them.  Sylvius named it Genièvre, the French name for the juniper berry.  The English later shortened it to gin.

MAKING GIN

I’ll give you the broad strokes:  Neutral grain alcohol is diluted with water to reach a proof of 120.  This is passed into a still where it is evaporated by heat from a steam coil.  The alcohol vapors pass
through the still head containing the juniper berries and any number of additional “botanicals” (the distillery’s recipe is usually a secret).  Some of the time, the berries and botanicals are mixed directly into the grain alcohol in the still.  Then the vapors pass into a condenser where it liquefies into the spirit we now know and love as gin and into a storage tank, where its proof may be adjusted further, if needed

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE IN DRY, EXTRA-DRY, and LONDON DRY GIN?

Nothing.  The geographical significance of London Dry Gin (at one time, almost all gin came from the London area) no longer means anything, since even American gin distillers put it on their label.  Also, the term “dry” and its many variations on gin labels are rather meaningless, too, as almost all English and American gins are equally dry.

WHICH GIN SHOULD I BUY?

Like any other liquor, it really depends on what you’re willing to spend and what you intend to use it for.  Although gin is reasonably priced (even for the premium brands), some people just can’t drop $25-30 on a fifth of anything.  There are alternatives, of course, but treat yourself to the best you can afford, especially if you are going to be drinking it straight or in a martini.  If you’re going to partake in some refreshing gin and tonics on a warm summer evening, you don’t have to go all the way, as the tonic water tends to have its way with whatever gin you use.  So, I’ve broken down the gins into my usual four categories:  Ultimate, Top Shelf, Middle Class, and Budget Models.  The prices listed are the range you will find a 750mL bottle for in my home state of Oregon.  Prices will vary around the world, of course.