Just as my choice of wine shifts in autumn (from lighter, crisper ones to richer, more full-bodied styles), so does my choice of gin. Floral-scented, citrus-led spirits no longer top my list.
Instead, I want something with peppery or smoky notes to warm up cold evenings, one in which spicy, earthy botanicals mingle with the pine forest of juniper.
If you agree, but like a restrained and subtle take, I recommend M&S’s well-priced, lightly peppery Dry Gin No 1 Spice (41.6%, £10 for 20cl or £20 for 70cl), which lists rosemary and ginger among its botanicals.
Those venturing further down the spice route should seek out the excellent Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin (details below), which, although cleverly well-balanced, packs a powerful spicy punch.
Wood-smoke conjures up autumn, and I adore Beaufort’s smoky gin (also below) and will make very sure there’s enough left for Bonfire Night.
And there’s ripe orchard fruit all around us; those who love sweeter fruit-flavoured gins have got their sloe and damson versions, of course, but for something different, more orchard-like, try Whitley Neil Quince Gin (43%, thedropstore.com, £24 for 70cl), which is ripe, luscious and particularly lovely sipped alongside full-flavoured cheddar.
My favourite fruit gin (of sorts) is the unconventional one below made from gin and shiraz grapes in Victoria, Australia. Given its name and deep-red colour, it should suit Hallowe’en well. It makes a distinctively different negroni, too.
Talking of cocktails, join me on Oct 17 to shake up a few as part of The Telegraph’s virtual Food & Drink Festival (go to telegraph.co.uk/foodfest for details). See you there!
Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin
Yarra Valley, Australia (37.8%, Waitrose, £35 for 70cl, down to £29 from Oct 14-Nov 3)
For this, shiraz grapes are steeped in gin for eight weeks then pressed for their juice, which is blended back in. It’s ruby-red with a sweet note of cherry, plenty of juniper and a peppery twist.
Jaisalmer Indian Craft Gin
Rampur, India (43%, thewhiskyexchange.com, £34.95 for 70cl)
Superb Indian gin made with cubeb peppers and grains of paradise among more conventional botanicals. It’s dry and intensely peppery but lemon and orange peels add a freshness to balance this. Makes a fine G&T for colder nights.
Beaufort Fifty-Seven Smoked Sipping Gin
A Navy strength gin infused with smoked oak and hickory, judiciously handled to make a wonderful smoky gin, super-smooth in texture and lingering, not too hot. Rightly awarded Gold Outstanding at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.