I’ll stick with gin, champagne is just ginger ale that knows somebody!

Hawkeye from M*A*S*H

I brought home a bottle of Cedars Classic, which is a distilled non-alcoholic drink based on junipers,and introduced it to my sceptical wife as a gin substitute but it didn't go down well. It’s not that it isn't lovely to drink or that it’s short on flavour, because it’s both of those things in abundance, but let’s face it, it’s a bit like decaffeinated coffee, which in turn is a bit like kissing your sister; same action but just no result... well hopefully!

I guess the lesson from that experience is that junipers, lemons and a whole host of other botanicals distilled together may give a similar result to gin, but without the pre-med effect of the alcohol, it just ain’t cricket, folks. Cedars is, however, a crackingly refreshing drink and if you mix it up with a slice of lemon and a nice tonic, it will make a very nice drink for the designated driver or to accompany a lunchtime salad in the summer - but isn't going to add to the evening.

Lets face it, we drink to relax and a vital part of that is the alcohol, whichever way you look at it. It's the same with decaf coffee and vegetarian burgers, there's just no point. Seriously, would you take a beef joint and carve it into the shape of a cabbage?

Anyhow, 2018 was another bumper year for gin and hoorah, because the much talked about bubble didn’t burst. I'm personally not keen on all the gin liqueurs on the market but even I have to admit that one or two, such as the wonderfully neurotic Tipsy Tart, and Unicorn Tears, are hitting the high notes, but I'm a self confessed gin snob at the end of the day. What's up with buying a really good straight gin and getting a mixed bag of fruits from your local greengrocer? There's so much fun to be had that way and you can mix it up glass by glass.

Anyhow, I wanted to share a few of my personal favourites from 2018 with you and as I couldn't decide on a particular order, here's a random selection of the gins that made me stop and think ‘take a bow my old son’. A standout gin was called Hadrian's Wall and uses botanicals supposedly utilised by the Roman soldiers. It comes in a stone crock bottle that looks like it was chipped out of the wall itself and while the first aroma was a bit herbal and off-putting, the gin itself was simply stunning. For purity of flavour, the cask strength gin by Ancient Mariner was an eye opener but for sheer refreshing enjoyment as well as presentation, the two gins from the House of Elrick take the biscuit. Their Old Tom style in particular is perhaps the fruitiest unflavoured gin I've ever tasted. There was another stand out gin for me and although it’s a delicious crisp style, it’s the cheeky name that won my heart and only the Irish could do it. It’s called Feckin Gin and after you’ve had one or two, you should turn the bottle around and read the front label from the reverse! Junipers, fun and alcohol, three of my favourite friends all in one glass.

Anyway ladies and gents, it's time for me to slice a few lemons so here's a recommendation or two for the weekend. Pip pip for now.

Gilpin’s Gin

A proper dry London Gin made in London. The focus here is on the juniper with very few other botanicals in the mix. It’s the quintessential gin for a G&T and a must for any larder.

The Whisky Exchange £36.75

The Lakes Explorer Gin

A lovely zesty style of gin using several botanical's native to the Lake District. Herbal and lemon overtones with a clean refreshing finish and a gorgeously whopping 47 per cent alcohol.

Lakes Distillery online £39.95