Ginebra San Miguel - Best-Selling Gin from the Philippines

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 20, 2023

Ginebra San Miguel is a Philippine-produced Gin that is a rarity in Western countries. However, believe it or not, this relatively unknown brand is, by far, the world's best-selling Gin
Ginebra San Miguel - Gin bottle and botanicals

According to Ginebra San Miguel, their product is a Dutch-type Gin (Genever) with an alcohol content of 40%. It's based on a neutral sugar cane spirit and predominantly flavored with juniper.

The name San Miguel might ring a bell to you - but associated with beer rather than Gin. In fact, the company behind both products is the same and is not, as many believe, Spanish but from the Philippines. And, if believe it or not, their San Miguel Gin is outselling all other Gin brands - from Gordon's to Tanqueray to Beefeater.

The main reason for that is the per capita consumption of Gin in the Philippines. It is higher than in any other country in the world. That again is strongly related to San Miguel Gin. Not because the quality and taste are outstanding but because a bottle of this Gin sells for about $2.

During our visit to the Philippines, we had the chance to try their famous Gin. - We don't recommend drinking it neat, yet, San Miguel was refreshingly different. 

Learn more about Ginebra San Miguel, how it tastes, and how you should drink it.

Quick Facts

  • Produced by: San Miguel Corporation
  • Distilled at: Mandaue City, Cebu (Philippines)
  • Style: Gin
  • ABV: 40%
  • Spirit base: Neutral cane spirit
  • Taste: Juniper, spice, and heat
  • Best served: Gin and Tonic


Only little is known about the botanicals that go into San Miguel Gin. The brand only states that its product is flavored with juniper berries and a mix of other ingredients. At least, after talking to people connected to the brand, we can say it must include molasses, citrus fruit peels, juice extracts, and herbs on top of European-harvested juniper berries.

Where San Miguel Gin is produced

The most distinct feature of San Miguel Gin is its base spirit made from sugarcane, which adds a natural sweetness. Typically, sugarcane is used to produce Rum or Rhum, though. So this is pretty extraordinary.

Also, the Gin is produced at six different distilleries - five located in the Philippines and one in Thailand.

  • Mandaue City, Cebu 
  • Santa Barbara, Pangasinan
  • Cabuyao, Laguna
  • Cauayan, Isabella
  • Ligao, Albay
  • Kanchanaburi (Thailand)


Tasting San Miguel, you're greeted with strong juniper notes and quite a harsh alcoholic bite. In the background, you get the sweetness of sugarcane paired with spicy notes of pepper and coriander.

It's hard to describe, but it's like a sweet version of a Gin with a rather classic (London Dry) flavor profile. The harsh alcoholic notes, though, don't make it pleasant when drinking it neat. Hence, I recommend consuming it with tonic water or in Gin cocktail recipes that can cover these harsh notes.

Different expressions

Ginebra San Miguel Gin bottle

Ginebra San Miguel

The classic expression is the most popular of the three bottles Ginebra San Miguel has on offer. The 80-proof spirit is a favored mixing spirit in many Asian countries, especially in the Philippines.

GSM Blue Light Gin bottle

GSM Blue

This lighter version is only 65-proof and is therefore not officially allowed to be called a Gin. The botanical selection and flavors are similar to the original, but the lower amount of alcohol makes it easier to drink.

GSM Blue lately also comes in various flavors like Mojito,

Ginebra San Miguel Premium bottle

Ginebra San Miguel Premium Gin

This upscale version is lighter (only 70-proof; 35% ABV) and has more citrus notes. In fact, the citrus flavors overshadow the juniper notes and are the dominant taste of the Gin. It's less harsh, thus, a lot easier to drink neat compared to the original San Miguel Gin.

How much is Ginebra San Miguel?

The prices in the Philippines are super low. A bottle of the original San Miguel Gin sells for about $2, and the Premium version is sold at around $4. In Western countries, the spirit is a lot harder to get. If you're lucky to spot it in the US, it typically sells between $13 and $15.


The Gin brand Ginebra San Miguel was founded in 1834. Back then, the spirit used to get produced at the Ayala Distillery in Quiapo, Manila which also makes other alcoholic beverages like Anisette, Brandy, Rum, Whiskey, and Gin. 

In 1924, the brand was acquired by La Tondeña - later renamed La Tondeña Distillers, Inc. (in 1987). Since 2003, the company has been operating under its current name Ginebra San Miguel, Inc.

In 2012, the Gin, alongside four other Ginebra products, received a gold medal at the World Quality Selections, organized by Monde Selection.

Here's an interesting side fact: the Gin brand is probably the only one to be tied to a basketball team with the same name. The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel is part of the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association).

How to drink San Miguel Gin

I strongly advise against drinking this Gin neat. It's not intended for this. In cocktails, it can work quite well, though. Its juniper-forward taste works nicely in a G&T, a Dry Martini, and a Gibson cocktail.

If you're more into fruity, sweet, or sour drinks, you can also try it in one of the following recipes:

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