Gin, a spirit as versatile as it is delightful, has captured the hearts and tastebuds of people around the globe. This beguiling beverage, with its unique flavour profiles and exciting distillation techniques, never ceases to amaze. Join us on this gin-tastic journey as we delve into the wonderful world of gin!
What is gin?
Gin is a clear, distilled spirit that derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries. Originating from Europe, this drink has evolved over the centuries into an elegant and complex drink. Today, it’s the foundation of many classic cocktails such as the martini, gimlet, and of course, the gin and tonic.
What is gin made of?
Gin’s unique flavour comes from a medley of botanicals, with juniper berries being the most prominent. However, it’s the mix of additional botanicals that truly makes each gin stand out. Producers often use a variety of herbs, spices, fruits, and roots, to create their signature gin flavours.
Common botanicals include coriander seeds, angelica root, orris root, and citrus peels.
How is gin made?
The production of gin begins with a neutral base spirit which is typically made of grains. The base spirit is then redistilled with the chosen botanicals to infuse the gin with its distinct flavours. There are two primary methods for infusing gin with botanicals: maceration and vapour infusion.
Maceration is the process of steeping the botanicals directly in the base spirit. The mixture is then redistilled to capture the essence of the botanicals. Vapour infusion, on the other hand, involves placing the botanicals in a basket above the base spirit. As the spirit’s vapours rise during distillation, they pass through the botanicals and absorb their flavours.
Gin distillation techniques
Gin distilleries often employ unique techniques to create their signature drinks. Some distilleries use traditional copper pot stills, while others utilize more modern column stills. Craft distillers are known for their innovation, experimenting with barrel-aging, cold compounding, and even using unconventional botanicals to create distinctive gins.
What are the different types of gin?
There are also a variety of gin styles, each with their own characteristics.
London Dry Gin
Arguably the most well known and popular type of gin, London Dry Gin is characterised by its strong juniper flavour, with additional botanicals like coriander and angelica root. Despite its name, it doesn’t have to be produced in London. The term “dry” refers to the absence of added sugars or artificial flavours. It’s a versatile choice for many classic cocktails.
Originating from the city of Plymouth in England, this gin has a Protected Geographical Indication, meaning it can only be produced in Plymouth. It’s slightly sweeter and more citrus-forward compared to London Dry Gin. Plymouth Gin has a softer juniper profile and an earthier taste, making it a great choice for a range of cocktails or sipping neat.
Old Tom Gin
Old Tom Gin is considered the missing link between the sweeter Dutch Genver and the drier London Dry Gin. It has a sweeter profile and rich botanical complexity. Old Tom Gin is often aged in large barrels, which adds depth and character to its flavour. It’s perfect for cocktails that call for a sweeter gin, like the Tom Collins or Martinez.
The Dutch predecessor of modern gin, Genever, is a maltier, sweeter spirit. Made from a malted grain base, it has a fuller body and more complex flavour profile compared to other gins. Genever is typically enjoyed neat or in traditional Dutch cocktails. There are two main styles: Jonge (young) Genever, which is lighter and more neutral, and Oude (old) Genever with a stronger malt flavour and more botanicals.