New to gin? Read our expert guide find out everything you need to know to become a true gin connoisseur.
What is Gin?
Gin is a juniper-flavoured spirit with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of at least 37.5% in the EU and 40% in the US. It can be made from a diverse range of bases with some of the most common being corn, wheat, rye, and potato. Gin is usually infused with botanicals (such as seeds, berries, roots, fruits and herbs) to give it a unique taste. Gins typically boast between six and twelve botanicals; however, some brands can have as many as 30. Some examples of commonly used botanicals include coriander seeds, lemon, orange, cinnamon, almond, cardamom, ginger, liquorice, and nutmeg.
How is Gin Made?
Today, gin is mostly produced using three methods:
- Pot distillation: This involves distilling fermented malt wine and then distilling it a second time with botanicals. This is the oldest method of producing distilled gin and is still used today.
- Column distillation: This method starts off by producing a very concentrated spirit. This is then redistilled by placing juniper berries and botanicals in a pot still. This is the most modern method and is well suited to large-scale production.
- Compound distillation (non-distilled): The simplest method of producing gin, column distillation involves flavouring the gin with natural flavours without redistilling it. This is also sometimes known as ‘Bathtub’ Gin, as this method was used by many Americans during the Prohibition era.
The Four Main Types of Gin
With the current global gin boom, there are hundreds and thousands of completely unique gin brands. However, gin can be broken down into four overarching categories.
London Dry is by far the most popular style of gin in the world. While it originated in London, it is now made all over the world. Gins of this type typically have a pungent juniper taste and a “dry” (i.e. not sweet) flavour because there is little to no added sugar. Some well-known examples of London Dry gins include Hendrick’s, Tanqueray, and Bombay Sapphire.
Plymouth gin is sweeter than the London Dry style and has an earthy taste as a result of its high proportion of root ingredients. Due to a Protected Geographical Indication, this style of gin had to be made in Plymouth, England up until 2015. There is currently only one brand of Plymouth gin.
Old Tom gin has a sweet taste comes from the addition of malts or sugar in the re-distillation process. Originating from the mid-18th century, this gin fell out of fashion in the 1940s but is now making a comeback as retro-minded mixologists seek to recreate the cocktail recipes of old.
Genever dates back to the 16th-century Netherlands and is the forefather of London Dry. This gin is made from malt grains (such as barley, wheat, spelt and rye) instead of a cereal grains mix. As such, this style of Dutch gin has a darker colour and flavour that is actually quite similar to some whiskeys. Whereas most gin styles are quite quick to produce, Genever lends itself to barrel-ageing. European law stipulates that this style of gin can only be made in the Netherlands or Belgium.
Gin: The Cocktailer's Best Friend
Ever since cocktails emerged in the 1860s, gin has remained a drinks cabinet essential. A key ingredient in many classic recipes, this spirit is favoured for its flexibility and clear flavour which mixes well with other ingredients. In fact, the resurgence of the cocktail over the past decade has played a major part in bringing gin back into fashion. What’s more, recent legislative changes have brought about the opening of many new small craft distilleries across the world so today’s cocktailers can choose from a diverse array of craft gins.
Learn More About Gin
If you would like to learn more about gin, then you should browse through this interesting infographic which comes courtesy of the team at Lakeshore Convention Centre. This handy guide offers a detailed beginner’s guide to the juniper-flavoured spirit. It covers everything you need to know about the different styles of gin. It also provides recipes for five classic gin cocktails including Gin Martinis, Gimlets, Negronis, Tom Collins and Aviations.
Scroll down to the infographic below to find out more.