A spirit which derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries. Gin is one of the broadest categories of spirits, all of various origins, styles, and flavour profiles that revolve around juniper as a common ingredient.
With its earliest origins in the Middle Ages, Gin emerged in England in varying forms as of the early 17th century, the drink has evolved from a Dutch spirit and herbal medicine “Jenever”.
Gin production falls into two main forms – compound and distilled.
Made by adding flavourings, either actual botanicals or natural extracts, to neutral spirit. Many cheaper gins are made using this method, but there are also a range of excellent gins within the category, produced by macerating whole botanicals to produce high-quality spirit.
Made by re-distilling spirit that has had all the botanical materials added.
London Dry Gin
A stricter version of distilled gin, it must contain no artificial ingredients, contain only a minute amount of sweetener and cannot have any flavour, colour or anything other than water added after distillation.
Old Tom Gin – A blast from the past.
Popular in the 18th-century during the ‘Gin Craze’ and as London’s gin scene was driven underground. It has experienced a resurgence in the “Craft Cocktail” movement. It is slightly sweeter and lighter than London Dry, but slightly drier than the Dutch Jenever.
While a spirit must have a predominant flavour of juniper in order to be called gin, the rest of the ingredients are left up to the producer.
Part of gin’s popularity is its versatility; while one of the most common ways to drink gin is in a G&T, it’s also the base of a huge number of cocktails, including the iconic Martini. While many of the new wave of gins are great to drink neat, or over ice, it’s the classic serves and cocktails that most focus on.
G&T – A very versatile serve.
At it’s most basic simply add gin and ice to a glass, top with tonic to your taste and garnish with lime. The real fun, however, is in experimentation and discovery, there are many thousands of combinations of gin, tonic and garnish available to try.
I recommend tasting a small amount of your gin neat on the rocks to get a feel for it’s character, then try it with your tonic and garnish of choice (not too much tonic, we’re tasting gin here!) to see how they affect the flavours. Over time you’ll start to get a feel for what tonic and garnish will work best for your taste with any given gin.
Slices or peels of citrus fruits, juniper berries and cucumber are just the beginning when it comes to garnishes. Try a sprig of fresh herbs (coriander, lemon-grass, rosemary, basil, etc.), apple, pear (slice or peel), raspberries, pink peppercorns…
The world is your gin soaked mollusc of choice!
Martini – The classic cocktail.
6 parts gin
1 part dry vermouth
oil squeezed from lemon peel or an olive to finish.
Mix spirits with ice and stir
strain into chilled cocktail glass
add garnish and serve.
Make it dirty! By adding a dash (½ to 1 part olive brine)