Gin is one of the broadest categories of spirits, represented by products of various origins, styles, and flavor profiles that all revolve around Juniper as a common ingredient. In the Middle Ages, Gin was used as an herbal medicine. Gin was developed on the basis of the older Genever, and became popular in Great Britain when William of Orange, leader of the Dutch Republic, occupied England, Scotland, and Ireland.
As an early medicine of choice, Gin was used to cure kidney ailments, stomach issues, gallstones, and gout. Gin quickly became a popular spirit in the UK when poor-quality grain that was unfit for brewing beer needed a new home. In 1751, The Gin Act was passed that brought control to the production, quality, and distribution.
There are many different types of Gin in the market today, but did you know that it is legally differentiated into four categories in the European Union, which are described as follows.
This includes the earliest class of Gin, which is produced by pot distilling a fermented grain mash to moderate strength and then redistilling it with botanicals to extract the aromatic compounds.
This is a Juniper-flavored spirit made not via the re-distillation of botanicals, but by simply adding approved natural flavoring substances to a neutral spirit. The predominant flavor must be Juniper in order for it to be called Gin.
Distilled Gin is produced exclusively by redistilling ethanol with an initial strength of 96% ABV in stills traditionally used for Gin, in the presence of Juniper berries and of other natural botanicals.
Sloe gin is traditionally described as a liqueur made by infusing sloes (the fruit of the blackthorn) in Gin.
The 19th century gave rise to Old Tom Gin, which is a softer and sweeter; often containing sugar. Old Tom Gin faded in popularity by the early 20th century but is making a strong comeback with the new Cocktail Renaissance of today!
London Gin is made exclusively through the re-distillation in traditional stills of ethanol in the presence of all the natural plant materials used, the resultant distillate of which is at least 70% ABV. London Gin may not contain sugar, colorants, or any added ingredients other than water in the final product. London Gin is also known as Dry Gin because of this stringency.
Now that you know the basics behind Gin go out and buy a few bottles to understand the difference in taste profile then mix up a cocktail or two or three and see how balanced this spirit can become.
Some greats brands of Gin are Ventura Spirits, Nolets, St. George Spirits, Monkey 47, and Plymouth.