Gin – a Tale of Flavors

Gin is made from highly rectified neutral spirit that has been flavored with range of botanicals of which the most important is Juniper. With few exceptions Gin do not see any ageing before bottling and are reduced to bottling strength (approximately 40% ABV or 80% proof) by adding demineralized water. Gin gets its name from the Dutch word for juniper, which is Jenever.

History

Gin likely traces its origins to liquors produced back in the Middle Ages, with references to a spirit flavored with “jenever” referenced in a 13th Century Flemish manuscript. In the 14th century juniper, the berry that gives gin its distinctive aroma was used as cure for stomach problem and was thought to be effective against the Black Death. By the 1600s, the Dutch were producing gin in earnest, with hundreds of distilleries in the city of Amsterdam alone.

Distillery in UK

Gin originated as a medicinal liquor made by monks and alchemists across Europe, particularly in Southern France, Flanders and the Netherlands, to provide aqua vita from distillates of grapes and grains. It then became an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Gin emerged in England after the introduction of the jenever, a Dutch and Belgian liquor that was originally a medicine. Although this development had been taking place since early 17th century, gin became widespread after the William of Orange-led 1688 Glorious Revolution and subsequent import restrictions on French brandy.

The scale of production and consumption rapidly spiraled out of control and the government struggled to bring matters under control. The preferred style for gin of the time, “Old Tom”, was at its best a juniper-heavy, sweetened, pot still corn Spirit.

By 1803 the Gin production was dominated by nine distilleries namely Booth, Burnett and Gordon’s, the style was “New Dry” unsweetened style. Which was first created in Plymouth. Gins with more complex botanical recipes, resulted in gin respectable and London Dry Gin began to be seen as England’s national spirit.

In recent years new generation of gins has appeared including Tanqueray Number 10, Hendrick’s, Martin Miller’s and Blackwood’s Vintage – all of which have broadened the category’s flavor spectrum. With bartenders actively looking for more flavorsome base spirits for their cocktails, Gin is on the top of list.

Ingredients of Gin

Gin is defined by European Union as It must be produced by flavoring a neutral spirit made from agricultural base with the minimum strength of 96% ABV with natural or natural identical flavoring substances with the predominant flavor of Juniper.

Gin today is produced in different ways from a wide range of herbal ingredients, giving rise to a number of distinct styles and brands. After juniper, gin tends to be flavored with botanical/herbal, spice, floral or fruit-flavors or often a combination. It is most commonly consumed mixed with tonic water.

Gin is also often used as a base spirit to produce flavored gin-based liqueurs such as, for example, sloe gin, traditionally by the addition of fruit, flavorings and sugar.

Techniques to Produce of Gin

Gin Produced by redistilling the neutral spirits in pot stills traditionally used for gin in the presence of Juniper and other natural botanicals. Additional flavors can be introduced post redistillation. The spirit is diluted with water to a strength of about 60% ABV. It is heated in the presence of the botanicals and the flavor-rich vapors that are condensed are collected at a strength of 79-80% ABV.

To have variation in flavor profile some distillers such as Gordon’s and Tanqueray put the botanical into water/alcohol mix and start the distillation immediately. Others such as Beefeater macerate it for 24 hours. Other option is the Carterhead still where botanicals separated in basket and the vapor pass through that the gin produce a lighter style of gin.

Gin Concentrate – Most Large gin brands are made using gin concentrates. These are made in much the same way as distilled gin. Gin concentrate diluted to great deal when being prepared for bottling. A bottle of gin made in this way includes only 4-5% of gin concentrate. Both water and highly rectified alcohol have to be used to dilute the concentrate.

Gins with Added Flavors – Natural-identical and natural flavoring can be used by gin producers. Some less-expensive gins are made by just adding flavoring to highly rectified spirits. These flavors used for either add flavor or to enhance certain flavor in distilled gins.

Styles of Gin

Gin – Can only be made using 96% abv highly rectified spirit. Natural or natural-identical flavoring may be used. Gin must taste predominantly of juniper and have a minimum of 37.5% abv

Distilled Gin – Must be made by redistilling a 96% highly rectified spirit with juniper berries and other natural botanicals. Natural or Natural identical flavoring may then be added to this distillate and it is prepared for bottling with addition of either/or highly rectified spirt and water. It must taste predominantly of juniper and have minimum of 37.5% abv

London Gin/ London Dry Gin – Style of distilled Gin that has stricter production regulation. This is identical to distilled gin except that no other flavoring or sweeteners can be added to the distillate. There is no geographic delimitation for London Dry Gin, can be produced in anywhere in world.

Old Tom – Juniper-heavy, sweetened, pot still corn Spirit, Old Tom was originally a sweetened style of gin that was produced and it came around the middle of the 18th century, and Old Tom was the street name for the gin.” Currently only one producer of this in UK, Haymans and it is sold as a distilled gin. It’s richer in flavor than London Dry.

Plymouth – Plymouth gin is protected geographical indication that limit the production to Plymouth. Technically a style of gin, but only one distillery produces it and it’s one of the oldest recorded distilleries in the U.K. it’s drier than London Dry and more citrus forward, and you might get a spicier finish. Classified as distilled gin.

Genever/Jenever – The original style of gin, dating back to 16th-century. It is a juniper-flavored spirit that is protected by a geological indication limiting its production to Belgium, The Netherlands, North of France. Jenever may be aged in oak barrels. Jenever has more robust flavor and richer.

International Style – This is style of gin that emerging rapidly around the globe, this is the expression of local ingredients and innovations. These gins rarely follow the traditional rules and methods.

Popularity of Gin

Gin is amongst the popular choice of consumers around the world. In term of production UK, United Stated and Germany are leading. In 2019, just under ten million 9-liter cases of gin were sold in the United States. In UK gin sales reached a new record in 2019: with Brits buying 83 million bottles worth over £2.6bn ($3.3bn USD). The domination of Gin is witnessed in UK since 2013 as reported in www.beveragedaily.com. Over the last number of years gin has exploded in popularity, evoking a kind of patriotism and return to old British values, while also speaking of flavorful botanicals, and of place and provenance. As more bespoke gin bars open up and customers look for more experiences from the gin category, it doesn’t look like the popularity of this spirit is going anywhere! So here are a few current gin trends to know and some tips on how to use them in your bar. 

  • Creating innovative cocktails Beyond classic Gin & Tonic
  • Experimenting with various choices of mixers.
  • Using creative ideas with garnishes which make the drink more eye appealing
  • Creation of Vegan Cocktails with Gin
  • Boutique/Craft Gins are so popular amongst the enthusiastic gin lovers.
  • Pink Gin which gained attention from Bartenders
  • Non-Alcoholic gin to match the current market trend.
  • Sustainability focused Gins

With all these ongoing trends and very positive predictions from expert shows that the trend of gin may grow further.

Let’s sip a Gin and tonic to quench the thirst. Cheers.

Arunkumar Tamilselvan

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