What is Gin?
Gin is a spirit made by distilling a fermented grain mash or a mix of fermented grains with juniper berries. Gin has a distinctive herbal flavor and color that comes from the addition of the juniper berries, as well as other botanicals. Gin is one of the most versatile spirits in the world, as it can be enjoyed neat, in a cocktail, or even used in cooking or baking.
History of Gin
Gin originated in Holland in the early 17th century and is believed to have been warmed and spiced in stills made from wine that had become too cold to drink. Revolutionary though this process may seem, it did not remain distinctive for long. Soon, adding juniper berries to the mixture was favored due to their antiseptic qualities and their ability to cover up unpleasant flavors in the wine. The drink became known as Jenever, and quickly became popular as a cure for ailments such as stomachaches and fevers. The English brought Jenever across the North Sea to England sometime in the late 17th century and, to make it more palatable to the English palate, sweetened it, changed the recipe and renamed it, ‘Gin.’
The Different Types of Gin
There are a few different types of gin today, including London Dry, Distilled, Old Tom, Genever, White, and Navy Style. Here is a brief explanation of each type:
London Dry – This type of gin is distilled using the same traditional technique, however, the juniper does not overpower the other botanicals like it does in Genever. Consequently it has a clear, crisp flavor with a light citrus finish, and is a popular choice for mixed drinks.
Distilled – This type is similar to London Dry but includes other botanicals, such as coriander, angelica, orris root, and cassia bark. Distilled gin is lightly flavored but offers complexity compared to London Dry.
Old Tom – This type of gin was invented in the mid-1800s. Old Tom gin is made with more sweetness compared to other styles, such as London Dry, making it a great choice for cocktails such as the Old Tom Collins.
Genever – This is the oldest style of gin, and originated in Holland. Genever is made with a malted grain base and has a unique flavor due to its high juniper content.
White – White gin also originated in Holland and is a light and citrusy gin that can be enjoyed on its own or used in a cocktail.
Navy Style – This is a strong and full-bodied gin that was created for the Royal British Navy. Navy Style gin is typically higher in alcohol content and has a more intense flavor from the inclusion of a high amount of juniper berries.
How to Drink Gin
Gin can be enjoyed in myriad ways, depending on your preferences and the type of gin that you are drinking. It can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in a classic gin-based cocktail such as a Martini, Gimlet, or Negroni.
Gin can also be used in food recipes such as risottos or desserts to add a floral, herbal flavor. For example, a traditional Italian risotto with cream and Parmesan can be enhanced with a few drops of gin, or you may choose to bake a decadent cake with a hint of juniper berry flavor. Depending on the intensity of the gin, users should use caution when cooking with gin, as it can become overpowering quickly.
Gin is a spirit that can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in a classic cocktail. There are numerous types of gin, such as London Dry, Distilled, Old Tom, Genever, White and Navy Style, that each offer a distinct flavor experience. Depending on the gin that is consumed and its intensity, gin can also be used in cooking or baking to add a unique flavor to dishes. No matter what the occasion, there is sure to be a type of gin and style of drinking that will suit you.
Gin is a liquor that has been beloved since its invention in the early 1600s. It has been known by many names, such as Holland’s red stryand, Geneva, Jakobi, and Mother’s Ruin. Today, gin is considered a contemporary spirit, due to its increasing popularity and wide range of available flavors. With notes of juniper and citrus, it is a favorite among connoisseurs and novices alike. But how exactly does one go from a large, leatherbound book of botanical recipes to a small snifter of clear liquid? The journey of gin from source to table, while certainly fascinating, is often overlooked or appears too technical to be discussed in casual conversation. In this blog post, we’ll explore the journey of gin — from field to your dinner plate — so you can better understand and appreciate the drink you love.
To begin, let’s discuss where gin comes from. Gin is most commonly distilled from grain alcohol, or neutral grain spirits (NGS). Neutral grain spirits are a type of ethanol produced through a distillation process of grains (like corn and wheat) that have been fermented. Fermentation is the process of converting sugar into alcohol and is conducted on an industrial scale by large-scale ethanol producers. During fermentation, enzymes break down the sugar molecules into ethanol and CO2. The ethanol is then alcohol is further distilled to concentrate its ethanol percentage. The result is a purified, colorless alcohol with a mild flavor and odor.
Once the NGS is made, it can be used to make different types of alcoholic beverages, ranging from flavored malt beverages to vodka and gin. Gin is most typically produced through a process known as batch distillation. This process involves separating liquid spirits into two batches. The first batch (called “low wines”) is heated to the boiling point and vaporized. The vaporized ethanol is then collected and pressed back into a liquid form. This liquid is then sent to the second batch, or “high wines,” to extract further flavor and aroma. After further distillation, the product is a colorless alcohol with a neutral flavor.
Now that we understand the underlying distilling process let’s explore the key elements in gin production: the juniper berry, botanicals, and aging. The juniper berry is one of the primary components to a quality gin and is what gives gin its distinct, pine-flavored taste. Juniper berries are wild, flowering bushes found in Northern Europe, Asia and North America. These berries are harvested and shipped to the distillery where they undergo a rigorous inspection process. After the juniper berries pass inspection, they are milled and macerated to extract the essential oils, which are then blended with other botanicals such as coriander, angelica root, bitter orange peel, and licorice root.
Once the juniper berries and other botanicals have been blended together, the mixture is combined with the neutral grain spirit base. The mixture is then heated and distilled in copper stills. The stills help to separate out the heavier molecules and the desired liquid is captured and stored in a stillage. This liquid is the gin, and it can stay in the stillage for up to a few weeks to allow the flavors to further infuse and develop.
Gin can also be aged in wooden barrels, typically made of American white oak. Aging gives the gin a mellower flavor and helps smooth out the harsher notes of certain botanicals. The aging process must adhere to strict regulations and can take up to several years. After aging, the gin is filtered to remove any added preservatives, flavorings, and colorants. This creates a clear, clean-tasting alcohol that is the refreshing base for all of your favorite summer drinks.
Once it reaches your dinner plate, gin is typically served neat or on the rocks. When poured over ice, the gin releases its fragrant botanical aromas, which can vary depending on the type of gin being served. Gin can also be served with tonic water for a classic cocktail known as a G&T. For those looking for something a little more creative, try adding a splash of soda water, sweet vermouth and a few olives to the mix for a gin martini. However you mix it, the unique flavor and aroma of gin will enhance any dinner.
In summary, gin is a complex and nuanced beverage that has been around for centuries. Its journey from a field of juniper to a dinner plate takes takes time, dedication and the excellence of the craftspeople involved. From the NGS producers, to the stillmasters and bottlers, the world of gin is a global one filled with passionate people. The next time you raise a glass of gin, take a moment to appreciate the countless steps that went into getting it to your glass.
Daily Value 2.3 g
|Total Sugars||0 ug||