| Gin Overview
its Lowlands cousin Genever (Jenever in Belgium) are versatile white spirits made from a grain mash of
barley, corn or rye and is a light bodied spirit. Its unique flavor comes from
a combination of juniper berries, herbs and spices, coriander, angelica and a
number of other ingredients like anise, cinnamon, orange
peel, and cassia bark. The chief flavoring agent in both Gin and Genever is the
highly aromatic blue-green berry of the juniper, a low-slung evergreen bush
(genus Juniperus) that is commercially grown in northern Italy, Croatia, the
United States and Canada. All Gin and Genever makers have their own secret
combination of botanicals, the number of which can range from as few as four to
as many as 15. Gin serves as the main
ingredient in many classic cocktails, including the "gin and tonic"
and the classic "dry martini."
Types of Gin
London Dry Gin: This gin is the most
dominant English style of gin, which
lends itself well to mixing and is the most popular gin in the U.K., the U.S.
and Spain. British gins tend to be high proof (90° or 45% ABV) and
citrus-accented from the use of dried lemon and Seville orange peels in the mix
of botanicals. Popular brands of London dry gin include: Beefeater,
Bombay Sapphire, Gordons, Seagrams, and Tanqueray. Most dry gin is efficiently
distilled in column stills, contributing to the light, clean texture of this
alcohol. American made London Dry Gins (often termed
"soft" gins) tend to be lower proof (80° or 40% ABV) and less
flavorful than their English counterparts ("hard" gins). This rule
applies even to brands such as Gordon’s and Gilbey’s, which originated in
England. America’s best-selling Gin, Seagram’s Extra Dry, is a rare cask-aged
Dry Gin. Three months of aging in charred oak barrels gives the Gin a pale
straw color and a smooth palate.
Jenever Gin: This Dutch version of gin is made
from a grain mash made of barley, rye and corn. Jenever Gin is distilled in pot
stills, which follow a slower process than column stills and create a
lower-proof gin with more flavor and is generally fuller in body. Most genevers are made in Holland in the
Netherlands and Belgium. There are two styles of Jenever gin: Oude
("old"), which has a golden tint and a sweet, aromatic flavor; and
Jonge ("young"), which is drier and has a lighter body. Some genevers are
aged for one to three years in oak casks. Genevers tend to be lower proof than
English gins (72-80 proof or 36-40% ABV is typical). They are usually served
straight up and chilled. Some Genever producers now market fruit-flavored
genevers, the best known being black currant.Germany produces a Genever-style
Gin called Dornkaat in the North Sea coast region of Frisia. This spirit is
lighter in body and more delicate in flavor than both Belgian Genever and
English Dry Gin. German Gin is usually served straight up and cold.
Old Tom Gin: Old Tom Gin is the last remaining example of
the original lightly sweetened gins that were so popular in 18th-century
England. The name comes
from a fixture common in 18th century English pubs — a black wooden cat.
Customers would put a penny into the cat's open mouth and receive a shot of gin
from a small tube between the cat’s paws. Until fairly recently limited quantities of
Old Tom-style Gin were still being made by a few British distillers, but they
were, at best, curiosity items.
Plymouth Gin: Plymouth Gin is relatively full-bodied (when
compared to London Dry Gin). This dry, full-bodied, clear, aromatic and somewhat
fruity gin was originally created as a local gin in Plymouth, England. Modern
Plymouth gin is only made by one company, Coates & Co. distillery in Plymouth.
In addition to being the only distiller of this type of gin, Coates & Co.
also owns the rights to the name "Plymouth Gin."
Sloe Gin: While not technically a type of gin,
sloe gin is a red, gin-based liqueur flavored with sweet blackthorn plums.
Because of its sweet flavor, people of all ages tend to enjoy sloe gin.
Low-quality "compound" gins are
made by simply mixing the base spirit with juniper and botanical extracts.
Gins created for mass consumption are produced by soaking juniper berries and
botanicals in the base spirit and then redistilling the mixture.
High-quality gins go through an additional distilling process where the
oils from the berries are extracted and condensed, resulting in a more complex
gins and genevers are flavored in a unique manner. After one or more
distillations the base spirit is redistilled one last time. During this final
distillation the alcohol vapor wafts through a chamber in which the dried
juniper berries and botanicals are suspended. The vapor gently extracts
aromatic and flavoring oils and compounds from the berries and spices as it
travels through the chamber on its way to the condenser. The resulting flavored
spirit has a noticeable degree of complexity.
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