6 Gin Myths Busted, How Much Do You Really Know About This Trendy Spirit?
In the world of spirits, gin stands as one of the most beloved beverages in the bar cart. Its popularity has soared in recent years, with countless gin brands, cocktails, and distilleries emerging to cater to an ever-expanding fan base. However, amid this gin renaissance, a cloud of misconceptions and myths has also developed, obscuring the true essence of this long-standing spirit.
From the belief that gin is simply flavoured vodka to the notion that it originated solely in England, let’s peel back the layers of deception and get to know the truth behind the rumours. So, whether you're a gin aficionado or a curious novice, get ready to unravel 6 myths you may have heard about gin and what they really mean.
Myth #1: London Dry Gin Has To Be Made In London
Despite the obvious reference to England’s capital city in its name, it’s not necessary that a London Dry Gin has to be made in the city to be called so. The name encompasses a certain style of gin (as opposed to its point of origin) and it’s characterised by a few key factors. They usually have little to no sugar (typically under 0.1 grams per litre), they are made entirely with natural botanicals and no artificial flavours or colours and the production process mandates a distillation strength of 70% ABV, later diluted to at least 37.5% ABV. If a gin meets all these criteria, it can be considered a London Dry Gin.
Myth # 2 Gin Was Invented In England
Further to the whole ‘London Dry’ debate, many people believe that gin is a quintessentially British spirit. While it’s true that it did find a foothold in England that catapulted it into a global phenomenon, Gin is actually a derivative of a 16th-century Dutch spirit called Genever. Named after the Dutch translation of the word ‘juniper’, Genever was a malt spirit made by distilling grain and then distilling it again with juniper berries before blending the two together. The English adapted Genever's style by removing the malt distillate, following the Distilling Act of 1690, and shifting towards grain-based production methods, which eventually led to the creation of what we now know as gin. Thus, gin has Dutch origins, despite its quintessential British presence
Myth #3: Gin And Vodka Are Basically The Same Thing
Although they share a similar distillation process and even a final clear colour, they are two fundamentally different spirits by the end of the production process. Though they are both neutral spirits, Gin has one fundamental addition – Juniper. In fact, juniper is a necessary addition for a spirit to even be considered a gin. Gin also tends to feature less sugar and more natural, botanical flavours, whereas vodka can contain sugar and citric acid to be considered a viable vodka. Taste-wise, vodka tends to be more neutral and often tasteless making it a great base for most cocktails, while gin leans more towards Juniper and botanical heavy flavours that need to be more carefully paired.
Myth #4: Gin And Tonics Will Prevent Malaria
This myth actually has some basis in historical fact. In the 18th century, during the time of the British Raj, British soldiers in India would be given a tonic of quinine to help protect against malaria. But quinine is naturally very bitter and the soldiers soon took to mixing some of their gin rations with the medicine to help it go down a bit smoother. The practice trickled down over the years and the Gin & Tonic is still a popular cocktail today. The big difference is, the ‘Tonic’ water that’s used today is in no way medicinal and on the rare occasion it does contain quinine, it’s usually in negligible amounts. So if you do feel like you might have malaria, get yourself to a real doctor because no amount of cocktails are going to fix it.
Myth #5: Drinking Gin Will Make You Sad
Every alcohol has its own reputation. Tequila makes you party harder, whisky will make you angry, wine makes you sleepy, and poor gin has been saddled with the reputation of making people sad and weepy. The reality is, alcohol in all its forms is a depressant and can potentially lower your mood, but it’s also dependent on the individual and their personal interaction. The myth of all gin making you sad probably stems from 18th-century London, where bad-quality ‘bathtub gin’ was made by bootleggers and generally consumed by the poor. Naturally, this had many adverse medical effects as well as ruinous effects on people’s personal lives. So yes, they were definitely sad about it, but if you’re having a good quality gin cocktail today, chances are it won’t have the same outcomes.
Myth #6: Gin Can’t Be Enjoyed Neat
Another myth that probably dates back to the days of bathtub gin and its dubious title of ‘Mother’s Ruin’. Back then gin was often swigged straight from the bottle, and not always (or rather never) with any good results. Later when gin made a more respectable comeback as a spirit enjoyed by ‘polite society’ it was always enjoyed with a tonic or as part of a cocktail to shake off any association with its dark past. Today, however, that legacy is being rewritten as a lot of gins are being designed specifically to be enjoyed neat. These ‘sipping gins’ play with natural flavours and botanicals and are best enjoyed without any additions to appreciate the full spectrum of their design.