Answering The 8 Most Common Queries About Gin

By: Shireen Jamooji

gin and tonic cocktail

Gin is one of the spirits taking over the world today. Gracing the trendiest bars and making its way into some wildly innovative creations, this botanical spirit is truly in the middle of its gin-naissance. But how much do you know about gin? Besides its long history and medical background, this spirit has a lot of fascinating angles to explore. 

Let's take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about gin to help you get to know the spirit better. 

8 Frequently Asked Questions About Gin

What Is Gin?

One of the most popular spirits on the market today, Gin is a distilled alcohol that’s made from juniper berries. It’s a clear spirit with distinct botanical flavours that can range from citrusy to pine or more floral notes. The versatility of gin lies in its ability to take on additional flavours from various botanicals during the distillation process.

How Is Gin Made?

Gin is crafted through a process of distillation on a foundation of grains such as wheat or barley. In the subsequent stages, a combination of botanicals and water is introduced until the desired flavour profile is achieved. For a spirit to be classified as gin, it must distinctly carry the predominant taste of juniper berries but other botanicals can be added to make each unique bottle.

gin and tonic

Are Gin And Vodka The Same Thing?

Visually they may look the same but there are a lot of key differentiators between these two spirits. They’re both made with a grain base but  Gin is infused with botanicals, including juniper, while vodka is a neutral spirit without such added flavours. The distinct taste of gin sets it apart from the more neutral and less intense character of vodka.

What Are The Different Types Of Gin?

There are many different types of gin to enjoy, each characterised by the botanicals they include and the ways that they’re aged and produced. Some of the most common types include London Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin, and New Western or American-style Gin. There are also gins aged in casks of other alcohols like sherry so they take on unique characteristics and flavours from the casks themselves.  

What’s The Best Type Of Gin To Use In Cocktails?

Most gins lend themselves well to cocktails, especially those with bright citrus flavours or classic tones so the best type of gin for cocktails can vary depending on the specific cocktail being made. Something like Gordon's The Original London Dry Gin is a versatile choice for cocktails as it offers a more neutral base on which to build flavours while something like Tanqueray No. 10 has a more botanical profile which needs to be carefully paired in cocktails.

gin and tonic cocktail

Can Gin Be Enjoyed Neat?

Historically, gin was enjoyed neat, but before the time of modern distillation methods, crudely made ‘bathtub gin’, often led people to illness and even death. That age is long gone however and although a lot of gins are designed to be enjoyed with a splash of soda or tonic, there is a category of gins being made specifically to drink neat. Termed 'sipping gins,' these spirits artfully blend natural flavours and botanicals.

What Is London Dry Gin?

Despite how it sounds "London Dry Gin" doesn't necessarily need to be made in London to bear the name. It instead denotes a specific style of gin, irrespective of its geographical origin, defined by distinctive characteristics. Typically, these gins contain minimal to no sugar, often registering at less than 0.1 grams per litre. They are crafted exclusively with natural botanicals, void of artificial flavours or colours. The production process further mandates a distillation strength of 70% ABV, subsequently diluted to a minimum of 37.5% ABV. If a gin adheres to these criteria, it qualifies as a London Dry Gin.

Is Gin Good For You?

While no alcohol is explicitly ‘good’ for you, gin was once used as part of a medicine. In the 18th century, amidst the British Raj, soldiers stationed in India received a dose of quinine as a precautionary measure against malaria. However, quinine's inherent bitterness led the soldiers to pragmatically blend a portion of their gin rations with the medicine, making the bitter remedy more palatable. That led directly to the popularity of the modern-day gin and tonic, although tonic water no longer contains quinine with 100 calories in a double measure of gin and the mild benefits of juniper, gin is one of the more health-conscious spirits.