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The Ultimate Guide To Gin

It's always gin o'clock somewhere. You love gin, we love gin, everyone loves gin. But have you often asked yourself, "What is gin, anyway?" Are you keen to learn more about it, like how it's made or what botanicals are used? Or are you looking for some delectable gin cocktail recipes? Well, you're in for a treat. Here’s a special guide to give you all the gin-fo you need about your favourite tipple. Let's dive right in…

The Ultimate Guide To Gin: History, Styles, And Gin Cocktails

What is gin? 

gin
Gin is a clear, unaged spirit made by distilling neutral grain with a selection of carefully picked botanicals, with Juniper being the star of the show. Lots of other spices and herbs like coriander seeds, angelica root, citrus peel (primarily lemon and orange), cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg (to name a few) can also be added. The aroma and flavour profile for gin has become more experimental and varied as the number of botanicals used has increased – especially as locally sourced botanicals are now innovatively used in gin production. Gin is a versatile spirit that can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or mixed into classic gin cocktails, such as the iconic gin and tonic, Martini, and Negroni.

Why is gin so popular? 

While our love affair with gin is nothing new, gin is having a moment! The quality has stepped up, the choice is huge, and thanks to its highly adaptable flavour, gin makes the perfect base for pretty much any cocktail. As it's so versatile, the flavour can be easily transformed by experimenting with adding botanical infusions such as spices, herbs and fruits.

You know how to drink it, but do you know how gin is made?

Gin is made by distilling a neutral grain or, in some cases, potatoes with juniper and other botanicals, like herbs and spices. The distilling process involves using a pot still, which heats the liquid to vaporise the alcohol and then condenses it back into a liquid form. Gin can be made in any country, but England has always been known for their gin production. London was home to many gin distilleries during their golden age; today, there are over 200 brands available worldwide. The "London Dry Gin" category can be made anywhere and is in reference to the style of gin rather than the location in which it is made.

Who invented gin?

Gin has a long history, but its origins go back to Holland. It got its name from the Dutch word genever and was created by Dr Franciscus Sylvus, a Dutch chemist, during the 16th century. Sylvus wanted to create something that would cleanse the blood of those suffering from kidney disorders. He named his creation Genever, and that's the beginning of the story of gin.

What does gin taste like?

gin taste
Most gins are dry with a noticeable pine flavour because juniper dominates traditional recipes. Some gins tend to be sweeter – typically, classic gins and modern styles tend to have a herb, fruit, or spice flavour, as there's less emphasis on juniper.

What are the different types of gin?

1. London Dry
Most people think of London Dry when they think of gin. It's the gin most likely to be used in your G&T or classic gin cocktail of choice, with Tanqueray and Gordon's being great examples. Despite its name, it doesn't have to be produced in England, and it's a style of gin that is more juniper-centric than other gins. It's called a "dry" gin because no artificial flavouring or sweeteners are added – captivating flavours that grace your palate are purely derived from the carefully selected gin botanicals.

Recommended London Dry gin cocktail: Tanqueray & Tonic

2. Old Tom
Originally a sweetened style of gin produced in the mid-18th century, Old Tom has had a total update since its bathtub gin origins. The sweetness in its flavour profile is largely from liquorice, and it’s richer than London Dry. It works beautifully in mixed drinks and pre-Prohibition-styled cocktails, especially anything with a hint of bitterness. While some Old Tom gins are sweetened with added sugars, others rely strictly on botanicals.

Recommended Old Tom gin cocktail: Martinez

3. Plymouth
It is a clear, slightly fruity, full-bodied style of gin. It's produced by the oldest Gin distillery in the UK. It's steeped in history, but beyond that, it's got a citrus heart and a spicier finish due to a blend of seven botanicals: juniper, coriander seed, dried sweet orange peels, cardamom, angelica root and orris root. Its soft, earthy character works magic in Martinis and Negronis. The small amount of water in Plymouth Gin is also special as it's pure water from the Dartmoor reservoir.

Recommended Plymouth gin cocktail: a Negroni

4. Genever
It is the original style of gin, which dates back to 16th century Holland. It's fair to say it tastes like a mix of gin and light Scotch whiskey. It gets its robust flavour from the blend of malted barley, rye and corn, although juniper and savoury botanicals are added later. Genever is the richest in its flavour profile of all the gins and works well in rich cocktail recipes or on the rocks with a twist of lemon and lime.

Recommended Genever gin cocktail: Genever Collins

5. Distilled (Flavoured) Gins
Distilled gins take it up a notch by adding a punch of flavour after distillation, thanks to those awesome signature gin botanicals. They often have a hue from the added ingredients and are technically gin liqueurs – made with distilled gin, infused, and typically sweetened and coloured. Gordon's Sicilian Lemon and  Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla are perfect examples of distilled gins used to make crowd-pleasing cocktails that taste as good as they look. It's really easy to get creative when using distilled gins in cocktails, as the distinctive flavours are easy to work with.

Recommended Distilled gin cocktail: Sevilla Orange & Tonic

The Best Ways To Serve Gin

1. Gin & tonic

Gin & tonic
There are many ways to enjoy gin, but a gin & tonic is the ultimate choice for many. A G&T sounds simple to make in terms of its cocktail ingredients – after all, it's gin, tonic water, ice and a wedge of lime. But it's actually quite easy to get wrong. What's the secret to nailing a great one at home? Experts say that the key is not to skimp on the ice! Using less ice will cause it to melt quickly and water down your drink. Opt for big ice cubes instead, as they take longer to melt, keeping your drinks fresh for a longer time. If you want something lighter than tonic water, but don't want added sugar in your cocktail, try mixing gin with soda water and a healthy squeeze of lime. Tonic water can be quite polarising, and many people think they don’t like gin simply because they don’t like tonic so why not try a flavoured tonic or lemonade to mix things up?

The Best Glass For A Gin And Tonic

The debate about the best gin glasses to serve a G&T or gin cocktails will always be a topic of conversation. From classic highballs, tumblers and balloon glasses, there are many ways to serve gin, but is there a right or wrong way? Experts say that there's no right or wrong way to do it! It all comes down to personal preference and the occasion. However, if you're sipping on a G&T, the Copa glass is a popular choice. Its shape helps concentrate those delightful gin aromas, giving your drinking experience an extra kick. Also, the glass size allows more room for bigger ice cubes. We recommend always choosing a highball for gin and tonics so there’s less chance of over-dilution.

Creative Gin Garnishes

Creative Gin Garnishes
A good garnish can transform your gin cocktail from simple to Instagrammable. We eat with our eyes first, so anything visually appealing will always taste better and make us more excited to drink. Cocktail garnishes serve another purpose too. They add aromas of subtle flavours to your cocktail or give a hint to the flavours within the gin. It helps to know a bit about your gin to find the best garnish. London Dry gins do well with citrusy garnishes. Spicy gins pair well with garnishes that balance the spice, including herbs and flowers. Floral gins are easily garnished with edible flowers, or you can mix things up with a berry garnish.

The Future Of Gin

According to the Gin experts, in recent years, we've all been getting into cocktail-making at home, which has really expanded our knowledge and piqued our curiosity. They predict that the future of gin is going to be like the roaring 20s, where gin cocktails reign supreme and people are unleashing their creativity. Thanks to all the home bartending, everyone knows how to whip up a solid G&T. Now when they venture out to bars, they're stepping up their game, getting more adventurous and curious with their gin cocktail choices. It's an exciting time for gin enthusiasts!

Gin Brands

So… when picking your gin, it really comes down to your taste. Here's how to figure out your style.

1. Gordon's London Dry Gin -
This is a triple-distilled gin flavoured with dominant juniper berries, coriander, angelica, and liquorice. Gordon's London Dry Gin is for you if you like your gin bold and juniper-forward.

2. Tanqueray London Dry Gin -
This Gin is undefeated in taste. It's distilled with four classic gin botanicals, juniper, coriander, angelica and sweet liquorice, for an unforgettable and incomparable finish. If you prefer classic gins packed with vibrant citrus, then Tanqueray is the one for you.

3. Tanqueray Rangpur Gin -
This gin is named after the Rangpur lime – a unique fruit of the native Indian Rangpur tree that blends the zestiness of lime with the juiciness of a Mandarin orange. This gin is for those who like their gin with a bittersweet flavour.
 
4. Gordon's Premium Pink Distilled Gin -
This gin balances the classic juniper taste of Gordon's with the sweetness of raspberries and strawberries and a tang of redcurrant. Choose this gin if light, slightly sweet drinks with a smooth finish are your thing. And if you want something different, there's an alcohol-free version – Gordon's Pink 0.0% Alcohol-free, the same taste, just without the alcohol, yum!

5. Tanqueray No. TEN -
Aromatic, bittersweet and effervescent, the Tanqueray No. TEN gin is crafted in small batches with the four original botanicals of London Dry and the addition of whole fresh grapefruits, oranges, limes and chamomile flowers. Choose this gin if you're looking for something exceptional.

So, What Food Pairs Well With Gin?

Food Pairs Well With Gin
What makes a good gin cocktail and food pairing? One that complements or subtly contrasts the flavours of the food. Think about the flavours that naturally complement the dish you want to serve; your gin of choice shouldn't overpower or compete with the food.

Gin is great with seafood like oysters or lobster, and it also pairs well with sushi. Are you a fan of smoked salmon? Try serving it with Gordon's Gin for a splash of refreshing citrus. Anything salty can also pair well with a gin containing citrus and floral flavours for a great contrast, so consider serving G&Ts alongside a charcuterie board full of cold meats, or keep it simple with bowls of salted nuts, olives and crisps. 

Cheese is another really good pairing. Soft and creamy cheeses, like camembert and brie, go great with a G&T, as the gin brings out the floral notes in the cheeses and the bitterness of the tonic rinses the palate. 

Stronger gin cocktails like the Martini work better with rich, fatty, and milk cheeses like fetta or pecorino. If you're pairing gin with a main meal and want something meaty, chicken or mutton is an excellent choice. Look for chicken recipes that contain juniper, as the botanical enhances the meat's flavour, so the juniper within the gin will match your meal perfectly.

Is Gin A Good Gift?

Gin is a gift that keeps giving, as it can be enjoyed in many ways; sipped straight, infused with unique flavours, and easy to mix into drinks and cocktails like a classic gin and tonic to a Negroni or a French 75. Opt for bottled gin gifts or an exclusive gin gift basket! Whether the person you're gifting prefers a classic London dry gin, a floral gin, or the pink stuff, there's a gin for every tastebud.

So, there you have it. Gin is a delicious, versatile spirit that has been around for many years. It's pretty much loved by everyone, and it's currently having a moment due to the endless gin cocktails you can whip up with it. Spread the love by sharing this article with all the gin lovers in your circle!