Why London Dry Gin Doesn't Have To Be Made In London
You may have come across the words “London Dry Gin” on the label of quality gins like Gordon’s or Tanqueray. But you may be surprised to learn that the name isn’t directly linked to the spirit’s provenance. As a matter of fact, “London Dry Gin” can be made anywhere in the world because what it refers to is a production method and not a geographical location.
However, London Dry’s story did indeed begin in London, back in the 1700s, when the teeming metropolis was witness to a boom in the gin distilling industry. By the 18th century, London Dry Gin was synonymous with its signature juniper berry flavour, along with a host of other botanicals. (For instance, Gordon’s recipe — a closely guarded secret since 1769 — was known to feature coriander seeds, angelica root, liquorice, orris root, orange and lemon peel in addition to the juniper base. A creation that dates to several years later — 1830 to be precise — Charles Tanqueray’s London Dry Gin has a similar legacy of being made with the same classic recipe from the time of its inception to the present day.)
Spirit Of London
For a spirit to lay claim to the “London Dry Gin” nomenclature, a few conditions must be met: It must contain no artificial ingredients, colours or flavours; these cannot be added at any stage of the distillation process (before/after). The infusion of botanicals is through distillation. And juniper must be the main flavour.
Cut to the present, and while many London Dry Gins continue to be distilled in the UK, specifically in its capital, several other countries also have a thriving production scene. In some instances, additional flavours have helped the spirit evolve as per the local palate, enhancing its popularity among consumers. Let’s take a quick tour?
A Global Favourite
Japan — Japanese distillers are known for their meticulous craftsmanship that creates smooth, refined and subtle beverages. Their adaptation of London Dry Gin embraces local botanicals including yuzu, sakura blossoms, and green tea! This sophisticated Japanese touch to the already popular spirit adds a layer of finesse and versatility for gin enthusiasts.
Italy — London Dry Gin is a very popular choice for aperitivo (pre-meal drinks), and with Italians’ passion for good food and drink, it isn’t a mystery as to why. Their adaptation of the beverage includes a lot of native herbs and botanicals such as basil, thyme and lemon zest, which makes cocktail hour truly flavourful and delicious.
India — London Dry Gin is a desi favourite, and some iterations of the spirit distilled here will have cardamom and cassia bark as additional flavours.
Spain — Spanish distilleries are known for their bold and flavourful gins, so expect to find notes of fresh citrus fruits, rosemary and thyme in the London Dry Gins produced here.
The Netherlands – The Dutch have a rich history when it comes to distillation and their take on London Dry Gin is another notable feat in the area. Dutch gin, or genever, infuses fennel and caraway, adding more warm and spicy tones to the spirit.
The US – The American cocktail crafting movement loves London Dry Gin. Their take on the popular spirit may see an infusion of Californian peppers and Appalachian herbs, adding a hint of spice.
As you travel the world, you may want to check out how different regions have made the London Dry Gin their own. You may find a new flavour you love — or realise you prefer the classic recipe for a reason. In either case, remember to enjoy your London Dry Gin responsibly!