What is gin?
There are few drinks easier to guzzle down than a gin and tonic. Yet aside from that—and notable cocktails like the gin martini and Negroni—it’s not consumed nearly as much as other spirits by Americans. Many don’t know the difference between gin and vodka—which we discussed in our earlier article What Is Vodka. It’s not an easy drink to pinpoint, as it is one of the broadest categories of spirits with a wide variety of styles and flavors. But not to worry, we’re here to demystify this spirit by giving you a quick rundown on all things gin.
-A clear spirit distilled from grain or malt and then flavored with juniper berries.
-To be classified as a gin, juniper berries have to be the main flavoring agent
-Its ABV ranges from 36-50%
A brief history:
-Although commonly associated with England, gin was actually first produced by the Dutch
-The earliest documented reference to “genever”—appeared in a thirteenth century work titled Der Naturen Bloeme
-By the middle of the 1600s, Dutch distillers popularized the re-distillations of malt spirits with juniper as a flavoring agent. This product was sold in pharmacies and used to treat a wide variety of ailments
-Gin really rose to popularity in England when William of Orange, who was Dutch, took the throne with his wife Mary in the Glorious Revolution of 1688
-However, it wasn’t until the English government allowed unlicensed gin production while simultaneously imposing large taxes on all imported spirits in the late seventeenth century.
-This resulted in thousands of gin-shops as it became the most economical drink. This surge in gin drinking led to this period being dubbed the “Gin Craze,” which many blamed for a variety of societal problems that arose at the time
Gin vs. Gin
So, you may be asking, if gin is such a broad category of spirit, what types are there? Here is the three most popular styles you’ll come across:
1. London Dry gin: this is the one most people associate with “gin.” Simply put, it gets its flavor from a neutral grain spirit and is distilled with botanicals. Nothing is added after this re-distillation.
2. Old Tom: this style is characterized by the sugar in the redistillation process, making it sweeter
3. Dutch gin—or Genever: The earliest known style of gin. It starts with a malted grain mash, similar to whiskey
Of course, there are other types and much more to discuss with gin. But we hope this cleared up some things about gin and gets you into this underrated spirit. Thanks for reading and as always...