Gin, How is it made?
How is it made? GIN Many of us have gin as our favourite tipple. We love it with tonic, in cocktails or on its own. Many of us enjoy its juniper-like taste and its dry palate, others love the aromas and botanical notes. Gin however, hasn't always been a luxury drink present in fancy cocktails bars. Who invented such a fabulous drink? Where does it come from? This article gives us an introduction to the fascinating world of gin and a glimpse into its history. Gin takes its name from the Dutch and French words for juniper (jenever and genièvre respectively). As the name implies, juniper is an important ingredient in most -if not all- recipes for gin. In this article we will be talking about the most popular British style of Gin: London Dry Gin. Early days A form of gin is first mentioned (and referred to as Genever) in the Dutch 13th century encyclopaedia: Der Naturen Bloeme. In the 17th century, a theatre play entitled: 'The Duke of Milan' also mentions it. From the 17th century onwards gin became more popular and many distilleries sprang around Amsterdam and Belgium. In those days gin was used as a medicine to treat ailments like gout. Gin took off in Britain during the rule of William of Orange (1689). It was during this time that inferior quality gin was consumed in vast quantities by the majority of the population. By the 18th century, gin consumption was completely out of control in Britain. Due to government regulations taxes on foreign alcohol were very high. The grain available, intended for alcohol production, was of poor quality. This, together with the laxity of distilling regulations, gave rise to Gin's darkest period: The Gin Craze. During this period, the poorer and most numerous segment of the population, became obsessed with the beverage. Literally thousands (upwards of 15 000) of gin shops operated in London alone. This had severe effects on the health of the people. Legislation like the Gin Act 1736 intended to regulate and reduce the production and consumption of gin. This first attempt to regulate the spirit led to riots and unrest and was not effective. It wasn't until 1751 that a new Gin Act was enacted and it succeeded in bringing gin under control. Alcohol licenses were imposed and local authorities were given the task of sanctioning the production and distribution of gin. By this time, column stills were used in the production of gin and more spirit could be produced more uniformly and efficiently. The Gin Making process British gin (London Dry Gin) is made in a different way than Dutch Genever. The former is made from the re-distillation of neutral grain spirit infused with juniper berries and botanicals, followed by the addition of water to reduce the alcoholic strength. The latter is made from mashing grains or cereals and fermenting them to make a beer. That beer is distilled once to produce 'malt wine' which is infused with juniper berries and other botanicals. This infused malt wine is re-distilled and the resulting spirit is Dutch genever. Both spirits differ in that their alcoholic strength and character are very different. It is surprising to see how both products became so unique and distinctive as the centuries went on. Nowadays both products are protected by law and strict requirements apply to their respective making processes, the labelling and even the flavour and colour of the spirit. Probably the most important regulation with regards to gin is Regulation (EC) 110/2008. There gin, and many other alcoholic drinks, are strictly defined. Gin today These days there are many gin brands out there. Some of them have been around for hundreds of years Like Plymouth gin. Others, like Portobello Road Gin, have been around for a only couple of years and are hugely popular. In Scotland, many craft distilleries have emerged in recent years, some of them have earned prestigious awards just a couple of years after they were launched. That tells you that there is craftsmanship and attention to detail when it comes to artisan gin. One fine example is North Berwick gin. Given its immense popularity, gin can be found in most bars, restaurants and even domestic drink cabinets! With so many choices, browsing the shelves of your specialist store may confuse you. For that reason we went through the hard task of curating amazing gin just for you. Check our selection here. Cheers!