Most people distinguish Gin as the spirit flavored with the juniper plant that’s often complimented by tonic water and twist of lime. This is all true, but a traditional gin & tonic is beyond basic; it far from represents gin’s full potential.
Once used in the Middle Ages as an herbal medicine, gin has made its way to being the most popular and widely distributed spirit in the industry. From a Tom Collins to a Martinez, there are many different concoctions to create that will appeal to every flavor fix. Still, this isn’t just due to your choice of mixer, your gin selection matters as well. What many don’t know is that there isn’t just one kind of “gin”—there are various origins, styles and flavor types that you may not be aware of.
So let the lesson begin:
Distilled Gin: A traditional alcohol that’s been redistilled with juniper berries and other botanicals. Sometimes, other flavors will be added as well.
Genever: A Dutch style gin distilled from a malted mash similar to what is used for whiskey. The muse for the origin of traditional gin, Genever is slightly sweet and comes in two types (old & young) that differ from their distilling techniques. Oude is the older style with a darker color and stronger malt flavor; Jonge, the newer style with both lighter color and flavor.
Gin: A higher proof, vodka-like spirit flavored with juniper and other natural flavors pegged as more of a “tasteless alcohol.”
London Gin: A more modern, drier gin, this alcohol has been redistilled with juniper and other plants, but there are no additional ingredients (flavors or colors) besides water or ethyl alcohol. This gin will never be sweet or syrupy.
Mahon: Only made on the island of Menorca (off the Mediterranean coast of Spain), Mahon is a wine-distilled gin that’s been manufactured by craftsman on the island for the past 200 years.
Old Tom Gin: The sweetest of the gin family, this British style spirit has a lot of history, as it dates back to mid 18th century England. Once dispensed in gin palaces via vending-machine style contraptions, this full-bodied spirit is making a comeback in today’s cocktail craze.
Plymouth Gin: Similar to London dry style gin, this is a type of alcohol that can only be produced in Plymouth, England. With earthier root ingredients and fruitier flavors, this spirit has a much smoother juniper flavor that’s slightly sweeter than London gin.
Sloe Gin: Soaking sloe berries—a small fruit that is a relative of the plum—in massive containers of gin produces this red liqueur. By adding sugar, the juice is extracted from the berries and then added into the traditional alcohol, creating a subtly sweet concoction.
Now that you’re a gin aficionado, you’ll be able to pick the perfect style spirit to give any classic cocktail a flawless flavor catered to your liking.