How is Gin Made?
Many people identify gin with classic cocktails such as a Martini or Tom Collins. This cocktail spirit offers so much complexity and delicacy that makes it so special.
What is Gin?
The U.S. legal definition of "gin" is “product obtained by original distillation from mash, or by redistillation of distilled spirits, or by mixing neutral spirits, with or over juniper berries and other aromatics, or with or over extracts derived from infusions, percolations, or maceration of such materials, and includes mixtures of gin and neutral spirits”. Gin is bottled at a no less than 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). If it is re-distilled in the presence of botanicals, not just flavored with juniper, it can be called distilled gin.
However, modern gins are gins with primarily non-juniper flavours. Craft distilleries favor modern gins since ingredients or flavor profiles are not so limited. There are a variety of types of gins, including contemporary, floral, herbal, and spiced gins. The contemporary trend is also worldwide, with gin of all types made across the globe.
What is Gin Made Of?
Like vodka, the base of gin is a neutral, clear spirit that can be made with any fermentable ingredients. The neutral base is typically made of cereal, mostly wheat. It becomes gin when flavored with juniper.
Angelica root, orris root, licorice root, cassia bark, orange peel, grapefruit peel, and dried herbs like coriander and anise are some common botanicals used in gin. While all gins have the taste of juniper, these botanical ingredients are what makes each gin distinctive.
The consistency of the distillation, the choice of stills, and the methods for adding flavourings influence the gin flavour profile.
3 Ways in Extracting Flavours for Gin
Gin is produced by re-distilling ethanol with juniper berries and other botanicals with a neutral base spirit. Gin distillers use these three processes to infuse botanicals into the ethanol.
Steeping - The distiller combines ethanol and botanicals in a pot still or metal container positioned over a heat source. Botanicals steep in the base spirit. They can distill the botanicals immediately or steep for up to 48 hours, depending on the distiller’s ideal flavour profile.
Vapour Infusion - This second form of gin production involves steaming with a Carterhead still, known as vapour infusion. The botanicals are put in a basket hung above the base spirit. As the spirit heats in the still, the ethanol vapors pass through the botanicals. Thus, they release their essential oils into the vapours. The vapours – now infused with botanical flavours - condenses back into a liquid.
Vacuum distillation – This process is a newer way of making gin, showing the continuing development of this centuries-old spirit. It requires a low-pressure vacuum setting, which significantly reduces the boiling point of ethanol. Proponents of this process assert that the flavors from the botanicals stay better intact without the excessive heat.
Types of Gin
Gin dates to sixteenth-century Holland, developing in different parts of the world into all types of gin that can satisfy any palate.
London Dry: Gin does not have to come from England only, but it is the root of the style. Juniper is the most readily identifiable part of a London Dry Gin usually with additional citrus, angelica root, and coriander flavours.
Plymouth: Plymouth Gin is made and bottled only by Plymouth Gin Distillery in Southern England. It has an earthy spice driven flavour profile.
Old Tom: Old Tom Gin has a lush, sweet mouthfeel that makes it distinctive in a range of shaken and stirred cocktails from the classic Tom Collins to Martinez.
Genever: The predecessor to modern gin is Genever. The savory, earth, and malty taste originates from sixteenth-century Holland. Distillers make genever from malt wine spirits rather than neutral grain spirits. Its robust flavour palate is ideal for any cocktail with sweet vermouth.
International style: New gins emerge every day all over the world. Many develop their spirits to represent their geography directly, integrating local ingredients and botanicals.
Each distiller has its own special combination of botanical ingredients that can make gin sweeter, earthier, or drier. Choose the gin you prefer by the botanicals and style that influence the final flavour profile.
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