Gin and tonic is one of the most fashionable drinks, nobody can deny it. Gin lovers are in luck because they have a great variety of options on the market. You will be able to choose between the old classics as well as the new types of gin with fruity flavours and surprising colours.
Nowadays, it’s easy to find one that best suits your preferences and taste because there are so many to choose from. It doesn’t matter if you like to drink it straight, on the rocks or if you want to mix it with tonic. However before picking out a new bottle of gin, it’s interesting to learn about the fundamental characteristic of gin and the differences that are out there. If you really want to find the best gin on the Australian market, continue reading our guide.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about Gin
- 3 Shopping Criteria
- 4 Summary
- Gin is made in Holland and England. Dutch gin is stronger and is almost always called “juniper flavoured drink”. This means that its technically not gin, but an eau-de-vie with a juniper aroma. It’s stronger and actually tastes quite terrible.
- There are many types of gins. All types of gin have flavour and aroma. There is citrus, fruity, herbal, spicy and floral aromas. Keep the flavouring and aroma in mind before choosing a gin.
- Gin, unlike most spirits, is not usually drunk straight. Although it has a very personal taste, drinking it straight is not the norm. Instead, it is ideal as a base for making cocktails and mixing with sodas.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about Gin
Gin is a drink with an extremely long tradition. Originally from London, it is one of the world’s best-selling and most famous spirits. Here is a list of frequently asked questions from users so that you understand this drink and be in the position to make a solid purchase.
What is gin?
Gin is a liqueur derived from Dutch jenever (a juniper berry flavoured liquor). It has a high alcohol percentage that usually ranges from 37 to 47. It is obtained by distilling unmalted barley. Juniper berries are added and flavoured with cardamom, angelica (herb) and other herbs. The aroma is courtesy of cassia bark, iris and orange peel. To obtain the name “gin”, the liquor must taste like the juniper berry.
There are however several variations, depending on the concentration and method of fermentation/production. Gin is famous for being part of the cocktail gin & tonic, one of the most important alcoholic combinations in the world. Gin & tonic is made by mixing tonic and gin, and adding ice.
Where is gin made?
Originally, gin was made in Holland. The first records of juniper berry distillation are Dutch. Later, German doctors began making juniper liqueur for medical purposes. From there it went to England, where it was distilled in Plymouth and, above all, in London, where the world’s most renowned distilleries are still located.
In each distinct place, gin was distilled in one form. For example, in Holland and Germany it was made by distilling steam from pure alcohols. In England it was made in the traditional way. In Plymouth (England) sulphuric acid was added, Bombay Saphire is flavoured with almonds, liquorice and lily root from Florence (Italy). As you can see, each gin is different.
How is gin made?
Dutch malt is produced from a third of crushed, fermented and rectified malt. Alcohol is added and distilled. The result is mixed with flavourings and aromas, and then is distilled again. This produces a product with an alcoholic percentage of between 43 and 44. Dutch gin is strong!
British gin is produced by adding a mixture of high percentage alcohol, and with this, the gin it loses aroma and flavour. This is reduced with water and left in containers with flavouring and aroma intensifying agents. Then, like in Holland, it is distilled again. After several reductions a tasty product with an alcohol content of between 40 and 47 percent is left.
What’s gin made of?
Gin is made from unmalted barley and juniper. The main ingredient of gin is the juniper berry, which gives the juniper juice. It is this unique ingredient that gives it such a particular flavour, which is described as dry and strong flavoured. The most popular gin is also made with blackthorn berries.
Distilleries mix the base product with natural flavouring and aromatic products to enhance the gin. In England strawberries are used, mixed with other ingredients. Among the most popular ingredients that is: angelica root, almonds, coriander, cardamom, cassia root, aniseed and orange peel. Lemon or coriander is used to give a touch of citrus.
How many types of gin are there?
Gin is a very personal drink that is generally associated with style. It is a transparent colour and has a fresh flavour that is perfect as a base for many combinations. It is pretty difficult to know how many types of gin actually exist, as there is no official list. However, here is a general breakdown of the types of gin according to experts:
- Juniper-flavoured spirits: This is actually juniper-flavoured eau-de-vie. They are considered to be gin, although they technically are not. They are the result of a process in which eau-de-vie is flavoured with juniper berries. Common or red juniper berries can also be used.
- Gin: Made with common juniper berries and ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin. Its predominant flavour must be that of the juniper berry. It is generally aromatised during distillation with botanical aromas.
- Distilled Gin: Characterised differently before the manufacturing process, you must first aromatise the alcohol. After aromatisation, the distilling process takes place. It must have a minimum level of 96% alcohol.
- London Gin: Also known as London Dry Gin. It is the most commercialised and well known. It can be characterised by being dry and the absence of colorants, sweeteners and additives. It is flavoured in traditional stills. It is distilled after being flavoured.
How do you drink gin?
Unlike other spirits, gin is not usually drunk straight. However, there some of the highest quality gins can be drunk straight, usually with ice and a few slices of cucumber or lemon rind. These gins are usually very smooth, with a lot of aroma and very natural flavours. Because of its fresh and dry taste, gin is an ideal base for making many alcoholic combinations and cocktails.
Gin is used in the famous dry martini that James Bond drinks. It is also found in the popular Gin Fizz. A Gin Rickey is a simple combination of gin with soda and ice, which is further mixed with orange juice and lemon soda. However we can not forget the most famous of them all, the Gin and Tonic.
How can I tell it is a premium gin?
Just with glance you should be able to distinguish a normal gin from a premium gin. Yes, it’s that simple. The premium gin has a much more careful and detailed presentation and bottle design. Within the premium ranges you will find bottles designed to impress. Another obvious difference will be in the price and of course, the ingredients will also be different.
As with many drinks, water is one of the main ingredients. Each premium brand utilises high quality water for its premium gins. Some use water from high mountain springs and even from arctic glaciers. You can see that there are big differences between normal and premium gins.
How many gin botanical bases are there?
One of the best ways to seperate the types of gin is by their botanical bases. These botanical bases are the products that are used to aromatise the gin. Each area, each brand and each type of gin uses one product or another.
Although some products are used for all types of gins, some are used only for one type. Here is a table with information on the types of botanical bases of gin that exist:
|Botanical bases for gin||Aroma||Flavour||Nuance|
|Classic||Juniper||Fresh and dry||Juniper|
|Predominately citrus||Citrus aromas prevail||Sweetness||Grapefruit, orange, lemon, mandarin and lime|
|Herbal||Botanical with notes of grass and a very intense aroma||Very fresh and pleasant flavour||Mint, basil, rosemary and thyme|
|Floral||Mild aroma of flowers||Intense and sweet flavour, less dry than others||Lilies, roses, violets, geranium and jasmine|
|Fruit||Pleasant aroma of berry fruits||Flavour of red fruits and berries||Grape, strawberry and apple|
|Spicy||Wide range of aromas||Intense spicy flavour, with cinnamon||Cinnamon, pepper, angelica root and nutmeg|
What other uses does gin have?
Gin is actually much more than a drink. You probably didn’t know this, but it’s an ideal glass cleaner. Although it may not be so common in Australia, it is also one of the ingredients of the famous English meatloaf. A little gin is added to the dough and, as it evaporates less than water, it keeps the meatloaf texture consistent.
Another ideal function for gin is as an aftershave. As it’s also a disinfectant, it works to soothe the skin after shaving. In the old days, gin was also used as a medicine. It can be used to fight colds and flu and also has pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects, ideal for pains and heavy digestions.
Now we’ll discuss a number of things you should consider before buying a bottle of gin. Understanding the most important buying criteria makes it easier for you to make a good purchase. Don’t rush, there are many gins and many brands on the market. If you want to choose a quality gin, follow these criteria:
- Type of gin
- Botanical classification
- Beneficial properties
- Alcohol content
Type of gin
As explained earlier in the article, there are a couple of different types of gin available on the market. The first type of gin is classified more as a juniper brandy, which is basically an alcoholic drink flavoured with juniper.
The second gin is made only with common juniper berries and flavoured with botanicals. This distilled gin is made from 96% distilled alcohol and is of agricultural origin. It is distilled and flavoured during the production process.
The last one is the London Dry Gin, the most commercialised and consumed. It is the usual dry gin, free of colorants, sweeteners and additives. The aromas are added by using traditional botanical products.
The taste and aroma of gin are a factor that you can’t ignore when making your choice. In classic gins, the predominant taste is that of the juniper berry. But it doesn’t have to be the only one. Many gins have citrus flavours such as orange, lemon, mandarin or grapefruit. These citrus flavours are fresher and make the gin ideal for drinking straight or simply with ice and a slice of lemon.
Herbals are also an important aspect to gins. These tend to have a wider range, as there are many herbs and plants that can be added during the manufacturing process. The most common herbals are mint, rosemary and thyme. These herbal flavours make strong flavoured gins.
Finally, there are also floral flavoured gins, although these are much rarer. These have notes of jasmine or lily that give it a sweet touch. The sweetest types of gins are those with fruit tree flavours.
One of the main differences between premium and normal gins is in the presentation of the product. As we know, image is important. It is a factor that influences the price and overall quality of gin. Brands such as Tanqueray or Hendricks take the presentation of their products very seriously. These packages are usually eye-catching and well-designed.
Another aspect you shouldn’t overlook is quantity. Most often we find gin in 0.7 litre or 1 litre bottles. Some brands offer 0.75 litre bottles, however this isn’t the norm. Gin doesn’t expire, so don’t worry if you’re not a big drinker. If it’s left over after a party, you can always keep it until your next dinner or celebration with friends.
Gin was actually born as a medicine before becoming a fashionable drink. It is composed of juniper along with plants, spices, flowers and fruits. It was originally used as a remedy for the common flu and cold. Surprisingly, it is also a good disinfectant, so it can be used to clean wounds. Even more, it is so good for cleaning that it can be used to disinfect surfaces such as a bench top. Over the years it has always been used as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
Gin is also an effective remedy against colic and menstrual cramps. It can also be used for relieving a toothache or to reduce inflammation of the gums as well as relieving swelling of the stomach. Finally, from a historical point, English soldiers in India used it to fight malaria.
When making an online purchase you should not overlook the feedback from buyers. Many of these consumer comments can provide detailed information about the product. You shouldn’t just rely on product descriptions as they sometimes don’t provide much information. Comments and opinions add a lot a value during the decision process.
Although some opinions will be somewhat subjective, you will find other comments very useful. Some buyers are specialists in commenting on their purchases and love to help out of customers. Read these comments carefully, as they will provide you with information that is almost always better than the description.
Gin is a beverage with a very distinct taste. It is usually very dry and, although some have pleasant flavours, they are not usually drunk straight. Some brands create gins ideal for drinking straight with ice and a little cucumber or a slice of lemon. But it’s not that common. So if you don’t like to mix drinks, gin perhaps isn’t for you.
If you want a good gin for an evening with friends, don’t choose a premium bottle. These are very expensive and are usually better reserved for special cocktails. A London Dry Gin is ideal for mixing with tonic. Many have personal flavours, so it is not necessary to add too much additional flavour.
Some brands and distilleries are well known in the world of gin. Tanqueray or Hendricks are some of the most consumed and most respected gin brands. Both make top quality liqueurs and have hundreds of years of experience. Both of these distilleries use traditional recipes to make a nice, delicious dry gin. Generally speaking, the new, modern distilleries seek to innovate the production process. But really, there’s nothing like the old traditional way.
With the rise in popularity of gin and tonic, new style distilleries try to find something that makes them different from the old favourites. The pink gin offering from Puerto de Indias, for example, has blown up the market with its innovation. These gins often have added flavours and smells. Among the new-age distilleries it has become fashionable to add color to the gins.
Gin usually goes through several distillation processes. In some cases the original product exceeds 96% alcohol. Agricultural alcohols are used to produce gin which means that they are made through the fermentation of vegetable grains. These gins are very fine and have a very traditional taste.
The most common alcohol content for a bottle of gin is between 37% and 47% alcohol. The alcohol content level will be a factor that influences the price of the product. The higher the alcohol content, the more expensive the gin will be. The takeaway is that it is a product with a high alcohol content but an ideal base for making cocktails and enjoying your night.
Gin is a very personal drink. It shows a lot about a persons personality. However unlike other spirits, it is very difficult to drink straight. Luckily, it’s aromas and flavours make it ideal to be mixed. A gin and tonic, with a slice of lemon is an excellent drink. As is a the famous dry martini. As it is an alcoholic beverage, remember to drink responsibly.
Choosing the best gin is something you should do with care. Follow your tastes and instincts. Choose a gin flavoured with a fruit you like or a herbal one if you want something a little more intense. Look at its botanical base and its price or simple choose it for its design. If you want the best gin on the market, just follow the steps we advise.
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(Source of featured image: Soler: 19615856/ 123rf.com)