Gin is said to have been created by a Dutch physician, Franciscus Sylvius in the mid 17th century for medicinal purposes, however the existence of genever is confirmed in Philip Massinger’s play, The Duke of Milan (1623).Some schools of thought also claim that British soldiers who offered support in Antwerp against Spain in 1585 were already enjoying this drink for its calming effects before they went into battle.
Gin made from spirit alcohol
Gin can be made from any spirit alcohol made from agricultural products. This must meet the neutral alcohol requirement laid down in the spirit drink regulations. The neutral alcohol should be distilled to a minimum of 96 percent ABV and the residue must not exceed the requirements stated in the neutral alcohol definition. The finest raw materials for the neutral spirit are either molasses or grain (maize/barley).The best neutral alcohol has no flavour at all.
Gin from flavoured substances (compounding)
This alcoholic beverage can be made by flavouring suitable alcohol with flavouring substances which give a predominant taste of juniper. This technique is commonly referred to as compounding.
Flavouring ingredients must be all natural and are usually known as botanicals. The quantity and type of each producer’s botanicals are different since they rely on closely guarded recipes. All gins include juniper as an ingredient, other botanicals used include angelical, lemon peel, coriander, lemon peel, grains of paradise and lemon peel. Typically a fine gin contains 6-10 botanicals.
Distillation processes usually vary between producers. In most cases the spirit is diluted by adding pure water to attain the required strength of about 45 percent ABV. This is pumped into a still which is normally made of copper and flavouring ingredients added before the concoction is left to steep.
The still is heated using a steam jacket or coil to get rid of essential oils from the botanicals; this is what gives flavouring to the spirit. The first distillate runnings are circulated until an appropriate strength and standard (90 and above) is attained. The foreshots or lower quality part of the run and end of the run also known as feints as judged by the experience and skill of the Stillman are run redistilled.
Basically the middle run is used to produce high quality gin; this is run off at about 80-85 percent ABV. The product then undergoes a control tasting panel and may be analysed by gas chromatography to ensure that it adheres to the necessary specifications .After distillation, only neutral alcohol, small amounts of sugar and water can be added.
The resulting gin is normally brought to the required EU legal minimum alcohol level (minimum of 37.5 percent ABV ) to meet the EC requirements, however some gins have a higher level due to addition of pure de-mineralized water. At this juncture the drink is ready for bottling since it does not require any period of maturation.
Types of Gin
London Dry gin
This is drink is what most people think of as gin. The drink is heavily juniper-flavoured, aromatic, dry and light in body. To achieve this flowery botanical tone, the gin is infused with various aromatic ingredients during the 2nd or 3rd distillation process which gives each brand its own unique taste. London dry gin is not necessary made in London, you are likely to find this beverage in your local store going by different brands names such as Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray and Beefeater.
This is a less dry variant of the London dry gin made in Plymouth, England. It is infused with various roots and features earthy flavours with soft juniper notes unlike other drinks. Currently there is only one brand of Plymouth gin produced in the world commonly known as Plymouth.
Old Tom Gin
Sweeter type of London Dry gin. It has fuller body.
Dutch or Genever gin
Made from malt grains which gives darker colour and taste different than others
This covers all other type of gins that predominantly infused with flavors other than juniper berries.
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