Gin: Everything You Need To Know

Gin: Everything You Need To Know

Gin, a beloved and versatile spirit, has a rich history and a distinctive flavour profile that sets it apart in the world of distilled beverages.

From its origins in 17th-century Holland to its current revival in craft distilleries worldwide, gin has evolved into a drink of choice for cocktail enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.

For me gin’s very definition is a predominantly juniper flavoured spirit; and if it doesn’t taste of juniper – DON’T label it as gin.

Historical Roots:

The story of gin begins in the Netherlands, where like many other spirits, it was initially created as a medicinal tonic. Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius is often credited with creating the precursor to gin, known as genever.

He distilled malt wine with juniper berries and other botanicals for their perceived health benefits and as a battlefield anaesthetic. Soldiers began drinking it before battle and the phrase ‘Dutch Courage’ was born; there are other ideas about where the expression came from but I quite like this one!

The spirit eventually made its way to England, by the hand of William of Orange, where it underwent further alteration and popularisation. William of Orange abolished licensing laws to enable home production of gin as an alternative to the more popular drinks at the time of French wines and brandies; the purchase of which were filling the French exchequer’s pockets with money that was being spent waging war against both Holland and England.

The refinement of gin only happened after many women were ruined by the rough origins of home-distilled gin, and others were “pissed for a penny”, then London rioted when the revoked licensing laws were reintroduced to curb a drunken London. Gin moved away from the spit and sawdust of bar room brawls to gin palaces and more refined ways.

Production Process:

Gin is a distilled spirit that gets its predominant flavour from juniper berries, which give a piney and herbal quality to the liquid. The production process typically involves distilling a grain-based spirit with juniper berries and a botanical mix that can include a wide array of ingredients such as coriander (seeds not leaf!), citrus peel, angelica root, and more.

The resulting distillate is then diluted to bottling strength, showcasing the complex flavours that characterise different styles of gin and the balances between other botanical flavours with juniper. The production process used determines what style of gin it is.

Whilst there are many styles of gin, the three predominant styles are:

  • Gin
  • Distilled Gin
  • London Dry Gin

The significant differences between Gin and London Dry Gin lie in the fact that the latter can only have its flavour added through traditional copper pot distillation of natural botanicals, cannot contain any sweeteners, and must use a cleaner spirit.

Gin can have its flavour created using a variety of methods, using concentrates or tinctures, with or without extra sweeteners and sugars added. Nonetheless it must in my opinion maintain a backbone flavour of juniper!

D1 is a London Dry Gin made in a citrus style. Many people think that a London Dry should be made in London, but that's a common misconception. A London Dry is the more discerning choice!

Varieties and Styles:

Gin comes in various styles, each with distinct traits and flavour profiles. London Dry Gin, known for its dryness and strong juniper presence, is a popular choice for classic cocktails like the Gin and Tonic or Martini.

New Western-style gins emphasise botanical diversity and creativity, often introducing unconventional ingredients such as cucumber, lavender, or exotic spices.

These flavour varieties are commonly categorised into four styles:

  • Citrus
  • Floral
  • Spicy
  • Herbaceous

Clearly though juniper should remain centre stage!

Cocktail Culture:

Gin has been an integral part of cocktail culture for centuries, inspiring the creation of classic drinks that have stood the test of time.

From the sophisticated Negroni, the refreshing Tom Collins, the timeless Gin Fizz and the quintessential Gimlet, gin serves as a versatile base that complements a wide range of mixers and flavours.

Craft Distilling Revolution:

In recent years, the craft distilling movement has breathed new life into the gin industry, with artisanal producers (every Tom, Dick and Harry) experimenting with small-batch distillations, ‘unique’ botanical blends, and ‘innovative’ aging techniques.

For a period every man/woman and their dog were foraging for botanicals at the bottom of gardens to create local gin expressions. This renaissance sparked a renewed interest in traditional gin styles as well as the emergence of bold and unconventional expressions that push the boundaries of what gin can be.

Possibly too far as many people don’t know what gin is any more after world-renowned brands have stretched the definition of gin beyond what it is, in the attempt to sell more product and keep reinventing the category.

Today half of the bottles with gin on the label don’t have any juniper flavour and some don’t even contain juniper at all!

The glorious bitter flavours of juniper have been replaced with sugary syrups and fruit flavours.

Global Appeal:

Gin's appeal extends far beyond its European origins, with distilleries in countries like the United States, Japan, Australia and Spain putting their own spin on this beloved spirit.

Local botanicals, distillation methods and aging processes all contribute to the distinctive terroir of each region's gin, reflecting a diverse and dynamic landscape of flavours and styles. Ummmm, did the word terroir get used then? Delete that, there is absolutely no terroir in gin, beyond regional flavours from local ingredients, which is definitely not terroir. But hey, it sounded good and it's a word used frequently!


In conclusion, gin stands as a testament to the enduring allure of craft and tradition in the world of spirits. Although some of that allure is marketing craft!

Whether enjoyed neat, in a classic cocktail, or as part of an inventive mixology creation, gin continues to captivate drinkers with its botanical complexity, historical significance, and boundless potential for innovation. Raise a glass to gin, a spirited exploration that promises new discoveries with every sip.

And remember if it doesn’t taste of juniper ………..  wafting a juniper berry past a rhubarb crumble or some strawberry sweet pink stuff does not make it gin in my humble opinion! Cheers!

P.S. Pink Gin is traditionally gin with added Angostura bitters.

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