Pop the Cork: The Gin Story
This clear spirit first emerged during the Middle Ages where Italian monks flavoured their alcoholic spirits with juniper berries and other florals. Proper distillation of gin started from the 17th century and was initially used for medicinal purpose and a morale boost for the English soldiers before they went into war with Holland.
Because of the war, gin was also sometimes called, ‘Dutch courage’.
Gin quickly rose into prominence when King William of Orange removed taxation on alcohol distillation, which increased the production of spirits tremendously all around the United Kingdom. This led to the overconsumption of gin, which affected the overall well-being of the people as well as sparked social issues such as domestic violence and high unemployment rate. The government eventually managed to find a balance by implementing The Gin Act 1751, which restricted the sale of gin only to licensed retailers and alcohol stores.
What makes gin so unique is their flavouring from botanicals and floral, predominantly with juniper berries. These days, many independent distillers are making their own versions of gins by adding different plants and sometimes spices to switch things up. Besides different flavour profiles, there are also gins categorised by the difference of distillation or production process.
Here are 4 different types of gin you’ll need to know about:
Gin infused with the sloe fruit, a small stoned fruit that belongs to the same family as plums. Sugar is usually added during the infusion to further macerate the fruit for a stronger flavour. Sloe gin is sweeter than the ordinary gin due to this factor and is naturally deep red in colour from the flesh of the fruit.
London Dry Gin
This particular type of gin follows a strict instruction on how to process ethyl alcohol with pure infusion of botanicals to make the modern gin we all enjoy so much today. No artificial flavourings are allowed and the quality of gin produced have to meet certain standards such as methanol level and alcohol strength. Contrary to its name, it need not be processed in London as the name simply defines the gin making process.
Old Tom Gin
Old Tom Gin is named after the sign of a ‘back tom cat’ which English pubs use to hang on the outside of their shop in the 18th century, to signify that sale of gin is available and you’ll be able to enjoy a shot by inserting a coin into a slot found underneath the cat paw. This type of gin is slightly sweeter and less dry as compared to the London Dry Gin.
Dutch Jenever or Genever
Genever means “juniper’ in Dutch and the liquor is exclusively produced in either Holland or Belgium.
Often deemed as the mother of gin, it’s the predecessor to the London Dry, when gin used to be made with a malt wine base, resulting in a smoky and buttery flavour as compared to the other types of gin.