Gins are beloved spirits that have a rich history and a diverse array of flavours. It is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a base for various cocktails. This article will explore the world of gin, from its origins to the different types of gins available today.
Origins of Gin
The origins of gin can be traced back to the 16th century in Holland when a Dutch physician first distilled it as a medicine. The drink was made by distilling malt wine with juniper berries, which are believed to have medicinal properties. This early version of gins was known as jenever, which means juniper in Dutch.
Gins were introduced to England in the 17th century, where they became popular with the working class due to their low cost and availability. Gins quickly gained a reputation as cheap and potent drinks, which led to a period known as the “Gin Craze” in the 18th century. During this time, gins were blamed for various social problems, including crime, poverty, and health issues.
Types of Gins
Several different types of gins are available, each with its unique flavour and production process. The main types of gins are:
London Dry: This is the most popular type of gin, known for its dry and juniper-forward flavour. Despite the name, London Dry can be made anywhere worldwide as long as it meets specific production standards. Redistilling neutral spirits make it with botanicals, including juniper berries, coriander, and angelica root.
Plymouth: Plymouths can only be made in Plymouth, England. It has a slightly sweeter flavour than London Dry and is made with a unique blend of botanicals, including lemon peel, cardamom, and orris root.
Old Tom: Old Tom was famous in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is slightly sweeter than London Dry and is made by adding sugar to the distillation process.
Genever: Genever is the original style of gin and is still produced in the Netherlands and Belgium. It has a maltier flavour than other gins and is made by distilling a mash of rye, wheat, and corn.
Flavoured Gins: In recent years, flavoured gins have become popular. These gins are infused with various botanicals, including fruit, herbs, and spices. Some famous flavoured gins include raspberry, elderflower, and lavender.
Gins are a popular base for various cocktails, including some of the most iconic drinks in the world. Here are a few classic gin cocktails that you should try:
Gin and Tonic: The gin and tonic is a simple and refreshing drink that is perfect for a hot summer day. To make a gin and tonic, fill a glass with ice, add a shot of gin, and top it with tonic water. Garnish with a slice of lime.
Martini: The martini is a classic cocktail made with gin and vermouth. To make a martini, stir gin and vermouth with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon or an olive.
Negroni: The negroni is a bitter and complex cocktail made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. To make a negroni, stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass over ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
Gimlet: The gimlet is a simple and refreshing cocktail that is made with gin and lime juice. To make a gimlet, combine gin and lime juice in a shaker with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a slice of lime.
Tom Collins: The Tom Collins is a refreshing, fizzy cocktail perfect for a hot day. To make a Tom Collins, combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a slice of lemon.
Gins are fascinating and versatile spirits that have been enjoyed for centuries. From its humble beginnings as a medicinal tonic to the wide variety of gins available today, gins have come a long way. Whether you prefer classic London Dry or fruity and floral-flavoured gins, there are gins for everyone. So the next time you want to enjoy a refreshing and delicious drink, reach for the spirit and toast to the history and diversity of this beloved drink.