What is Gin?
Gin is flavoured vodka.
Gin in a distilled spirit, the main thing that unifies and ties together everything in the gin family is that they are predominantly flavoured with juniper.
Most gin starts out as a neutral grained spirit that is then infused with botanicals predominantly juniper. This makes gin essentially flavoured vodka, it also makes vodka essentially incomplete gin. There are two ways to look at it.
The History Of Gin
Gin is a spirit that gets its flavour from juniper berries and it was developed based on the earlier drink Jenever, which is the traditional juniper-flavoured national spirit of Belgium and the Netherlands.
The drink ‘Jenever’ was originally produced by the distillation of malted wine and the herbs were added later on in the process to cover the strong flavour. Juniper berries were chosen for the flavouring due to their acclaimed medicinal effects in the 1600s. This drink originally was sold as type of herbal medicine. It was said that it helped treat gallstones, stomach aches and various other ailments.
The soldiers drank shots of gin as a form of Dutch Courage during the 30 year war. The alcoholic beverage would calm their nerves making them feel better while they fought in the cold weather. The British soldiers brought gin back when they returned and it instantly became a favourite drink of the poorer communities.
What is Gin made from?
For it to be called Gin, the Spirit should have a predominant flavor of Juniper. These berries are a type of aromatic fruit that grows on the branches of juniper trees.
What are the methods of Gin distillation?
There are many different methods of distillation, each of which can be used to create different flavors of Gin. The two most common types of Gin distillation is:
- Steeping of Botanical’s
This traditional method is when the base Spirit is placed in a pot still (a pot which holds the liquor that is being distilled and heated), along with the juniper berries and the other botanical’s. The steeping process usually lasts for as long as 48 hours, although some brewers tend to distill the liquid almost immediately. Once distillation is completed, water is added to reduce the distillate to bottling strength.
- Vapor infusion of Botanical’s
In this process, it is important that the botanical’s never come into direct contact with the neutral base distilled Spirit. Instead, the brewers put the botanicals into baskets in the still above, the base spirit evaporates and infuses with the botanical’s when it’s boiled. The infused vapor is then condensed into a liquid. Finally, water is added to reduce the alcohol to its bottled strength.
This method is said to give a more gentle and lighter flavour to the Spirit.
What styles of Gin are there?
There are various types of Gin styles that are available. You can get London Dry Gin which made using only a pure grain and natural botanicals. This type of Gin can only get its flavour by re-distillation. Then there are sweeter Gins, such as an Old Tom Gin. Aged Gins on the other hand, are mainly matured in oak barrels that previously contained Scotch, Bourbon or Vermouth. The one commonality of Gin is that all the different styles and types are predominantly Juniper flavoured.
How to drink Gin
You can always drink a Gin straight. Some say that it’s the best way to enjoy a gin. This is commonly known as ‘on the rocks’, which is your favourite gin in a glass with some ice and a slice of lime or some raspberries or blueberries depending of your taste.
G&T’s are amongst the most popular drinks available on the market today, Gin and tonics are enjoyed by adding various fruits and herbs into the mix.
Where you can find Gin
At the Hillcrest TOPS You can find a wide selection of gins. Come and enjoy these and help keep this age-old European tradition alive!
We hope to see you in stores soon!