What actually is gin?

What actually is: gin?

Gin is one of the basic spirits in every bar and is often ordered and drunk in cocktails or as a long drink. But what actually is gin, where does it come from and how is the juniper schnapps made? 
These are questions we want to get to the bottom of this week.

Gin, or rather genever, has been produced in the Netherlands since around 1550 and was first intended for pharmaceutical purposes. Like many other alcoholic medicines, genever soon found its way into the glasses of bar guests.

The Genever finally made its way to England via the military, where people soon began to produce the juniper distillate themselves. Because the word Genever was very difficult for English people to pronounce, the name was shortened and simplified to Gin. To this day, a distinction is made between genever from the Netherlands and gin. Gin made its breakthrough in England during the Thirty Years' War, when the troops were supplied with gin to keep them motivated and morale up. The returnees did not want to do without the gin at the bar counters either, so it was made available to the general public.

However, the gin that was available in the 16th century and beyond has little in common with the spirit we know today. The quality could only be significantly improved with the invention of patent still distillation, which meant that gin also became popular in higher social classes.

Gin as we know it today has only been produced since the beginning of the 20th century.

In addition to gin & Tonic is very popular especially the martini cocktail.

What is gin made from? As a rule, this spirit consists of agricultural alcohol produced in a continuous process, which is flavored with juniper, various herbs and spices, citrus peel, fruit or other vegetable extracts. 
The fact that all regional and international ingredients can be used in different combinations means that there is a large selection of different gins today. The distillates can also be processed into wonderful cocktails with other spirits or ingredients. This makes the gin an "all-round spirit", which is valued and used in the bars due to its versatility. 

Three distillation processes can be used to produce the gin, which determine whether a gin, a distilled gin or a London Dry Gin is produced. 

In addition to the distillation processes, there are different categories of gin:


A distillate, which can be called gin, is made from agricultural alcohol, which is only mixed with essences. 

Distilled Gin: 

Here the agricultural alcohol is distilled again with the extracts of the plants in a continuous or pot still process.

London Dry Gin:

London Dry Gin (such as Geranium Gin from Hammer & Sons) may not contain more than 0.1g of sugar per liter of the finished product, which is why it is also called unsweetened gin. Any gin with this manufacturing process may call itself London Dry Gin, as this is not a protected designation of origin.

After distillation, the gin is cleaned with micro-filters to remove suspended matter from the ingredients. After that, the fresh distillate is placed in steel tanks, stone or glass containers for storage. How long and where the gin is stored is up to the master distiller.

Before the stored juniper distillate can be bottled, the alcohol content must be reduced with demineralized water in order to maintain drinking quality. The products are adjusted to 37.5% by volume - 63% by volume.

Plymouth Gin:

This designation is a protected designation of origin and can therefore only be used for gin that comes from Plymouth. Plymouth Gin is popular because of its aromatic taste and full body.

Navy Strength Gin:

In the 17th century, gin was very popular with the English Navy. It gave courage to the fighters and was part of the usual daily ration. The reason why Navy Strength Gin is 57% vol. Alc has is simply because the gunpowder used by the Navy will ignite even when doused with 57% gin. Curious explanation, but probably of crucial importance in the 17th century! Today only a few manufacturers produce a Navy Strength Gin like Tarquin's Gin! For us, this is the gin of choice for a dry martini! 

Old Tom Gin:

An original form of gin that was almost forgotten and has only experienced an upswing in the last few years. As described in the history of gin, the first juniper distillates were of inferior quality, which is why sugar was added to slightly improve the taste. Old Tom Gin is therefore a gin to which sugar is added. 

New Western Dry Gin:

This is a relatively new category of gin designation that was created to designate those distillates that no longer have juniper as their primary aroma.

Reserved Gin:

This category includes gins that have been stored in wooden barrels, giving them their typical color and aromas. Old brandy casks, for example, are popular. 

Compound Gin:

Probably the least known category is Gin, the production of which is based on the fact that a wide variety of botanicals are each individually prepared in neutral alcohol and then mixed as desired. Due to the suspended matter contained in the end product, this gin can change its color and taste while it is still in the bottle.

Sloe Gin:

This is also a prepared gin, here sloes are used, which is where the name comes from: Sloe Gin.

Both Compound Gin and Sloe Gin (e.g. Monkey Sloe Gin) are popular varieties that can be made in your own kitchen. 

There are now countless variations of the juniper distillate on the market and it can be prepared with a wide variety of tonics. It is precisely this variety that makes it possible for almost everyone to find their favorite gin or to be able to draw on the full variety of occasions and cocktail creations.

Gin is one of the basic spirits of every bar and is often ordered and drunk in cocktails or as a long drink. But what actually is gin, where does it come from and how is juniper schnapps made?

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