Gin – From Past To Present
Dr. Franciscus Sylvus was a 16th century Dutch chemist. He created gin in an effort to cleanse the blood of people who had kidney disorders. It was originally called genièvre, which means juniper in French. Due to the grudge that King William III had against France, he ordered his subjects to mass produce gin. This was done to prevent expensive liquor imports from France and since it was readily available, making gin affordable for the masses as well.
Gin is usually made from a mash of cereal grain. Barley, corn, rye and wheat are the most common as they contain few congeners. This is a light-bodied type of liquor. Gin’s main flavor and aroma comes from juniper berries, hence the original name. Please note that gin may contain other botanicals for added flavor. This may include cassia, lemon peel, anise, fennel, almond, orange peel and angelica too.
Gin usually ranges from 80 to 94 proof. By law, manufacturers may not qualify their gin by age.
London Dry Gin:
London Dry is the benchmark when it comes to gin quality. The botanicals that are added during the 2nd or the 3rd distillation give this gin its aromatic and flowery characteristics. The vapors of the flavoring agents intermingle with the alcohol while it passes through a specialized still that has an attachment which is called the gin head. The dry gin is usually preferred over other varieties when it comes to making Martinis.
Plymouth Gin is slightly fruity, clear, aromatic and full-bodied. Cocktails like Douglas Fairbanks and Admiral Benbow specifically call for this particular gin. It originated in the Port of Plymouth found on the English Channel. However,at present there is only one distillery that has the right to produce this type of gin, Plymouth, Coates & Co.
Old Tom Gin:
Old Tom Gin is quite similar to London dry gin. However, it is sweeter, as simple syrup is used and at times, notes of citrus may be detected. This was the gin of choice in the 19th century and is used to make Tim Collins. This gin was once unavailable in the United States. However at present, there are a few U.S. distilleries that produce this type of gin.
Otherwise known as Schidam gin, Genever is the Dutch and Belgian version of this liquor. In fact, it was the inspiration for all other gins. Genever was distilled in the Middle Ages to cure ailments and was the original gin used to make many classic American cocktails in the 19th century.
This type of gin is lower proof at 70 to 80. It is distilled from malted grain mash, like whiskey. Genever is usually aged for 1 to 3 years in oak casks. It comes in two varieties. The first is the Oude or old Genever that is sweet, aromatic and has a straw hue. Jonge or young Genever is drier and lighter.
New American Gin:
This name has been used in the early 2000’s to describe new gins created in this period. These may include types of gin that do not rely on juniper and use other flavors. The name was used by the bartending community to distinguish them from the traditional ones.
G’Vine (grape), Hendrick’s (cucumber), Aviation, Dry Flu and Small’s are popular examples of this type of gin. These gins are perfect for modern cocktails and are appealing to consumers who do not like heavy pine taste in their gins.