The Gin Trend.
There has never been a better time to enjoy gin. Gone are the days when you had to mix it with tonic to make it palatable. Most premium gins today can be enjoyed simply with a cube of ice or even neat.
New Generation Gin
A trendy term bandied around, but basically refers to the newer smaller boutique gin distilleries that are producing the interesting gins we have today. See the gins for yourself
Like a good single malt whisky these gins spring from the passions of their producers and focus on careful choice of botanicals and quality grain spirit.
But what is gin? Here are the basics:
Gin is clear alcohol, alcohol redistilled with botanicals, a collection of herbs, spices, flora & berries, the most common of which is Juniper berries.
Gin gets its name from the Dutch Jenever and the French Genievre, their words for Juniper.
Types of Gin
Premium gin or London Gin, (although it doesn't have to be made in London), is usually made in a traditional copper pot still.High grade grain alcohol must be used and the botanicals are added to the still and steeped for 24 hours to release the essential oils before the gin is re-distilled with the botanicals. Nothing except water, a d a small amount of sweetener can be added after distillation.
Less premium gins rely on infusing the botanicals rather than distilling them.
The herbs, roots, seeds, exotic berries, spices and barks that are known as the botanicals in gin have their roots in the spice trade of the two great seafaring nations England & Holland. .
Virtually all gins incorporate the flavours of juniper, coriander & angelica, with added citrus such as orange or lemon peel. Classically a gin will contain a minimum of four botanicals and a maximum of twelve. In reality there are well over a hundred that can be added. The Botanist, distilled at the Bruichladdich whisky distillery is distilled with 31 botanicals of which 22 are native to the isle of Islay.
Common botanicals include: Juniper berries, Angelica root or seed, almond, Coriander, cardamom, cassia bark, cinnamon bark, ginger, licorice, citrus peel & orris root.
Gin can be traced back to 1492 in Holland where brandewijn” or “burnt wine” was being distilled from rye in large quantities. It was strong, fiery and not particularly pleasant and Juniper was added in an attempt to try to make it taste better. Jenever – a medicinal juniper distillate was born.
During the 30 years’ war (1618-1648), English mercenaries were given Jenever to calm then before battle – the term “Dutch Courage” was born. .
In 1688, William of Orange,declared war on France and banned the importation of French wine and brandy leading to a massive growth in legal home distilling, within 50 years production of spirits in London had leapt from 500,000 gallons a year to 20 million.
By the late 18th century, poverty and depression led to widespread alcoholism and the famous terms 'Mother's Ruin', and drunk for a penny.This 'gin madness' led to the Gin Acts of 1736 which imposed higher taxes and 1751 where distribution of gin was licensed to larger retailers and distillers.
Thankfully these days we can drink gin to appreciate the flavour.
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