Gin originated in Southern France and the Netherlands as a medicinal liquor made by monks. In the Netherlands, this spirit was named Jenever (derived from Juniperus, the Latin for Juniper) which was soon shortened to Gin once it hit England after William of Orange’ ‘Glorious Revolution’ in 1688.
Nowadays, Gin is a distilled drink who’s predominant flavouring comes from Juniper Berries, with other herbs, botanicals and spices are used to compliment the final product. Though the English and Dutch are best-known for making gin, it can be produced anywhere. =Gin has a herbal ‘pine’ flavour usually backed up with spice and citrus notes.
Any Gin starts its life a neutral spirit, usually grain based to which flavourings are added through re-distillation. There are many ways to distill Gin with the most common being ‘Steep & Boil’, which is to add the Juniper and botanicals to a reduced strength spirit, when the distiller is happy with the maceration it is distilled in a Pot Still.
Other forms of distillation include vapour infusion where botanicals are placed in baskets in the still but do not come in contact with the spirit, most other forms are variants of Steep and Boil, i.e. Individual botanicals are distilled and then blended.
Not only are there many ways to distill Gin, but there are also many types.
London Dry is probably the most recognizable and as the name suggests was first made in England. They are generally dry, heavily juniper flavored, light bodied and aromatic.
Plymouth Gin is a niche gin infused with more roots for an overall earthier, less dry taste than London Dry Gin. It must be made in Plymouth, England and today, there is just one lone, historic distillery that still produces it. Plymouth Gin also retains its Navy Strength grade alcohol.
Genever has the unique trait is that its base is made from malt grains. This malting process gives Genever a darker color and develops a robust, malty flavour, quite different in taste to the other types of gins and comparable to a light-bodied, botanical whiskey.
A key point of difference with genever compared to dry types is that it does not primarily taste of juniper. Perhaps for this very reason, genever is seeing a revival of late, especially by master gin mixologists who use it creatively in cocktails.
Old Tom Gin was given to a sweetened bathtub gin in the 18th Century which is believed to be a cross between London Dry Gin and Genever and gains its name as it is the preferred Gin in a Tom Collins Cocktail.
Sloe Gin uses sloe berries, along with sugar, and is considered to be more of a fruit-based drink or liqueur than a true gin because of its high sugar content, it is also not restrained by any production or geographical rules.