THE GIN LOW-DOWN
Learn more about your favourite spirit...
It’s no secret that our Lizzie is partial to the odd G&T – if you follow her twitter account, it appears that ‘Gin O’Clock’ happens more often than the guards change down at the Queen’s gaff/Buckingham Palace. That makes the drink British, right? Well, similarly to many other things that branded quintessential to our Great Nation, it’s origins lie elsewhere. (Who’d have thought a good old brew actually derives from China?!)
Originally, Gin was created in the 17th century to be an ailment by a Dutch chemist, a Dr. Franciscus Sylvus to be precise (all hail!). It was thought to have been medically endorsed and believed to be capable of helping digestive ailments. Although, it’s purpose probably hasn’t strayed too far. Once used to cleanse the suffering from medical ailments, now Gin is used to cleanse those suffering from ‘the worst day everrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’ – I bet it’s not just us.
Anyway, back to the history lesson. British Troops fighting in Holland happened to stumble across the spirit and their noticeably less nervous attitude is thought to have coined the term ‘dutch courage’ – did we mention that our first date was a Gin crawl…? But Gin lovers, it is King William of Orange (which is a delightful garnish by the way!) that we have to thank for properly introducing us to Gin during the ‘Glorious Revolution’ – very apt, we know! A man after our own hearts, King Bill relaxed the laws surrounding English distillation, effectively creating an experimental free-for-all.
There's two important ones to remember...
Being one of the least regulated spirits, and it’s flavour spectrum having flourished during the recent ‘gin trend’, it is quite difficult to categorise Gin, and decide what sits where. However, for those who enjoy the taste not the science, it is easier to think of two categories: London Dry and Distilled.
When most people think of gin, it is normally a London Dry that will come to mind; it tends to be the ‘benchmark’ as such. The rule is that all ingredients must be natural, and no flavourings or colourings can be added after the distillation process.
The botanicals of a London Dry often have a prominent offering due to the fact that this type of gin cannot exceed 0.1g per litre of added sweetness by the time it is ready for sale, thus making it the preferred choice for cocktails. So if you’re normally a morning person and you can’t understand why your head is so sore after a couple of Gin Martini’s the night before, it’s likely to be because, at the bare minimum, a gin must be 37.5% ABV when finished to be part of the ‘London Dry’ club.
Whilst ‘distilled gin’ effectively uses the same page of the cookbook, there is one big difference between the two. This is the developed recipe; the one with the cream, chocolate sprinkles, and the cherry on top. These gins are mostly infused with an array of flavours other than juniper. Berries, spices, herbs, the possibilities are endless – we even been witness to a roast potato gin. We’re not kidding.
Although, a good example of this difference is Gordon’s. A green bottle of Gordons London Dry Gin is a staple behind any bar. It tastes like gin. A proper, quintessential, gin. A traditional gin, ‘mothers ruin’, as nan would say.
But 2017 saw that recognisable green bottle get a bit of a makeover. Gordon’s released a ‘Premium Pink’ Distilled gin, combining the original recipe with everyone’s favourite red berries – raspberries, strawberries, and red currants.
As the answer to gin lover’s rose-coloured dreams, many found it difficult to get their hands on a bottle. I coincidentally found a bottle in the back of my, clearly very hypocritical, grandmother’s pantry…