Gin - The Miracle of the Juniper Bush
Gin was a subject for scholars as well as sensualists. Thousands of years ago, medical research was conducted into the connection between alcohol and juniper berries. The mixture was good against heartburn, rheumatism, gout and digestive problems. The patients were happy. It soon became clear that the alleged patients were more of a fake. Gin became a stimulant. Today as then, gin offered an immense variety of types and ingredients that make every single gin creation a unique piece. 3 production methods, about 12 types of gin, 120 botanicals, calculate the possibilities - or try the wealth of gin enjoyment on VINELLO.
The main focus of gin is on the juniper berry, a cypress plant that gives the distinctive note to the agricultural alcohol, which is obtained from grain and rarely from molasses. A gin must have an alcohol content of at least 37.5% vol., whereby an unwritten rule states that more alcohol produces a rounder gin. What follows is the individual composition of about 120 ingredients, also called botanicals. These include exotic herbal ingredients, precious herbs and intense spices, such as nutmeg, gentian, iris, ginger, rose, lemon, orange peels and much more. Depending on the distillation process, the alcohol takes over the aromas and active components of the ingredients and becomes gin. But not all gin is the same. A grade classification determines which description the mixture may bear on the label. Among them are:
- Dry gin
- London Dry Gin
- Sloe gin
- Plymouth Gin
- Original Genever
- Distilled gin
- Gin de Mahón
- New Western Dry Gin
- Vilnius gin
- Old Tom Gin
- Reserve Gin
Gin has acquired the English touch over the centuries, but the story begins in a different place
Gin's great story
Alchemists, witches and monks have been experimenting with alcohol and juniper since ancient times because of their medical properties. But it really started in the 17th century, when a juniper brandy called Genever made the sick happy in the Netherlands. The medicine was so popular that from then on it was sold right of the shelf. Apparently promoted to a national drink, the Dutch soldiers always had a bottle with them when they went into battle. The allied English Redcoats enjoyed the tasty gin when they fought together against the Spanish. With a few bottles in their luggage, the English men travelled home and introduced the genever, also known as "Juniperus" or simply gin, to their fellow men.
Gin became an insider tip in the British Isles. Then William III of Orange-Nassau ascended the English throne. He always had a nose for getting his subjects on his side. In short, he brought gin from the Netherlands, made it tax-free and imposed high taxes on French products. Everyone was allowed to open their own distillery in their house and officially sell gin after 10 days. Thus began the gin-craze, which had devastating consequences for the poorer population.
Gin was cheap and was not subject to any qualitative standards. It didn't matter what's in the gin either. As long as it contains alcohol. Crime increased, as did infant mortality. Everyone was drunk and the rest was wasted. The overall mortality rate even exceeded the birth rate, with newborns born with gin addiction. The macabre name Mother's Ruin was established. It was dark times, the government realized that too. The Gin Act of 1751 put a stop to the spree. The licenses to burn gin became extremely expensive, the quality standard as well as the price was considerably increased. Gin became the drink of the upper layer.
Due to the worldwide spread of the British Empire, the gin spread equally. The Redcoats in India fought especially against mosquitoes and malaria. To protect themselves against it, they had to take quinine, found in Tonic Water. To make the very bitter taste a little more bearable, the soldiers mixed the Tonic Water with gin - with resounding success, which continues to this day. Less for malaria, but who knows for sure?
During prohibition in the United States the term Bathtub-Gin emerged, which even today stands for inferior gin. The spirit drink is quite easy to produce and the only big usable container was usually the bathtub. Less attention was paid to quality, but alcohol. It's best not to order bathtub gin - better a mother's ruin.
The subdivision of the different gin varieties refers to the origin, production and list of ingredients. Each distillery is dedicated to one or more styles. A small overview of the most popular varieties helps you to find your way around the variety.
The original of Dutch origin. Also known as jenever, from the Dutch jeneverbes for juniper, is commonly regarded as the precursor of gin. The alcohol is obtained from barley or rye and refined with the botanicals caraway, roasted flavours and coriander. A soft representative of this guild is the Old Style Genever from De Borgen, which seduces the palate with intense notes of grain and juniper.
London Dry Gin
This is not necessarily gin from London, but rather a style. No artificial flavours are added to dry gin and the sugar content is also limited to 0.1 g per litre. Well-known representatives of this variety are the Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray Dry Gin from the C. Tanqueray & Co distillery and the elephant London Dry Gin.
The variety has a distinctive juniper aroma and, unlike London Dry Gin, must not be enriched with vegetable substances. However, it is possible to give the gin a unique colour with dyes. Ideal for cocktails or your own house bar. Examples of Dry Gin are the Gin Mare Mediterranean Gin and the Friedrichs Dry Gin.
Sloe gin stands on its own. It is not a real gin, rather a liqueur with less alcohol, but is still classified as gin. The dark red colouring results from the blackthorn. It is much sweeter and fruity than dry gin. Elephant Sloe Gin is highly recommended for this variety.
Plymouth, Vilnius and Gin de Mahón
These gins become what they are because of their geographical location. They may only be produced in this place and usually have unique compositions of botanicals. Plymouth Gin from the Black Friars Distillery, for example, is only produced in the English port city and its juniper aroma is much less pronounced.
Gin is a clear spirit, dominated mainly by juniper and coriander. Originally from the Netherlands, gin has developed into a typical English drink. Gin is often used to create cocktails and long drinks.
How is Gin made?
There are 3 common ways to make gin.
- Maceration: The botanicals are added to the alcohol until the taste is released. Consequently, the mixture is filtered and diluted.
- Digestion: During hot extraction, the crushed botanicals are added to the alcohol. The mixture is cooked at about 70°C, so that the variety of flavours can fully unfold.
- Percolation: Probably the noblest and most complex production method. The alcohol is made gaseous and escapes through some sieves, which are filled with the desired ingredients, into the next kettle. Finally the gas becomes liquid again and the gin is ready.
What goes with gin?
Gin is the main ingredient of many cocktails. The most famous is probably Gin-Tonic. The possibilities of using gin in mixed drinks are almost endless. Just try it out and enjoy.
How do you store gin?
Gin should be stored cool, dark and upright. A cellar is ideal for protected and durable storage. Even open bottles last, if closed, several months or even years. Depending on how much gin is left in the bottle. Because the more oxygen, the faster the gin oxidizes.
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