What is Gin?: FLD Spirited Education Series

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Gin is a fantastically diverse spirit, in terms of flavor and cocktail use. The distiller’s choice of botanicals, methods, and styles has left the consumer with many choices to make their Martini or build their G&T. Gins can range from full bodied to light, and from savory to sweet. As a supplement to our Spirited Education Series Episode 1, here’s another taste of Gin facts!

As mentioned in the video, London Dry Gin is a style of gin that can be made in a number of ways, but there are a few rules for the distiller to follow. In order to be a “London Dry Gin” or “London Gin” the European Parliament states that the Gin must be made from 100% agricultural products, meaning no extracts, and distilled to no less than 140 proof (70%ABV). London Gin is the most popular form of Gin. Like the name states, this style is dry or less sweet than other styles and most often includes citrus notes, although it isn’t a requirement. London Dry Gin, despite its name, also doesn’t require a geographical origin.

The only style of Gin that does have a geographical indication is Plymouth Gin. This indication is held by the only distillery in the town of Plymouth, England with their brand Plymouth Gin. So there….Plymouth Gin is a Plymouth Gin.

Also mentioned was the use of extracts in Gin production, or specifically Compound Gin production. A Compound Gin is created when a number of alcohol-based extracts of botanicals are blended together. Another way of making Compound Gin is to soak botanicals in neutral flavored spirit and simply strain out the solids. This type of Gin is very cheap to make and therefore has a reputation of being substandard to Distilled Gins. There are a few craft distilleries combating that reputation, though.

You’ll also notice the poorly drawn still in our diagram of the percolation method is a traditional or pot still. This was an over-simplified version of a Gin Basket (shown below, also poorly drawn).

 

Generally, a Gin Basket will be a separate compartment of the still; most commonly placed above and beside the still, or inside the neck of the still. The alcohol vapor from the neutral spirit travels up and out of the still, and then through the Gin basket, picking up the flavor of the botanicals inside. This will result in a lighter style of Gin, whereas the infusion method yields a Gin that would be bolder, or more robust in flavor.

As the spring and warm weather approaches, Finger Lakes Distilling hopes you find more Gin in your glass, sun in your skies, and good company around you!

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