With its long history and entirely unfounded collection of haters, a number of gin myths have grown around the drink - we decided it’s high time to disprove some of them!
Sure, a lot of London Dry Gins are made in London (that has more to do with Britain’s longstanding love affair with gin than anything else) but London Dry Gins can be made absolutely anywhere in the world. The word “London” only comes into it because that’s the name of the place where the style was created.
What a gin must do to be legally classified as a London Dry is be at a minimum 37.5% ABV, it cannot have anything added post-distillation (aside from a very small amount of sugar) and it must taste predominantly of juniper. Voila! If these rules are followed, then the gin is London Dry Gin whether it’s made in Italy, America or Manchester.
Traditionally, gin’s most prominent flavour has been the dry pine of juniper. While a spirit must contain juniper to be called a gin, to say that gin only tastes of juniper is a crime! Citrus and spice, floral tones and honeyed caramel notes all abound in even the simplest of gins. Gins are as enticingly varied and delicious as sweets in a candy shop!
Loosening the control of juniper even further, many contemporary gins, particularly in Spain and America, have made a clear move away from a traditional, juniper heavy spirit with fruity and floral flavours coming forward strongly. These are often known as New Western-style Gins.
No doubt about it, alcohol is a depressant and with gin (obviously) being an alcoholic beverage it is a depressant. That said, there is nothing unique or specific to gin that intensifies this feeling.
If you’d swear blind that it does, that you know somebody who always gets a bit teary straight after a gin or two, well, that’s just somebody who has bought into the idea that it will make them cry and so, let themselves have a little weep. They’re not putting it on, just that, because they believe that gin will make them cry, it gives them the unconscious permission to do so.
Jenever: Dutch Courage, Dutch Gin, Geneva Gin, whatever it’s called, it’s just gin from Holland right? That’s why it’s called Dutch Gin. Not quite.
Jenever is a rich and smoky, distilled malt wine with its own unique methods, regulations, traditions and quirks. As far as spirits can be related, jenever and gin are - they are both juniper distilled spirits and jenever is seen as the precursor to gin. However, they are two, separate entities. The older drink of the two, jenever, is a spirit itself.
Generally jenever is kept in the freezer or fridge and served neat and cold in a tulip shaped glass. Most of our jenever is flavoured but Braeckman Oud Jenever Kiekendief is a great, classic example of this style of spirit.
Quinine, the ingredient that gives tonic water its delightfully bitter twist, is an anti-malarial prophylactic, but a modern G&T is not.
The humble Gin & Tonic's origins go back to British officers in India when they decided that the tonic water that they were drinking was too unpleasant without a touch (or glug) of gin. Now, they needed that tonic water because it was anti-malarial, it contained much larger quantities of cinchona bark extract than any contemporary tonic water. If we say that a modern tonic water contains approximately 85mg of quinine per litre and that the daily therapeutic dose of quinine is somewhere between 500 and 1000mg, that would mean that a whopping 12 litres (or thereabouts) of tonic water is what you’d need to drink for it to work effectively against malaria.
Although if you did want to try that (Do Not Try That!) you could make a start with some light and refreshing Franklin & Sons Natural Indian Tonic Water.
As much as we love our office, the Gin Festival team were extremely happy to visit The Lakes Gin Distillery recently for a look around and a taste of this fantastic spirit.
To celebrate our new stock of Sanction Gin, we spoke with its creator - Matthew from Gin Without Borders - to find out more about the story behind the drink.
We chat to Moritz from multicultural Kalevala about chemical engineering, their official Head of Happiness, and distilling in Finland.
Getting all Euromantic looking forward to a certain song contest? If you’re hosting a Euro party, enjoy our top 5 favourite continental gin cocktails.