Gin is an exceedingly popular drink throughout the world. If liquor is to be classified as gin with an ”Appellation of Origin” it must be flavoured with juniper fruit. The European Union legally differentiates gin into four categories. These categories include ”Juniper-flavoured spirit drinks”, ”Gin, ”Distilled gin”, and ”London gin”. Do you know the differences between these categories? Below we will explain in more detail.
According to the Appellation of Origin of gin, we can break the types down as seen below.
Juniper-Flavoured Spirit Drinks
This type of gin has seen the biggest growth in recent years. The drink itself resembles a juniper-flavoured brandy. However, it is still classified as a gin. This classification covers 19 classifications of gins from different countries. The gin goes through a process during which the distillers flavour the drink with berries from common juniper or red juniper. The gin must be made with alcohol of agricultural origin and/or a cereal distillate to be recognised in this category of gins. It is also characteristically made with the juniper berries from “Juniperus communis L.” and/or “Juniperus oxicedrus L.”. In the other classifications, you can only use the variety “Juniperus communis L.” in the elaboration.
The distillers produce this type of gin with neutral ethyl alcohol of agricultural origins. You can only use the juniper variety Juniperus communis L. in the elaboration. The process gives the drink a distinctive aroma and a special bouquet, which differentiates it from the other appellations of origin.
You make distilled gin from ethanol with an original alcohol content of at least 96%. Unlike ”Gin” the producers make distilled gin with eau de vie which they redistill with juniper berries and/or other natural botanicals. However, the juniper flavour must be predominant. You can add flavourings in this second distillation, which may noticeably change the tasting notes. This results in some of the popular flavoured gins.
This classification closely resembles the ”distilled gin” category. However, there is one important difference: you cannot mix the gin with any type of sweetener or colourant. Basically, London Gin is gin in its purest and driest form. It also has the most defined juniper flavour. Producers usually name their gins with “Dry” appearing before the name.
In addition to the classic gin styles, there are other types of very particular gins that represent quite different styles. We highlight some of these below.
Old Tom Gin
One of the characteristics of this classic style of gin is that distillers make it the old-fashioned way. They sweeten the gin and there are more vegetal notes in the flavouring. Old Tom Gin gets its name from the pubs that sold gin illegally during the time of its ban in London. The name harks back to the signs of the Old Tom cat which used to hang outside these pubs. Today, there are distilleries who have relaunched the production of Old Tom Gin, and Hayman’s Old Tom which is based on an original recipe stands out.
The base of a Sloe gin is an Old Tom gin or a classic gin. The distiller then sweetens and flavours the liqour with sloes through maceration. Sloe gin originated in Britain and Sloe gin refers to the use of the sloe fruits. These slightly acidic and bitter fruits are what give the characteristic flavour to the gin. After the maceration, the sloes are removed, and the drink is filtered and then bottled. The alcohol content will be around 25-30%. If you are interested in trying a Sloe gin some of the available products on the market are Plymouth Sloe Gin or Hayman’s Sloe Gin.
The classic gins do not require any period of ageing. But in recent years we have seen gins appear that are made in the traditional way; however, they differentiate themselves on one important aspect. The gins have been refined with a brief ageing period in barrels, similar to the tequila reposado. The goal of the ageing is to develop new aromatic nuances. The result is an aged gin. They are not intended to be mixed and should ideally be enjoyed on their own. The first aged gin that appeared on the Spanish market was Citadelle Reserva. In 2013 the Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve was launched. This gin is aged in oak barrels.
Jenever or Genever
This name doesn’t exactly describe a type of gin. Though it is an original ancestor variety of the gin we know and love today. You can read more about this in The History of Gin and its Origins. This is a Dutch gin which is made from alcohol distilled from cereals and flavoured with juniper. The distillation process to make genever does not seek to produce a neutral liquor as is done with gin. On the contrary, the process tries to maintain part of the flavour of the cereals, just as it is done when making whisky. There are several families of genevers (Jonge (young), Oude (old) and genevers with fruits).