Has anyone ever told you that gin was juniper-flavored vodka? Or that there are 4 types of gin? The more you know! Vodka and gin are both made from grains like rye, barley, wheat, and corn. The difference is in what happens after the spirits are distilled.
Once distilled, gin is infused with juniper berries and other botanicals (usually dried herbs, roots, flowers, and citrus peels) before it is distilled for a second time, giving it its distinctive piney, herbaceous flavor. Vodka, on the other hand, gets distilled repeatedly until you can taste hints of the grain.
These 4 Types of Gin are Most Common Around the World:
1. London Dry
As you might suspect, London Dry gin was first formulated in England but is now made world-wide. It’s the most popular type of gin and likely the kind you have in your liquor cabinet right now. For example, if you make your gin and tonics with Beefeater, Tanqueray, or Bombay Sapphire, then you are drinking London Dry gin. The term dry refers to the fact that there is no added sugar, and each of the botanical flavors (including juniper) come from natural sources.
This style of gin is only produced by one distillery, and it happens to be the oldest distillery in the U.K. Plymouth gin was very well known in the first half of the 20th century when gins were the most desirable spirits on the market. If you’ve ever seen a bottle of Plymouth, you can tell that this gin has some history from the drawing of the sailed ship on the front. Believe it or not, Plymouth is even drier than London Dry. Its somewhat spicy aftertaste makes it perfect for making martinis and negronis, as the other ingredients’ bitter flavors complement this style of gin well.
3. Old Tom
Named after master distiller Thomas Chamberlain, this type of gin came about during a time when the distilling process was new and primitive. At that time, distillers were using turpentine and sulfuric acid to cut their spirits, which made some almost deadly. To make the gin more drinkable, distillers often sweetened it with licorice and sugar. As technology and the distilling processes improved, so did the gin. There was less of a reason to add so many sweeteners and the gin became significantly drier, much like the flavor of other gins we enjoy today.
Known as the original style of the 4 types of gin, Genever gin’s robust flavor is primarily due to the fact that its base grains are malted. The malt flavor outshines the juniper, allowing the taster to experience unique, earthy tones. As a result, it’s only slightly flavored with juniper compared to other gin types. If you care to try (which you should), why not drink it the traditional Dutch way? Stand at the bar with a glass filled to the brim with Genever, a bottle of beer and your hands behind your back. Bend down and sip the Genever until you absolutely need to pick up the glass and then chase it with a beer.