What the Heck Is It?
Gin was created by Dr. Franciscus Sylvus, a Dutch chemist, in the 16th century as an attempt to cleanse the blood of those suffering from kidney disorders. Sylvus named his creation genièvre, French for juniper. Mass production of gin in England soon followed as King William III used his grudge against France to ban expensive liquor imports from that country and made gin affordable for the masses.
Gin is a light-bodied, liquor made of a mash of cereal grain, usually corn, rye, barley and wheat that has few congeners. The main flavor and aroma notes are contributed by juniper berries. Other botanicals that are often used in gin include coriander, lemon and orange peels, fennel, cassia, anise, almond and angelica. Gin ranges between 80 and 94 proof and manufacturers cannot, by law, qualify their gin by age.
London Dry Gin:
London Dry is the benchmark of quality in the world of gin. The flowery and aromatic characteristics of this type of gin are a result of botanicals added during the 2nd or 3rd distillation. The vapors from these flavoring agents reach the alcohol as they pass through a specialized still with an attachment called a gin head. Dry gins are preferred for making Martinis.
Plymouth Gin is a clear, slightly fruity, full-bodied gin that is very aromatic. This style of gin originated in the port of Plymouth on the English Channel, but only one distillery, Plymouth, Coates & Co., has the right to produce Plymouth Gin now. A few cocktails like an Admiral Benbow and Douglas Fairbanks Cocktail specifically call for Plymouth Gin.
Old Tom Gin:
Old Tom Gin is a sweeter version of London Dry Gin. Simple syrup is used to distinguish this old style of gin from it's contemporaries. Old Tom was the original gin used for Tom Collins and the gin of choice in the 19th century. Eventhough it was unavailable in the United States as of the 1950's, Old Tom Gin is still sold in England.
Dutch or Genever Gin:
Genever Gin, or Schiedam, is the Dutch version of gin. This variety is distilled from malted grain mash similar to whiskey and tends to be lower proof (70-80 proof) than it's English counterparts. Genever Gin is often aged in oak casks for 1-3 years and comes in two styles. Oude (old) Genever is the original style with a straw hue and is relatively sweet and aromatic, while Jonge (young) Genever has a drier palate and lighter body. Enjoy Genever in cocktails like Sweet City.