What is Gin?

A clear alcoholic spirit distilled from grain or malt (in the case of Genever) and always flavoured with juniper berries, to be allowed to use the name ‘Gin’. Gin is defined by its flavour – it must be “predominantly” juniper, but after that you can choose from a huge array of dry and fresh ingredients. The most common are – coriander, orris root, angelica root, cassia bark, cinnamon and dried citrus. Fresh herbs and flowers can also be added, as well as fruit or flavour concentrate.

There are 2 main techniques for the production of Gin are on the market.  The main and most widely recognised method is the ‘London Dry’ method. Where all ingredients must be distilled at the same time, typically in pot stills for more premium gins. All dry ingredients are often cold macerated in neutral spirit before being distilled. Fresh ingredients can be added by using a steaming basket to extract the essential aromas and flavours. 

Alcohol percentage is also a key factor in Gin production. The minimum legal alcohol limit for gin is 37.5% Alcohol by volume or abv). Nowadays most premium gins are at least 40% abv and this can go up to above 50$ abv. The higher the abv the stronger the taste and sensation of alcohol in the mouth. I personally feel that the ‘sweet spot’ for alcohol in gin is around 43%/ This for me gives a perfectly balanced gin.

Another style which has become very popular in recent years is what is known as a ‘Compound’ gin method. This is where flavouring can be added after the main distillation. This is used especially in the production of fruit-based gins, where the fresh fruits may only be in season for a short time. Therefore a concentrate is made and added after distillation to allow a consistent production all year round. 

The Perfect G&T 

The perfect G&T is very subjective of course, but there are a few simple tips to help bring out the best in your Gin.

First you need to look at what style of gin you are using. Is it a spicy or herbaceous gin? Or a classic dry gin with lots of juniper and citrus? Or is it a softer, sweeter style gin with less juniper and maybe some fruit flavourings? This will have a bearing on your choice of mixer and garnish.

A dry classic London Dry Gin such as Haymans Dry Gin (England) is bursting with juniper and citrus, so it needs very little additional flavouring. A simple lemon peel twist and a good tonic such as Franklin & Sons Indian tonic water. A true classic.

A lighter style gin such as Gin Mare Mediterranean Gin (Spain) is very well balanced with less juniper and lots more orange citrus notes and subtle herbs. This means that it works very well with lots of flavour additions, and makes a fantastic Gin Martini !  Gin Mare is best served with a dash of Fee Bros Orange Bitters, orange peel, sprig of rosemary and topped up with the delicious 1724 Premium tonic water.

If you prefer a sweeter or fruit-based gin such as Mor Wild Berry Gin (Ireland) then you just need to accentuate the fruit characters in the gin. So simply serve with a few fresh red berries (I like the combination of strawberry & basil leaf or raspberry & lime wedge) and top up with maybe a light tonic. The sweeter the gin the less sweet the tonic needs to be, so try lo-cal or light tonic. Or even soda water?

Other mixers can be used such as ginger ale, ginger beer or soda water.

At MCM Brands, we are very proud to represent some of the leading producers in the world of gin, from local Irish ‘small batch’ gins to global brands like Gin Mare, Aviation, Haymans.of London, Silent Pool and many more.