Gin is back, baby!
Gin was all the rage back in the 18th century, where the consumption of gin rapidly increased in Great Britain, especially in London. While things got quiet for a bit around there regarding this distilled spirit, it made a famous comeback in 2013—and the gin frenzy has only grown. Whether it’s flavoured vodka or not is up for debate—we aren’t getting into it, but what we do know is that the Ginessance has taken over.
HOW IT STARTED
Let’s go back way back to the 13th century, where there were references to a spirit made with flavours of ‘genever’ infused in them (juniper as we call it now). Gin, like most innovations back then, was produced as herbal medicine. By the 18th century, it made its way to England and the rest is history.
Gin is a liquor that has about 40% or more alcohol per volume (APV) that we get by distilling grains, and are flavoured primarily with juniper berries or their extract. Now, the flavour profile of gin has exploded with inclusions of other botanicals (fancy word for dried herbs, roots, and citrus peels) as well as fruits in their production.
While the craze of gin in India is only growing by the minute, we got in touch with Vidit Mantri, Project Manager at Tulleeho—a provider of beverage education, training and consulting services in India to help us out in understanding gin better. We quizzed him about what the Indian gin market looks like now, and he said, “Honestly, it has been a collective effort from all the local brands to bring gin into the spotlight. Gin has been trending for the last few years because of their creativity and innovation—not only with experimenting with new botanicals—but also with packaging, redefining exactly what an ‘Indian gin’ could be.”
WHAT MAKES A GIN STANDOUT
So, what makes a great gin? “Starting off as a neutral spirit, a good gin relies on aromatics and flavours that are infused before, during or after distillation,” he explains. “Its predominant flavour and aroma come from the botanical, juniper berries. Other botanicals that are traditionally used to round out the flavour profile include—but are not limited to—cassia, coriander, orange and lemon peels, cinnamon, orris root, almond and angelica. Nowadays, many producers are experimenting with new and innovative botanical combinations.”
DRINK MORE (RESPONSIBLY, OF COURSE) TO KNOW MORE!
Say we do pick up a bottle of gin, how would we know we picked the right one? It’s hard with the options around us. According to Mantri, educating yourself on the different types of gin is a great place to start. “Familiarise yourself with terms that you might find on a bottle that gives you a hint of what to expect from the liquid inside the bottle,” he adds. “Reading the label tells you a lot about the gin and where it is made, APV or the botanicals used. The best way to find out what you like is to keep trying new ones.”
WE ARE OVER GENDER STEREOTYPING ALCOHOL
Long gone are the days that whiskey was for men like Gin and Tonic (G&T) for women. People around the world have accepted the fact that alcohol is for everybody. Who better person to clarify this than somebody who has worked closely in the beverage industry? Mantri reveals that gin has definitely shed the label of being ‘A girl’s drink’. “I have grown to like and enjoy gin in the last few years. For me, reading about it, the history, experimentation with botanicals and the diverse flavours is what did it. Drinks will always have their tags, but in the Indian market, as of today, I’m sure the stereotype is fading away. Some bars and restaurants have a dedicated menu just for gin, so that tells you that we’ve come a long way.”
TYPES OF GINS
Every type of alcohol around the world can be differentiated into categories, and gin is no different. Every time the distillation process evolved, so did the gin.
▶ Genever Gin
This is the original style of gin, made in Holland in the 17th century. The base flavour for this type of gin are grains that are malted. They let the grain germinate and then halt the process almost like you would do while making whiskey, giving it a very robust taste. As the story goes, back then they tried making liquor with malted grains that turned out to be a batch of dissatisfactory malt wine to which they added juniper to and voila, we have what we now call gin or Genever! Genever has lesser hints of juniper than the rest of the gins we know of now. It’s a very rich gin, making it best to be used with sweet vermouth or stirred with a tiny bit of bitters and a touch of sugar like a gin Old Fashioned.
▶ London Dry
A gin that was originally made in England, but is now produced all over the world. The London Dry gin is what you might be drinking when you call for your next Gin and Tonic. The most used gins than any other in the world are the London Dry. Predominantly heavy on the juniper flavour, hints of citrus are also often used in the distillation process. It’s called a dry gin because there are no added flavourings other than the botanicals used, and no sweeteners. Any famous gins we drink like Bombay Sapphire or Beefeater, even Indian gin brands like Greater Than or Stranger & Sons’ are London Dry gins. Shows how iconic this style of gin really is.
▶ Old Tom
Old Tom is the street name that was given to this type of gin. Remember the gin craze we spoke about, where everybody got drunk, maybe Old Tom was the reason. Gin making actually had a downfall with hordes of people trying to make them on their own and making a mess of it literally. Those who did manage to make it through with the right distillation process gave us gin whose flavour profile fits right in the middle of Genever and the London Dry. Old Tom has a sweeter note to it than the rest because of the larger amount of liquorice that’s used in the distillation as a botanical. It’s richer in flavour than the London Dry as is best used for cocktails.
▶ American Gin
This had to have a category of its own because not many gins are made in America. One of the few characteristics to look out for in an American Gin is the weaker notes of juniper in it and the stronger after notes of the other flavourings. Aviation Gin is one of the most sought out American gins in the market as of now. Backed by actor Ryan Reynolds and now bought over by Diageo it has made quite the buzz. While we researched American Gins, we realised that these are one of the kinds of gins best had neat.
▶ Indian Dry Gin
Indian Dry gin is the modern version of a London Dry gin. Other than a lot of Indian homegrown brands that produce London Dry gins there are a few that have upped their game by making their own version of the same and calling it the Indian Dry gin. With a lot more flavours infused in it, this gin is best served as a martini.
Gin has made its way to every home bar to dedicated menus. It sure has come a long way. Everyone has a different way of enjoying their glass of gin. “Gin could be enjoyed just by itself or with a couple of ice cubes if you don’t want a tall drink or a cocktail. If you’re spending a Sunday summer afternoon outside, a tall glass with 60ml gin filled with ice and topped with tonic and a citrus garnish could be very refreshing.” We couldn’t agree more!
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