Gin is a spirit flavoured with juniper berries. Distilled gin is made by redistilling
white grain spirit which has been flavoured with juniper berries. Compound gin is
made by flavouring neutral grain spirit with juniper berries without redistilling
and can be considered a flavoured vodka.
The most common style of gin, typically used for mixed drinks, is London drygin.
London dry gin is made by taking a neutral grain spirit (usually produced in a column
still) and redistilling after the botanicals are added. In addition to juniper, it
is usually made with a small amount of citrus botanicals like lemon and bitter orange
peel. Other botanicals that may be used include anise, angelica root and seed, orris
root, licorice root, cinnamon, coriander, and cassia bark.
Distilled gin evolved from the Dutch spirits jonge- and oude-Jenever or Genever
(young and old Dutch gin), Plymouth gin, and Old Tom gin.
Plymouth Gin is a style of gin that by law can only be legally produced in Plymouth,
England. The Plymouth Gin Distillery (the Black Friars Distillery) is the only gin
distillery located in Plymouth in what was once a Dominican Order monastery built
in 1431 and opens on to what is now Southside Street. It has been in operation since
Plymouth Original Strength is 41.2% alcohol by volume. It has a distinctively different,
slightly less-dry flavour than the much more commonly available London Dry Gin, as
it contains a higher than usual proportion of root ingredients, which bring a more
'earthy' feel to the gin, as well as a smoother juniper hit. There is also a 'navy
strength' variety available which is 57% alcohol by volume, being the traditional
strength demanded by the British Royal Navy.
Old Tom Gin is a lightly sweetened gin popular in 18th century England that now is
rarely available. It is slightly sweeter than London Dry, but slightly drier than
Dutch/Holland Gin/Jenever, and is thus sometimes called 'The Missing Link'.
Compound gin is gin where the juniper flavouring is added to the neutral spirit and
there is no redistillation. Sloe gin is a common ready-sweetened form of gin that
is traditionally made by infusing sloes (the fruit of the blackthorn) in gin. Similar
infusions are possible with other fruits, such as damsons.
A well-made gin will be relatively dry compared to other spirits. Gin is often mixed
in cocktails with sweeter ingredients like tonic water or vermouth to balance this