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Introduction to Gin


Gin is usually a light-bodied, white (colorless) grain spirit generally produced from cereals such as barley, corn, rye or wheat (but can also include potato!). Its primary flavor is the strong aromatic blue-green berries from the low growing evergreen Juniper bush. Each Gin producer uses a secret combination recipe of herbs and spices which, besides juniper berries, can include things such as: almond, angelica (seed and root), anise, cassia bark, cinnamon, citrus peels (orange and /or lemon), coriander, fennel, licorice root and orris root. This mixture of herbs and spices are referred to as the “botanicals”.


Initially Gin is often distilled efficiently and thus is high in alcohol content (usually around 96% ABV) and purity with few flavors, very much like Vodka. The next stages determine the final flavor and quality:

At the lower end of quality this base spirit is steeped in the producer’s secret botanicals and sometimes redistilled (though not always). These Gins are also known as “Compound” Gins and those which are not redistilled are considered by some to be nothing more than flavored Vodka (albeit with juniper berries).

At the higher end of the quality scale the base spirit is redistilled one of more times. It is usually during the final redistilling the alcohol is impregnated with the vapors of the aromatic botanical mix (in a special chamber referred to as a “Gin Head”) to create a spirit with complex flavors.


Gin, by law, is not quantified by age. Thus you will not generally see bottles referring to how old the Gin is, or in what year it was produced. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, some Gins vary their production methods and even botanicals used and state the year made on their packaging (e.g. Citadelle Reserve).

Gin Categories

There are a number of different categories of Gin which can be used to define their taste and style. These are: Barrel Aged Gin, Borovicka, Compound Gin, Distilled Dry Gin, Flavored Gin, Genever Gin, London (Cut) Dry Gin, Mahon Gin (Gin de Menorca), Navy Strength Gin, New Western Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin and Plymouth Gin.

Video Overview


"Gang of Gin" by Babyshambles:

Music to listen to while you decide what Gin to try or what to read next about Gin!

Further Reading

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