Get to know the ins & outs of the nation's favourite spirit.
A great guy over in Holland created the wonderful world of gin, Franciscus Sylyius, he used gin for medicinal purposes back in 1550. Ever since, the bottle of spirit has grown phenomenally and over 60 million cases are sold every year and us Brits have made our mark on the history of gin. From the 1700’s, London evolved into a gin-obsessed city and is where the world-famous London Dry Gin originated from– it was so popular because it was cheap and much safer than London’s drinking water (pretty tasty too!). Pink gin was actually drunk as a cure for seasickness because naval officers believed that it soothed their nausea (few too many does the complete opposite to us…).
Gin has dominated the craft spirit craze and the market has seen an increase in local and regional craft gins in the past 2 years. Sales of artisan brands rose in supermarkets by 167%, this was down to the law changing in 2009 allowing small batch, artisan distilleries to open. Gin is a Great British tradition and part of the heritage of London, we want to celebrate it with flying colours and give it the recognition it deserves.
This popular spirit is made by distilling fermented grain and a range of botanicals– including juniper which is the primary botanical that has to maintain a minimum defined ABV. Gin is a neutral based spirit, just like our good old friend Vodka, it then has an array of botanicals added to create the final product – again one of these must be juniper.
As there is such a wide range of gin products out there we have decided to focus on a locally distilled London Dry Gin from Jensen’s just around the corner from us in Bermondsey. This gin features only the classic botanicals with a base spirit made of pure British wheat. The Bermondsey Distillery is located near the Thames River, where in the past the botanicals would have arrived from Holland and into the city to create the magic.
The base spirit and botanicals are placed in the still and heated to create a vapour that leads towards the top of the still. The vapour is cooled down to create the liquid we know and love, the strength of this has to be a minimum of 37.5% ABV to be classified as ‘gin’, Jenson’s is 43%, the alcohol content is much greater when distilling gin by this Column Distilled process.
A botanical is a substance that is abstracted from a plant and used in products for medicine, cosmetic and obviously, our favourite - Alcohol. The type and quantity of botanicals in each type of gin depends on the producer’s recipe and desired taste – they are all chosen and tested to create pure and delicious flavoured gin. Juniper is the botanical of which by law is the core ingredient, it originates from an ever-green plant that produces berries that are used in the gin. The flavour comes from the essential oils within the seeds of the berries, this gives the fragrant, pepper and earthy finish that gin has.
Other botanicals from seeds, berries, roots, fruits and herbs are used to flavour this wholesome spirit. Popular botanicals that are used are Coriander seeds – this gives the gin a fruity and sometimes spicy flavour, depending on the quality of the seed used. Licorice root is sometimes used to give the gin a viscous texture and anise taste.
The best way to get to know your favourite types of gins is to sip them at room temperature and have it diluted with an equal measure of water. Why? This helps unfold the flavours, the qualities and flaws of the spirit.
Our deconstructed Gin and Tonic experience is like nothing you would have ever tried before, enhance your senses by up to 70%. Firstly, take hold of your spoon filled with the core macerated botanicals in gin, in a form of white powder. Drop the alcohol onto the powder and let the magic begin, dissolving into a theatrical infusion for your cocktail. We then spritz an edible perfume of your choice: Cucumber, Rose and Orange Blossom – as the spoon full of goodness is eaten, your senses are enhanced, and the G&T is devoured.