Posted on July 16, 2015
Gin is the most commonly used spirit in cocktails, yet it is so diverse. However, maybe the diverse range of gins is what lets it have something for everyone. Gin has a strong reputation for being British, but it was actually first created in Holland and, as the story goes, the British soldiers noticed that gin had a warming, calming effect on Dutch soldiers during the Thirty Years’ War.
What is gin, really? It’s actually a juniper-flavored vodka. Most quality gins are distilled gins - created from vodka redistilled in the presence of botanicals, most notably juniper. Its flavor and production designates the gin’s style, and below is a crash course in the six most common gin styles.
London Dry gin includes some of the most popular brands like Beefeater, Tanqueray, and Bombay Sapphire. It is a drier style of gin with a juniper taste and hints of citrus. London Dry gin makes a fantastic martini.
Plymouth gin is similar to London Dry, but it is sweeter and earthier. Like Champagne, Plymouth must be produced in a specific region (Plymouth, England) in order to carry that name. Plymouth gin is a classic choice for a gin and tonic.
If you like London Dry and are looking for a stronger spirit, Navy Strength gin is for you. Navy Strength has 57 percent alcohol and gets its name from the British navy, which used to light gunpowder on fire using this gin. Navy Strength gin is popularly used in the negroni.
Juniper flavor is an old school classic, so the New Wave departs from this profile and has a stronger emphasis on floral botanicals, citrus, cucumber, and other aromatics. The New Wave is delicious as a gimlet.
Genever has a thick, viscous mouthfeel with malt and savory botanical flavors. Genever is like the grandfather of modern gins and has a strong Juniper flavor. Genever is also made with at least 15 percent malt, which creates a dynamic mouthfeel. Genever can even be used to substitute whiskey in classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned.
Old Tom style gin has less of a juniper flavor and more of a sweet malt profile. Old Tom can be placed on the scale between London Dry and Genever. Old Tom is a popular favorite in cocktails like the Tom Collins and Martinez.