Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Why you should be drinking Gin

Why Gin, why not Whiskey, Tequila or even Vodka?

Don't get me wrong i love a good whiskey, Rum or even Vodka where Gin pips them all for me is in the variety of flavours and methods available to distillers of Gin.

For me there are 2 Key reasons to drink Gin:
1) Creativity: Gin is a spirit that is not heavily defined by restrictive regulations like Whiskey as long as there is Juniper in the product and it has been created through distillation your good to go. This leaves a lot of room to be creative there are thousands actually more like millions of different botanicals and combinations of botanicals that can be used.
2) Craft: Gin can’t simply be produced by adding flavouring as with most vodka in other words there is craft as well as tradition and innovation involved in how Gin is produced.

For these 2 reasons you might liken the increasing interest in craft Gin to the all out boom that is happening with Craft beer Globally.

To elaborate on point 1 a little, most countries state that Gin must either contain Juniper or have Juniper as the dominant flavour characteristic, which means there is quite a lot of wiggle room to include other flavours and that is where the biggest growth in craft categories have been coming from.
From here on is where things become a little weird and off putting for those that are new to Gin, the officially recognised categories for Gin are generally:
London Dry Gin is the the most well know category and generally means that the gin has been distilled and has no added sugar or colour, so it does not have to be produced in London at all.
Plymouth Gin produced by 1 distillery of the same name in the city of Plymouth.
Flavoured Gin receives its taste from artificial flavours, distilling is not necessary.

So which one do you buy if you are new to Gin? Well if you haven’t tried it you wouldn't know. This is a personal bug bear of mine and something that I am really hoping craft distilleries will start to drive a change in the way Gin is labelled.

So I say to other Gin manufacturers let the creativity flow and inform people of what they are purchasing, Ideally Gin should be categorised by flavour. Ignoring aged and flavoured Gin for the moment and focusing on properly distilled Gins there are 5 main tastes that Gins of today generally fall under.
1) Juniper
2) Citrus/fruit
3) Spicy
4) Floral
5) Earthy/Woody
However don’t be limited by this, why not try distilling the sap of the Dragonblood tree found on the Socotra Archipelago off the horn of Africa,  please explore, I want to know what that tastes like!
As alluded to earlier there is an upsurge in the number of aged Gins being produced at the moment, how awesome is that combine the botanical richness of Gin with the hearty woody flavours normally associated with a good whiskey/bourbon and you have the best of both worlds!

Point 2 refers to the fact that Gin is at its essence created through the distillation of various botanicals, herbs, fruits and whatever else you can get your hands on, as long as there is a decent amount of Juniper included in this mixture.
At our distillery we produce batches of anywhere from 40 Litres to 250 Litres and there is a lot of hands on time consuming processes to make sure that nothing is overlooked in the quality of the product.
Like any good craft there are traditional and non traditional ways of going about the distillation process.
-Steeping vs vapour infusing your botanicals
-Grain vs Whey vs Molasses vs Potato vs Peruvian purple cherries
-Column vs Pot distillation  
-Cold distillation
-Copper vs Stainless Stills
and all the variations in between and around. All these things can have a huge influence on the taste of your Gin.
There are also some types of Gins that have been produced by simply adding a flavouring however these are normally and if not should be noted on the label of the bottle to ensure that distilled Gin is recognised for the effort that is involved in its creation.

The UK have seen a 49% growth in Gin sales over the last 2 years outperforming all other alcohol categories in the market, it is the craft and premium segments that are driving all of this growth with people becoming more and more interested in different flavour profiles and the processes that go into producing them.

So what I am trying to say is that with a solid craft behind it and healthy dose of innovation Gin has an exciting future ahead of it. 

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