An image of two goblet glasses of gin and tonic with ice and a lime garnish

The Ever-Expanding World of Gin

Embark on a voyage through the ever-expanding world of gin, uncovering its storied past and the 21st-century resurgence that has given rise to new expressions, garnishes, and craft distillations.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.

History and Production

During the 16th century, English soldiers fought alongside Dutch soldiers in the Thirty Years War, sampling Dutch spirit Genever for the first time. Its distinctive taste led to producers adding herbs to ease the palate on consumption.

Though gin is produced similarly to vodka, the distilled liquid also undergoes a flavouring process. Gin must have a dominant flavour of juniper, a small aromatic blackberry common in Europe with Dutch origins.

The English Regulate Gin

In the mid-18th century, "Old Tom" gin was produced in large unsolicited volumes across Britain. Eventually, the law allowed only a small group of large gin producers the legal right to distil the spirit. By 1803, only nine gin producers contributed to 90% of London's distilling capacity.

Introduction of Coffey Stills

As time passed and production methods began to progress, the introduction of Coffey stills and higher quality base spirit improved the image of gin.

Cocktail Culture

At its height, gin was the English national drink and export to the US began to thrive; bartenders saw this as a light, clear spirit perfect for use in a new social drinking craze called the cocktail.

Vodka Takes Over

Gin was king of the clear liquid till the 1960s when it was knocked off the throne by vodka, a spirit sweeping Europe and the US due to its almost odourless smell and delicate taste.

The Great Gin Comeback

In the late 20th century, gin started its comeback with brands such as Tanqueray No.10 showcasing style, sophistication and, most importantly, a lighter, more delicate flavour which appealed to the modern drinker.

21st Century Upgrades

  • Gin is global - Gin has expanded from a traditional British spirit to a worldly, well-travelled liquid, taking botanical inspiration from various regions and cultures.
  • Garnishes are unlimited - Alongside lemon and lime wedges, many ingredients such as rosemary, apple, cucumber, and cherries are now prominent in gin creations.
  • The rise of craft liquids - The explosion of herbs, vegetables, fruits and spices to flavour gin has set this category ablaze and started a new defining era for this spirit.

Gin Categories

Gin is one of the most versatile spirits. It is labelled and can be referred to based on these four subcategories:

  1. Juniper Flavoured Spirit Drinks – must be made from 96% ABV spirit or grain spirit, a discernible juniper character, natural or nature-identical flavourings may be used and a minimum bottling strength of 30% ABV.
  2. Gin – 96% ABV highly rectified spirit must be used, a discernible juniper character, natural or nature-identical flavourings may be used and a minimum bottling strength of 37.5% ABV.
  3. Distilled Gin – Redistilling a 96% ABV highly rectified spirit with juniper berries and other botanicals. Natural or nature-identical flavourings may be added and it’s prepared for bottling with the addition of either/or highly rectified spirit and water. It must taste predominantly of juniper and a minimum bottling strength of 37.5% ABV.
  4. London Dry / London Gin – This is identical to a distilled gin, except no flavourings or sweeteners can be added to the distillate. There is no geographical delimitation for London Dry Gin.

Celebrate World Gin Day

World Gin Day is usually celebrated on the second Saturday in June and is an opportunity for bars and their guests to rejoice in the wonderful world of gin and pay homage to this humble spirit.

Essential Gin Serves

Gordon's Gin & Tonic

Master an iconic serve before experimenting with your signature twists.

Try this perfectly balanced G&T recipe.

The Gordon's Ruby Cooler

Create an attractive, sweet and vibrant gin cocktail with a touch of ginger fizz. Try this beautifully refreshing Ruby Cooler recipe.

Key Takeaways

  • Gin's Historical Roots: Gin shares its beginnings with vodka in the distillation process, but the juniper infusion sets it apart.
  • The Evolution of Gin: Advancements in distillation methods and the introduction of quality base spirits earned gin its place as a beloved drink and a cocktail essential.
  • Gin Classification: Gin has four subcategories: Juniper Flavoured Spirit Drinks, Gin, Distilled Gin, and London Dry/London Gin.
  • Gin's Resurgence: In the late 20th century, gin brands like Tanqueray No. 10 were part of a gin resurgence with sophisticated profiles appealing to modern palates.
  • The 21st-Century Gin Renaissance: The rise of craft distilleries has redefined gin's boundaries, offering an explosion of flavours.

Gin's story is one of resilience and renaissance, drawing inspiration from many botanicals and traditions. Whether creating the perfect Gin & Tonic or inventing your signature gin creation, the diverse world of gin offers endless possibilities for crafting your guests' favourite cocktails and inventive serves.

Continue to explore the story behind the spirits, develop your craft and gain access to the industry expertise when you sign up to the Diageo Bar Academy.