Is gin always made with juniper?

While gin must have a strong juniper flavor (and therefore tends to include juniper berries), distillers are free to add any other botanical ingredient they want to achieve their target flavor. Citrus fruits, nuts and spices often find their place in gin recipes. The only consistent flavor that permeates all gins, regardless of brand or type, is juniper, a subtle pine scent. The only ingredient that all gins have in common is juniper, a characteristic botanical used to flavor this liquor.

Since it is a main ingredient that defines gin, distillers use juniper berries in their puree, helping to highlight the traditional pine notes often found inside. While many distillers like to combine juniper with a variety of other spices to help achieve more complex and sophisticated flavors, juniper is the star of the show that brings it all together. Gin is a liquor distilled from grains, juniper and other aromatic or botanical compounds that give it flavor. Gin is a clear liquor with a distinctive pine flavor, although gins vary in flavor depending on the brand and the way they are distilled.

Made with a base of fermented grains, fruits or starch, the addition of juniper berries and an infinite variety of other botanical ingredients, such as spices or herbs, gin has developed its well-deserved place in the alcoholic beverage industry. Plymouth gin can only be made in a specific location in Plymouth, England, and is incredibly similar to dry London gin, with less alcohol by volume and a slightly stronger citrus note. When it comes to spirits, gin has always been a favorite for cocktail lovers and mixologists alike. In the early stages of making any gin, there's a lot of trial and error, but once they find a process that works, they can reduce it to a recipe they like (with the exact ingredients and proportions they're usually under lock and key).

That said, rye is most popularly used for gin liqueurs, as it provides a strong white canvas for all the great flavors that will be infused into it later. Believe it or not, gin is just flavored vodka and this is the part of the process where they begin to differentiate themselves. However, these flavors are very subtle and gin isn't “flavored” in the modern sense of artificial added flavors; it's more like the different notes of citrus or spices that you can detect in your wine. The only botanical required in gin is the juniper berry, and distillers will use less or more depending on the flavor profile they are looking for.

To be classified as gin, brandy must contain juniper berries and have an alcohol percentage by volume of 40%. What is the story behind Navy Strength gin? Well, starting in the 18th century, for about 200 years, the Royal British Navy received rations of gin (for officers) and rum (for sailors) for them to drink during their long trips. Beyond the flavor of juniper, gin flavors vary greatly depending on the brand and the botanical ingredients added. Some of the most commonly used botanical ingredients are coriander seeds, lemon and orange peels, almonds, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

Terrance Wilson
Terrance Wilson

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