What gives gin its unique flavor?

The botanical ingredients in gin are plant additives that are used to give the liquor its unique flavor and aroma. When liquor distillation began, the main additive was juniper berries. These berries have a high concentration of an organic compound called alpha-pinene, which gives juniper berries their pine-needle smell and flavor. Juniper is the only botanist that the law must include in gin.

Juniper berries give gin its character and invigorating pine quality. Some blends you see on store shelves have just four botanical ingredients, and others have many, many more. There is only one legal requirement for making gin: juniper must be used. Juniper berries, which are not really berries at all, are a cone of seeds, are what give gin its pine flavor.

From there, botanical ingredients are added to the mix, creating a more complete and unique artisanal flavor. The only ingredient that all gins have in common is juniper, a characteristic botanical that is 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 unites everything.

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. While it's not that easy to say, since the general impression is not that of a “spicy” gin, Bombay Sapphire has a clear heavenly streak in the end. When distilled, pink peppercorns retain their almost cheesy nature, providing a certain amount of fire to a liquor. Depending on the flavor they're trying to achieve, whether it's more citrus or floral, some of the most commonly used botanical ingredients are coriander seeds, lemon and orange peels, almonds, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

Opihr gin and Bathtub Navy Strength have a remarkable touch of cassia, and although it has more nuances in Langley's No. The only consistent flavor that permeates all gins, regardless of brand or type, is juniper, a subtle pine scent. Another, perhaps more whimsical, use of chamomile that might be interesting to waiters, is the use of the herb to encourage lucid dreaming. While the flavor of the fruit may not be abundant in the final liquor, Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin uses different varieties in combination for its recipe; where appropriate, the Valencian and Navel oranges are placed fresh and whole in its steam basket.

We've included a bit of history and context around the ingredient itself, but more importantly, which gins show them best. Believe it or not, gin is just flavored vodka and this is the part of the process where they begin to differentiate themselves. In the 19th century, gin already had some roots in the United States due to imports from England, but it wasn't until prohibition that its popularity increased. Chase Pink Grapefruit and Grapefruit gin is also a good expression that shows a clear forward citrus profile backed by juniper.

To the taste, saffron gives a pleasant touch to juniper in a gin and, although it generally has a tasty sensation, the sweetness of the smell translates into the tongue and the overall flavor is reminiscent of cinnamon toast, even if slightly. Cubeb highlights its spicy flavor with Poetic License, Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin and can be smelled, tasted and stayed long after the gin has passed through the Blue Bottle Gin. After that, the alcohol can be collected for immediate bottling or placed in barrels or barrels for aging. During the 1920s and 1930s, many made gin at home, coining the term bathtub gin, because it was fast and affordable.


Terrance Wilson
Terrance Wilson

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