Thank you Epicurious for your excellent tribute to gin! Apparently gin is having a 21st century resurgence, but for me it never left as my spirit of choice. This is a great article covering everything from tasting notes on different brands, to how gin is made, to pre-prohibition era styles (London Dry, Dutch-style, and something called Old Tom gin). While I already knew a fair bit about juniper and the other aromatics used in the production of my favourite spirit – thanks to the Bombay Sapphire bottle for piquing my interest – it was interesting to learn more about how gin is made and its sordid history.
From the Epicurious article Gin Blossoms:
How gin is made
Gin begins very much like vodka ends — as a neutral grain spirit — but then is flavored with a world of seeds, spices, herbs, fruits, and roots that are known collectively as botanicals. Some gins are made in the belly of the still; the botanicals are left to soak in the base spirit. As soon as they’ve imparted their flavors, the spirit is distilled and then cut with water to a drinkable strength. Others are made by boiling the base spirits and passing the resulting vapor through a chamber that holds the mix of botanicals. When the steam is cooled back into liquid, it’s gin.
Typically, common flavorings such as angelica, coriander, and lemon peel take a backseat to the piney aroma and flavor of juniper berries, gin’s defining characteristic and the very root of its name. (The word gin is a distortion of genever, the Dutch word for juniper.) Gin’s restored popularity, however, has spawned a flood of new brands, including some — cucumber-and-rose-petal-spiked Hendrick’s Gin, for example — that challenge the dominance of juniper.
And while you can’t go wrong with classics like the martini or the much beloved gin and tonic, the wealth of gin recipes out there should be enough to get even the most seasoned gin drinker inspired to try something new.