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The three (or five) basic styles of gin...

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
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Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:25 pm    Post subject: The three (or five) basic styles of gin... Reply with quote

It all starts with juniper...

And continues with real and natural botanical including the second most popular ingredient - coriander seeds - plus various others including almonds, angelica root, aniseed, caraway, cinnamon, ginger, lemon, lime and/or orange peels, cumin, and grains of paradise. Also used are orris root, cardamom, cassia bark, cumin, nutmeg, rosemary, fennel, licorice, rose petals, and even cucumber.

Roots, seeds and pods, fruit peels, barks, nuts, berries and vegetables, and in the case of quality gins, all natural. Now on to the basic styles:

1. The first gins to be made originated in Holland (Holland style), concocted around 1650 by Francis De Le Boe Slyvius, a Dutch physician and chemist. Early on he sought a cure for stomach and kidney illnesses and found that juniper berry oil was a good diuretic. He believed the juniper would cleanse the system and in fact, it did.

The problem: the juniper oil was so acrid it was nearly unpalatable. He then added the oil of juniper to neutral grain spirits (as a common vehicle for many medicines of the day, and voila!

Genever, French for "juniper", also known as Dutch or Holland gin. The remedy was effective enough that demand grew and Bols (still in business) began marketing a commercial version that was much more aromatic than gins made in America or London.

The Dutch gins are made from "malt wine" (fermented malt), which results in a full-bodied malty aroma and flavor. It comes as a "jounge" (unaged, young) and "oude" (old, aged at least 1 year in oak). These are not considered mixers, but tend to be consumed cold, perhaps with a dash of bitters. True and authentic Holland styles feature a strong juniper presence and is often straw colored.

2. Plymouth style gin was the first gin made in London in, of course, Plymouth, London circa 1793. It has been made continuously since then. Unlike Dutch/Holland gins, Plymouth gin is made from soft water and wheat. Along with rum, Plymouth gin became the official gin of the British Royal Navy served as the ubiquitous G&T (gin and tonic), served with a lime wedge. Of the three styles, Plymouth deemphasizes juniper to blend more evenly with the other botanicals used. Plymouth gins are crystal clear.

3. London Dry style is the gin with which most are familiar. Most are derived from about 75% corn and 25% barley, and feature juniper in the lead, over other botanicals. These gins are notably dry, and are by far the most popular, mostly due to ignorance.

A couple of rare and hard-to-find sub-styles do exist. A sweetened London Dry known a Old Tom originated in old London as a lightly sweetened gin. The original formula is still made by British Haymans. Old Tom is also known as "The Missing Link" as its sweetness falls between the London Dry and Holland styles.

Another sub-style is German gin, aka Steinhager. This gin is very, very strong and is based solely on juniper, with no other botanicals, and sold in a ceramic jug.

Some Examples...

London Dry: Beefeater. According to the Beefeater website, Beefeater Gin contains nine different botanicals: juniper, angelica root, angelica seeds, coriander seeds, liquorice, almonds, orris root, seville oranges, and lemon peel. These botanicals are steeped for 24 hours before distillation. A classic and highly respected London Dry. Using column stills for base spirit, then final distillation of cold compounded spirit in pot stills. Bold, dry, angular, juniper forward.

Holland Style: Vincent Van Gogh. Uses 10 botanicals including angelica, coriander, grains of paradise, almonds, lemon liquorice, juniper berries, cassia bark, orris root and cubeb berries. Double distilled with a final distillation in pot stills. A small batch gin. Balanced, smooth, complex, fruity.

Plymouth Style: Plymouth Gin in Plymouth, England. Plymouth's recipe includes seven botanicals – juniper, coriander, sweet orange, cardamom, angelica and orris root - with more of the root botanicals for a more earthy effect, and deemphasizes the juniper a bit. Final distillation using a pot still. This gin is made with soft water and blends the botanicals so that no single botanical dominates (unlike London Dry style). Plymouth gin has received numerous awards and is very highly regarded. It is known for its soft, smooth, slightly sweet character.

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3499
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:14 am    Post subject: Just a minute, Capn! Reply with quote

Just a minute, Capn!

Although the OP is accurate, some feel there are actually five styles...

One of the problems with comparing spirits is that some, like rum or here gin are made in distinctive styles that somehow arose - not by the dictum of a mega-corporation - but authentically out of history, perhaps geography (or not) and tradition. Style is some that develops without attribution over time, but then one day becomes apparent, and voila! A name is attached. Or in this case, five names.

The big fail though is that most of the so-called reviewers fail to identify, respect, promote, review and compare properly, ie based on style.

1. London Dry – classic juniper forward, and dry!

2. Plymouth – unique to itself, can only be made in Plymouth, England. Wheat based, and perhaps earthier. The gin of Travis McGee.

3. Holland – slightly malty, even whisky tones, made from neutral spirits and includes malt wine - Jonge style uses a maximum of 15% malt wine, while Oude style uses a minimum of 15% malt wine. Korinwijn, a rich and rare style of Dutch gin, uses more than 50% malt wine.

4. Old Tom – lightly sweetened, eg with sugar or orange flower water.

5. New Western – still juniper, but not as forward, and featuring other herbals. Designed to expand mixologist's options.

Each of these represents a distinctly different style and taste profile. To really compare two gins they must be of the same style, or else what is being represented is no more than a personal preference for a given style.

For example if Beefeater’s (the definitive classic London Dry style) is found superior to say Plymouth Gin or Amsterdam, all that really tells you is that the taster likes London Dry gins better than Holland or Plymouth styles. To be meaningful, Beefeaters would better be compared to another London Dry, like Tanqueray.

As for Sue Sea and moi, Sue Seal loves New American and Plymouth styles, while I dig Plymouth with the undisputed classic Beefeaters a close second.

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Last edited by Capn Jimbo on Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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The Black Tot

Joined: 21 Aug 2014
Posts: 283
Location: Houston TX and Caterham, UK

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite by accidend I found a few bottles of Leyden's gin.

Apparently Leyden's is the predecessor of Van Gogh, from about 10-15 years ago, and in the Dutch style.

It's my favorite so far, and I have yet to buy a bottle of Van Gogh to compare it. VG is a different proof and may not taste the same, but I'm hoping it does, because I'd like a readily made product that I can count on, or bunker if not!

I'll keep my eyes open the next time I'm in Holland to see if Leyden's is still in production in the Dutch market.
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