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What is Gin? How is Gin Made?

Learn about this popular juniper infused spirit

Do you love a gin and tonic, but you’re not actually sure what gin is? You may be wondering what actually goes into gin and how it is actually made. So, what is gin anyway?

gin cocktail and bottle of gin

Well we’re here to let you know, gin is a spirit that is made of a combination of juniper and botanicals in order to give gin that signature flavor that we all love.

Read on to learn what gin is made of and how gin is distilled!

What is Gin?

Gin is a spirit distilled from grains, juniper, and other aromatics or botanicals that give it flavor. Gin is a clear liquor with a distinct pine-like flavor, although gins vary in flavor based on brand and how they’re distilled.

Legally, the United States defines gin as an alcohol beverage of no less than 40% ABV that is made with juniper berries.

There are different types of gin, based on what is added to the distilling process and how it’s made.

What is Gin Made From?

Gin is a spirit that is distilled with juniper and other botanicals, herbs, and spices.

juniper berries

Juniper is one the ingredients that you will find all gins have in common and not only that, but it is the primary ingredient too. Distillers of gin use juniper berries in their mash and that brings out the traditional notes of pine often found within your favorite gin.

Some distillers may even combine juniper with other spices in order to create more complex and sophisticated flavors but juniper will always remain the star of the show that holds gin all together!

The second most important ingredient in gin is the botanicals and these are what you will find vary from gin to gin as much like a chef, every distiller likes to flavor their gin differently.

Each distiller will have their own recipe of botanicals and spices that they like to use in order to help bring their spirits to life and these will differ, depending on what flavor the distiller is trying to achieve.

Some of the most commonly used botanicals include coriander seeds, lemon and orange peel, almonds, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

How is Gin Made?

Besides juniper and other botanicals and spices, the most integral part of the making of each batch of gin are actually the distillers themselves. While juniper and other add-ins give gin its flavor, they are not the beginning of the process.

To make gin, you start with a grain base, like wheat or barley. Like many liquors, the production process starts by fermenting grains and then distilling them.

Once the grain is fermented, distillers add in water, the juniper berries, and other botanicals or aromatics to add a unique flavor to the gin.

In essence, the distillers are the master chef when it comes to putting it all together and they’re the ones that have the final say on which botanicals go into each batch and help ensure that flavors stay consistent.

As with anything in life, it can be hard to get perfection every time and as a result not every batch is made equally, so it’s up to the distillers to test their samples throughout the process to ensure quality control.

In the initial stages of making any gin, there is a lot of trial and error but once they find a process that works, they can narrow it down to a recipe they like (with the exact ingredients and proportions are typically under lock and key).

Needless to say, it’s a fun job and it takes a perfectionist to get it right, so next time you have a sip of your gin, give a small toast to the distillers who made them too!

How To Drink Gin

gin cocktails

You can drink gin any way you like – straight, in a classic cocktail, or mix up your own inventive cocktail! Gin martinis are popular, although the most popular way to drink gin is in a gin and tonic.

Popular gin cocktails also include a gin fizz, a Tom Collins, a Negroni, a gimlet, a French 75, or an aviation, just to name a few.

Gin is a very versatile spirit, and it pairs well with lots of other flavors, so try something new and make unique gin cocktails with your next bottle!

FAQ

What does gin taste like?

Gin tastes like juniper berries primarily, since they are the most important ingredient for distilling the spirit. The famous gin flavor is often described as tasting like pine needles.

Beyond the flavor of juniper, gin flavors vary greatly depending on the brand and botanicals that are added. Some gins may have a more floral flavor, while others may be more citrus-y. Others have more of a spice to them.

Are gin and vodka the same?

No, gin and vodka are not the same – they are very different liquors. Gin and vodka have different ingredients and distilling processes, and they result in very different flavors.

While gin has a distinct juniper taste, vodka is usually flavorless (unless you buy a flavored vodka). They are both clear liquors, usually distilled from grains, and both have a high alcohol content, but the similarities end there.

Is gin expensive?

No, gin is not typically an expensive liquor, and there are plenty of inexpensive gin brands that taste great at a low price.

That being said, there are high end gins that are expensive. It’s really up to you how much you want to spend on a bottle – you can get a good bottle for under $20 or over $100!

Final Thoughts

Gin has made a comeback in recent years, so this beloved liquor isn’t going anywhere. If you haven’t tried gin yet, take a sip or mix up a cocktail to give it a try – it might be your new favorite!

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Written by Brian N

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.