Types of gin - an easy guide to knowing the difference.

New Zealand is experiencing a bit of a love affair with gin at the moment. New distilleries are opening, new gins are entering the market, and more and more people are discovering the pleasures of this versatile spirit.

So, what exactly is gin? what are the different types? and how do you tell the difference between them? If a friend asks for a martini or a ‘Tom Collins’ it’s important to know what gin to use. Here at Clink Drink, we can help!

Before we go into the five types of gin it’s necessary to give a brief description of how gin is made and what it actually is. Gin is made from a base of grain which is fermented and distilled. Once distilled, gin is infused with juniper berries and other botanicals (herbs, spices, seeds, flowers, roots, and plants) and then distilled for a second time.

Strict laws control what is allowed to be classed as gin. Gin must be a neutral spirit distilled from something natural like wheat, barley, potatoes, or corn. There must be at least 37.5% of pure alcohol (the A.B.V rating) in the total volume of liquid, and the predominant botanical flavour must be juniper. 

Generally, people recognise five types of gin, although in the European Union there are four classifications (gin, distilled gin, London Dry Gin, and juniper-flavoured spirit drinks,) and in the United States they only recognise three types of gin (Genever, gin, and London Dry Gin). 

To keep things simple, we’ll describe the five most commonly known types.

London Dry Gin

London Dry Gin, the most popular and well-known gin. Despite the name it doesn’t have to be made in London (most brands are not). Common brands are Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, and Beefeater. This style is great for classic martinis, gin and tonics, and aviation cocktails. London Dry Gin is very dry, heavily juniper flavoured, light, and aromatic. 

Plymouth Gin 

Plymouth gin, unlike London Dry Gin, must be made in the location it is named after – Plymouth, United Kingdom. It is less dry than London Dry Gin and has less of a juniper flavour. It is infused with more roots which give it an earthier flavour. It can be used in any recipe a London Dry Gin is used.

Genever or Dutch gin 

This is very different in colour and taste to the other types of gins. It is made from a base of malt grains which gives it a darker colour and flavour that is more similar to whiskey. The most common brand is Bols Genever. Genever has been revived by craft mixologists who are using it creatively in new cocktail recipes.

Old Tom Gin 

Old Tom is sweeter than London Dry Gin and named for the fact it was the preferred gin in a Tom Collins cocktail (a classic cocktail featuring gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda water) It is often described as somewhere in between a London Dry Gin and Genever. Hayman’s and Ransom are popular brands of Old Tom. 

International Style Gin 

This is an umbrella term used to refer to the new styles of gin that use the same base distilling process but are predominantly infused with flavours other than juniper berries. Hendrick’s is an example of a new style gin, which is flavoured with cucumber and rose. 

Now that you know the different styles of gin on the market and the differences between them, you can have fun discovering your favourites and the best types to use in your cocktails. 

Stay tuned for more tips and advice, and recommendations on our favourite up and coming products.

Happy experimenting from the team at Clink Drink!