The Best Gin: How Is Gin Made?

While even the best gin is not as popular as certain types of alcohol like bourbon whiskey, wine, or Scotch, gin used to be one of the most popular drinks around. It is the foundation for martinis and many other types of cocktails too. While it may look like an ordinary clear liquid, it actually has very interesting origins.

Gin also has something that makes it very unique compared to other types of liquor: juniper berries.

What Is the Best Gin Made Of?

Gin is made of wheat or barley that goes through a thorough distillation process. To give the drink the right flavor, the gin manufacturer will continue to add water and various herbs and other botanicals until the perfect blend of flavors is achieved.

Gin cannot be considered gin if it does not taste like juniper berries. Juniper berries are actually a very healthy type of berry packed with antioxidants. They are also very aromatic and give gin its unique aroma. Besides the flavor of juniper berries, some types of gin may also have hints of citrus or rosemary.

The flavor all depends on what kind of herbs the gin manufacturer decides to infuse into the gin. Besides having the flavor of juniper berries, gin must legally be 40% ABV.

The Process

Gin starts out as a neutral spirit that has no flavor and is more or less pure grain alcohol. Pure grain alcohol is not great to drink unless you’re a fan of liver failure, so in order to make it good, the manufacturer will need to re-distill it. The most traditional way to do this is to use the steep method.

The steep method involves putting the neutral spirit into a pot still. This is a special vessel designed to hold spirits and be heated to high temperatures. After the spirit is added to the pot still, botanicals and juniper berries will be added with it. Gin may actually start out as vodka in some cases.

The Details

the best gin

That’s because vodka can act as a great base spirit and after re-distillation, it can turn into gin. The botanicals in the pot still need to sit and steep for around two days. This will help to infuse the flavors of the botanicals into the spirit. After that period, it is necessary to add water to make the spirit less strong and more enjoyable to human tastes.

There is also another method to accomplish this re-distillation: the vapor infusion method. In this case, the herbs and botanicals never have the chance to touch the spirit itself. Instead, the spirit will be boiled in the pot still and the vapors will rise up and interact with a basket full of botanicals resting above the pot still but not in it.

The vapor itself will become infused with the flavors and aromas of the botanicals. Then, the vapor condenses and falls back down into the pot still. The last step is to add water to the resulting liquid to create gin that’s ready to be bottled. The difference between the vapor infusion method and the steep method is that some believe that the vapor infusion method produces gin with a milder flavor.

Some manufacturers may try to use both of these re-distillation methods on the same batch of gin to maximize the flavor.

Types of Gin

  • Old Tom Gin – This type of gin is sweeter than other types of gin. For that reason, it is a great addition to cocktails.
  • Aged gin – Aged gins spend years in oak barrels. These barrels were likely used to age bourbon and other whiskeys, so these flavors will infuse into the gin.
  • London dry gin – This is a classic type of gin. It is a simple mixture of botanicals and pure grain spirit.
  • Homemade gin – Homemade gin is usually on the sweeter side due to the addition of sugar. However, homemade gin can vary a lot depending on what you put in it.

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