Britain and gin are known for their love affair and it appears that our relationship with this juniper-based spirit is anything but disappearing. Now that the clocks have sprung forward and winter is far from us; the thoughts of beer gardens, afternoon daylight and picnics are very much front of mind and so what better time to think about our beloved gin and tonic than now!
Everyone seems to be ginning it, but do you actually know what goes into your favourite gin? What botanicals are in the gin you love, and why should you care?
Since we’ve got your attention, let’s get to know more about Juniper. For the spirit to be called gin, it must have the predominant flavour of Juniper. Juniper berries are small, round and very bitter, but when distilled into gin, they become part of a piney flavour which complements other botanicals in gin. It’s not only Juniper that makes your favourite gin so tasty, but also citrus, seeds and roots, rosemary, lavender, cumin, ginger…the list goes on. Let’s dive into some.
Most gin producers will use an element of citrus in their recipes to lift and complement other flavours, it is a huge part of the gin family. Citrus flavours include lemon, orange or grapefruit. Often it is dried citrus that is used, as it is easier to transport and less oily. Typically, with oranges, it is the peel that is used dry for a sweet or bitter taste. One of our favourite gins which incorporate citrus is Thomas Dakin! The spirit boasts zesty notes throughout mainly from orange and grapefruit, so if citrus is your bag then grab a light tonic and mix with Thomas Dakin this weekend.
Seeds and roots
Alongside citrus, the second most common botanicals in gin are seeds and roots including coriander, cumin, cardamom and orris root. These all give gin an earthy and spicy taste when mixed with Juniper, Some botanicals may not be for everyone as they can be quite strong, however when mixed with a tonic they make an excellent pair for an afternoon drink with friends.
Orris root is an extremely popular root which adds a distinctive aromatic flavour, most particularly in gins such as Bombay Sapphire. Orris root is taken from Iris flowers which take around five years to grow, they are extracted and left to dry before it can be grounded into a spice. If you like floral tones, try Bombay Sapphire with Fever-Tree tonic water and a squeeze of fresh fragrant lime.
Angelica root is a herb related to dill and fennel, both of which have a liquorice type flavour. Similar to orris root, it takes a couple of years to grow and then is dried for gin production. A small number of gins use the root, in particular, Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin; its enticing flavour mixes well with juniper and zesty lemon to create the perfect combination. If you have a sweet tooth, try Seagram’s range of flavoured gins with fresh lemonade and a wheel of lemon on the side.
Last but not least we have Cardamom. One of the world’s most expensive spices, however, it is often used in gins as a signature botanical; the secret to the power is its black seeds inside the pods that add all the aromatic flavour. One of the best gins to try with the flavour of cardamom is Opihr. It is a rich gin with keynotes of cumin and cardamom which provide a warm, earthy background, with a hint of citrus. Pair your Opihr Oriental Spice with ginger ale and an orange swirl for the perfect drink.
Explore our full range of gins and get yours in time for Spring!