It would seem that like the many flavours of gin, there are many production and distillation methods. Here was me thinking there would just be one way to make the lovely stuff. Wrong!
The methods of distilling and producing gin over the years has developed thanks to modernisation of techniques and technologies and has been narrowed down to 3 main styles which we will go into a little detail about below.
Pot Distilling – this is one of the earliest methods of gin distillation and on that the expert say best represent the earlier tastes of gin. Minus the turps and other cheap and worrying ingredients that they used to put into it….
With this method, using barley and or other grains, a grain mash is distilled. This grain mash produces a very neutral tasting clear spirit which is essentially tasteless all except for the ethanol tastes. Once ready it is then redistilled with the chosen botanicals. It is distilled with the botanicals so that the aroma and flavours of these compounds can be extracted.
The use of pot stills means that the alcohol levels remain fairly low sitting at around 68% ABV.
Gins produced via the method of post distillation are known to taste somewhat heavier and maltier than other styles of gin, Not unlike Whisky in fact. Usually aged in big wooden casks.
Column Distilled Gin – this is the method usually used for making higher proof gins. Using this method will produce gins with an ABV of around 96%.
First a fermented mash is distilled in a reflux still and then once the mash is ready, the neutral tasting spirit is then distilled in the column still which creates the higher alcohol content. The base for this gin may be anything with an agricultural origin such as potatoes, sugar and even grapes etc. Once the proof is at the required levels, the alcohol is then redistilled in a pot still with juniper berries and any other botanicals required to give the desired scents and tastes.
This method makes for a much lighter gin that the pot distilling method.
Depending on the way that the gin is finished it will either be labelled a distilled gin or a London gin.
Compound Gin – this is a simpler production of gin as there is no redistilling of the neutral spirits. The gin is simply flavoured by adding natural flavour essences.
Gin – made using compound gin methods and so is not redistilled in any way
London Gin – gin whose flavour is added using natural botanicals using the redistillation method. This is a lower ABV gin of around 70%. The final product of London Gin may not contain any of the following – No colourants, non added ingredients other than water and no sweetening agents. London gin is a dryer gin
Distilled Gin –this is your traditional gin name in traditional stills. Distilled in the presence of juniper berries and any other natural botanicals that are chosen providing that the predominant flavour that comes through is of the juniper berries.
Although for most gins the predominant flavour is juniper berries there are some non distilled fins that have been flavoured with natural essences and some beautiful gins have been made. I have not tried many however I have seen many that sound delicious such as Raspberry, Sloe, Plum, Damson.
I have tried Damson gin as my cousin made some for us and it was super yummy. The bottle is mostly gone now as even Sy who doesn’t like gin likes it!
We also tried rhubarb gin once and wow – tasty stuff!
What is your favourite gin to pop into your hip flask and why???
We do have some other articles that we have written on gin;
Gorgeous Gin for your hip flasks