How to make Gin
by John Whitlow on Jul 20, 2023
Hey, gin lovers!
Have you ever wondered how your favourite drink is made? Well, today I'm going to tell you all about the history and the process of making gin, and how different types of stills can affect the flavour and quality of this amazing spirit.
Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink that is flavoured with juniper berries and other botanicals, such as coriander, citrus peel, angelica, orris root, and many more. The word gin comes from the Dutch word genever, which means juniper. Gin originated in the Netherlands in the 17th century, when a Dutch physician named Franciscus Sylvius created a medicinal drink by distilling malt wine with juniper berries. He called it genever, and it soon became popular among Dutch soldiers who drank it before battle to calm their nerves. This is where the term "Dutch courage" comes from.
Gin was introduced to England by William of Orange, who became king of England in 1688. The English soon developed a taste for gin, and started to produce their own versions, often using cheaper ingredients and methods. Gin became so popular that it caused a social crisis known as the Gin Craze, when many people became addicted to the cheap and potent drink. The government tried to regulate gin production and consumption, but it was not until the 18th century that gin quality improved and became more refined.
One of the factors that influenced the quality of gin was the type of still used to distill it. A still is a device that separates alcohol from water and other substances by heating and cooling them. There are two main types of stills used to make gin: pot stills and column stills.
Pot stills are the oldest and simplest type of stills. They consist of a large copper pot with a lid and a pipe that leads to a condenser, where the alcohol vapor is cooled and collected. Pot stills are used to make small batches of gin, usually with a high alcohol content and a strong flavour. Pot stills are also used to make other spirits, such as whiskey and brandy.
Column stills are more modern and efficient type of stills. They consist of a tall column with several plates or trays inside, where the alcohol vapor rises and condenses at different temperatures and purity levels. Column stills can produce large quantities of gin, usually with a lower alcohol content and a lighter flavour. Column stills are also used to make other spirits, such as vodka and rum.
The type of still used to make gin affects the flavor and quality of the final product. Pot stills tend to produce more complex and aromatic gins, while column stills tend to produce more neutral and smooth gins. However, there are many other factors that influence the taste of gin, such as the quality of the base spirit, the choice and quantity of botanicals, the distillation method, and the aging process.
Gin is a versatile and diverse drink that can be enjoyed in many ways. You can sip it neat or on the rocks, mix it with tonic water or soda, or use it as a base for cocktails. Some of the most famous gin cocktails are the martini, the negroni, the gimlet, and the gin fizz. No matter how you drink it, gin is a delicious and fascinating spirit that has a rich history and a bright future.
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