In the past few years, hundreds of Gins flooded the market. It seems like it has never been as popular as it is today. At least not on a global scale - and there is no end in sight.
We also love a good Gin - both in a cocktail or a Gin & Tonic. And for every style of drink, there's a perfect type to match it.
I have heard people say that Gin is merely a juniper-flavored Vodka. That's not what it is, though. And I will show you that there is more to it.
So, here are the 9 different types of Gin, what they taste like, and what makes them unique.
London Dry Gin
The London Dry Gin currently is probably the most famous type of Gin. It is also the one with the strictest rules.
However, contrary to what the name suggests, a London Dry doesn’t have to be produced in London, but there are plenty of other rules that it has to follow:
- At least 37,5% alcohol
- Distilled with natural botanicals in the still (all at the same time)
- Clear (you can only add water)
- No sugar or flavors addition afterward
Many London Dry Gins still have a strong juniper note. But for most of them, it is no longer the main thing you can taste. Producers are getting more and more creative with the botanicals.
A Dry Gin is pretty similar to a London Dry Gin but has fewer restrictions.
Adding natural substances and botanicals is allowed during any step of the production process. You can also change the appearance and taste of a Dry Gin by using natural food coloring and flavors.
But it must remain boozy - at least 37,5% of alcohol is necessary to qualify for this category.
Yes, Plymouth Gin is technically a type of Gin. Although, there is only one distillery creating it.
Plymouth Gin became very popular when mentioned in the Savoy cocktail book. In total, there were 23 cocktail recipes in this book using it.
It is the main reason it was one of the most popular Gins in the first part of the 20th century.
When it comes to flavor, the Plymouth Gin is dryer than a typical London Dry Gin. It also has a pronounced citrus note, and you get a spicy finish from the mix of seven botanicals.
One of these botanicals is Orris roots. They create a fantastic earthy note, making it a perfect ingredient for Martinis and Negronis.
Actually, Sloe Gins are no Gin but liqueurs. However, they are allowed to use the word Gin - even though most of them do not reach the minimum percentage of alcohol to be one (37,5%).
In this special case, the minimum amount of alcohol a Sloe Gin needs to have to be called a "Gin" is 25%.
It is created by adding Sloe berries and sugar to a Gin. Over the next weeks and months, the Sloe Gin develops and gets its unique, dark red color.
When used in a Gin & Tonic the Sloe berries add a new and fruity taste to your classic G&T.
New Western Dry Gin
New Western Dry is relatively new among the types of Gin. Around the Millenium, several gin crafters (especially American craft Gin distillers) tried to push the boundaries with less juniper-forward creations.
There have been discussions if those products could still be called Gin. The outcome was that yes, you can - and this new type got named New Western Dry Gin. Sometimes they are also referred to as New Wave.
Some examples of these not-so-traditional Gins are Hendricks (cucumber forward), G'Vine & Nordés (grape forward), or the fruity and floral Aviation Gin.
Old Tom Gin
Originally Old Tom Gin is a sweetened style. During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries it had a bad reputation as people started to make their own Gin - sometimes even sweetening the Gin with licorice.
The street name by then was Old Tom.
Today Old Tom Gin has nothing to do with this kind of bathtub Gin. It's distilled using high-quality botanicals. However, there are no fixed legal requirements for this type, making it hard to pinpoint.
As an indication, you can look for sweetness from added licorice in the distillation process. Usually, no flavors are added afterward.
It is richer than a London Dry and works nicely in mixed drinks. A superb fit for pre-Prohibition Cocktail and, naturally, for the Tom Collins.
Gin does not have to be cask-aged, but this is a new trend. Like other spirits, cask-aged Gin absorbs the notes of wooden barrels, and also its color changes slightly.
Some find this type of Gin appealing, while others consider it just a new way to increase Gin prices.
Yet, regardless of what one might think about those Gins, they bring some new flavors and variations into the Gin-world.
Compound / Bathtub Gin
Maybe the least popular type in this list.
A compound - or also called bathtub - Gin does not get distilled. Instead, the botanicals are added to neutral alcohol separately and mixed at the end.
One of the main issues with this type is that it might change in taste and color over time. If the botanicals are not filtered correctly, the tiny parts of botanicals are still developing flavor and color over time.
Using this method, You can create your own Gin at home. It is still not super easy, and the results won't be top quality, but it is fun to do.
Genever is the original style of Gin from the Netherlands and Belgium. Dating back to the 16th century and its creation process is closer to a whiskey than a typical Gin.
Distilled from a malted grain mash (similar to Whiskey), Genever is often cask aged for 1-3 years. There are two versions of Genever - Oude (old) and Jonge (young).
Old Genever is the original style and is relatively sweet and aromatic. Young Genever is drier and has a lighter body.
Which type of Gin is the best?
That is totally up to you. It depends on how you want to drink your Gin, with what you mix it, and what your personal preferences are.
Every type and even every individual Gin itself is different. But of course, there are some things you should consider choosing your best fit.
An Old Genever usually works great in a Gin Old fashioned. A Plymouth Gin works great in Martinis and Negronis. And if you like to enjoy your Gin Tonic with a less juniper-heavy Gin - take a look at the New Wave Gins.
You can also check out our Gin recipes if you want some inspiration.