Fermented kim-chi, infrared saunas, intravenous turmeric injections…
If there’s one thing you should stick with in 2018, make sure it’s something you know will last like a new obsession with a classic spirit – Gin. Getting schooled in a given spirit might just give you the opportunity you never knew you needed to jump off the fence and fall madly in love with it.
Do yourself a favour, upgrade your booze game and become a real spirits swami but first let’s start with the basics shall we?
What's in my gin?
Gin is actually one of the most exciting and versatile spirits, distilled with a range of botanicals and infusions which work excellently in cocktails and other mixed drinks. Gin is one of the least regulated spirits meaning that when it comes to the flavours and infusions, basically anything goes. In recent years the flavour spectrum of gin has exploded to encompass countless new and exotic tastes and scents from areas around the world now joining the growing gin movement.
The most common style of gin is a London Dry gin. This is where most people's minds go when they think of gin. Mother’s Milk or Mother’s Ruin as Nan used to call it. Gordon's, Bulldog, Beefeater, Hendricks, Tanqeuray, Sipsmith. Most of the household names. They’re made of all natural ingredients with the added botanicals imparting flavour through the distilling process. London drys cannot have additional flavouring infusions added after the distillation process and showcase traditional botanicals used which can include the following botanicals and others.
There are a number of other popular gin styles, the most common being Dutch or Genever style gin which is a little sweeter and more aromatic after being aged in oak casks for 1-3 years. This is a style which predates all other styles and was initially distilled during the middle ages. Genever gin quickly became the spirit of choice for many classic American cocktails during the 19th Century. Today this style is best known in Hendrick's gin which adds the unique inclusion of rose petals and cucumber as botanicals to recreate the traditional British feel of afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches in your Nanna's rose garden.
Exactly what a gin is has expanded in recent years to encompass a wider range of flavours, especially as small-batch gins hit the market and gain notoriety. A number of new and experimental producers are now playing around with unconventional botanicals which say something about the distillery and gin. The West Winds Gins are a local WA based gin distillery based in Margaret River which have taken the Australian gin market by storm.
The distillery has made an international reputation for themselves by championing indigenous Australian botanicals and flavours in their gins. Flavours including lemon myrtle, Australian bush tomato, wattle seed, cinnamon myrtle and more are distilled using collected rainwater from the region which highlights our nation’s diverse, unique environment and climate in each bottle.
Here Are Some Tips On becoming A Gin Guru
1. Find your gin through basic cocktails
When exploring the endless list of different gins and their flavours to find a winner, it's important you can actually taste the gin’s flavours through whatever it’s mixed with to figure out what you like. A relatively neutral mix in a martini or G&T is perfect for really identifying and appreciating any hidden botanicals. Be careful with your garnishes until you’ve found a gin you really enjoy without any assistance from a juicy lime wedge.
2. When making a gin drink, compliment and contrast
Gin is the ultimate cocktail spirit with it’s ability to marry and carry flavours like no other. The possibilities with gin cocktails are endless. Drinking gin correctly is all about the right accompaniment. Whether you’re adding a mixer or a garnish, additional flavours added should either complement already present flavours or contrast them. Read tonic labels and consider their flavour profile. Use your judgement. An already citrus-forward gin doesn’t need further citrus or acidity added as a garnish or in the mixer. Try a nice spice or herb like a cinnamon stick or sprig of rosemary to balance things out.
3. Keep it neat & put some hair on your chest
People seldom drink gin by itself. You shouldn’t be afraid to drink gin neat. Nowadays, the growing gin boom and the huge number of new exciting distilled gin flavours mean it’s a lot easier finding a gin you not only tolerate but enjoy drinking, even by itself!
4. Play with the temp
Altering a gins temperature before serving can be another interesting way to explore different flavours and textures. To really geek out on your gin, try throwing it in the freezer for a bit and watch as the spirit becomes thicker and more viscous where as a stint under sun will let the flavours really open up.
For the gin and tonic enthusiast, your tonic should ALWAYS be chilled… When tonic is warm, the whole mix will taste sweeter and be less fizzy.