What is a Gin?

October 6, 2020


What is Gin?Gin tasting sessions and Gin masterclasses

Gin is a clear alcoholic sprit distilled from grain, malt or now sometimes even potatoes. Gin must legally have a “predominant juniper flavour,” but there are no set guidelines as  to what other botanicals may be used, or a minimum/ maximum quantity of juniper berries that need to be added during the distilling process.

What is Juniper?

Juniper is one of the UK’s most threatened tress and is actually on the International Union for the Conservation of Natures endangered list. What is used is essentially a pine cone or female seed cone of a coniferous tree. This is collected and either redistilled or turned into a highly concentrated essence which is then added to very high strength neutral spirit.

This is an issue as nearly all juniper is harvested from the wild with very little being cultivated.

Some numbers

2019 was a big year in Gin production with some £672 millions worth of British Gin being exported and total sales exceeding £3 billion, this is big business and is a testimony to the skills of our distillers.

2019 also a monumental leap in the number of distilleries working in the UK with 80 new distilleries coming online in that year bringing the total number of distilleries to 441 with 228 found in England. This is a massive indication that the Gin Boom is still going considering there were only 23 distilleries in 2010.

But these figures are nothing compared to what there used to be with some 1500 working stills or a working gin still for 1 in 4 habitable homes in early 18th century London.

With numbers like these you would expect us Brits to be the largest consumers of gin. But that top spot belongs to the Philippines with over 25 million cases consumed annually.

So with that in mind how does one navigate ones way through the myriad different styles, labels? Here is some information which will hopefully guide you to choosing the best gin for you


Styles of Gin

London dry

London Dry Gin doesn’t need to be made in London – instead, it is considered to be a style guideline. Expect big hits of Juniper and citrus. If you see London dry gin on the label you can be assured that is has had no added sugar, colour or other flavours added to it. This however is not necessarily an indication of quality.

Old Tom

Old Tom Gin originated in the 18th century, and is generally a rounder and sweeter style with bags more citrus than London Dry Gin.


Where it all started. This is the precursor to British Gin, made in Holland but very different in style. Flavour wise this is not dissimilar to a light whisky with undertones of malt, spice and of course Juniper.

 NINS or Neo Gins

These new gins of other flavours at the forefront. One could argue that perhaps because Juniper is no longer at the forefront of the palate are they still gin? We think some of them still do qualify but other brands are certainly pushing the boundary of “What makes a Gin”

Gin Liqueur

Although seemingly only just hitting the radars of the average consumer these have been around for a long time and very often produced at home with the likes of homemade sloe gin being a particular favourite. However, there are a whole slew of other flavours from Mulberry, Peach and Hibiscus to the infamous raspberries and unicorns.

Sky Wave Gin

This month we’ve been doing a little work with Sky Wave Gin. We were impressed by the 42% Abv and the dry finish which in our opinion is unusual for the Pink Gin category. We loved the fresh raspberry and rhubarb flavour which we found worked really well in a Ramos. So good was the combination that we decided to create a video for it. If you enjoy watching it please check out our Youtube channel Mixologygroupuk for this and all our other videos.

Cloud 9

50ml Sky Wave Raspberry and Rhubarb

25ml Lemon juice

20ml Rhubarb syrup

5ml Orange flower water

1 egg white

25ml single cream


Shake all ingredients hard over cubed ice and pour into a glass with no ice

Top with cream soda