Genever is the precursor to modern gin: pot-stilled from malt in the Netherlands and Flanders. Today genever is a geographically-protected name. Genever is pot distilled from rye and barley with juniper added in second distillation. The gin sling and the gin cocktail, both made with genever, were incredibly popular in the U.S. during colonial times.
In the 1850s, slightly sweetened Old Tom gin from England became the gin of the moment. Legend has it that in the 19th century, English taverns would post plaques in the shape of a cat outside. Between the paws of the cat, there was a tube and drinkers would deposit a penny in the cat’s mouth, then a bartender inside would pour a shot of gin through the tube into the waiting mouth.
In the 1880s, London Dry Gin became more popular than the Old Tom variety. This variety is drier, less aromatic and not sweet.
Plymouth gin is exclusively from Plymouth, England. This variety has its own unique style, with less juniper than other gins. Plymouth gin is distilled in a special carterhead still. This gin is sold at 41.2% abv as well as at “navy strength” which has 57% abv.
Sloe gin, which is red in color, is another English-made gin that is produced using sloe berries, which are a relative of the plum, as opposed to juniper.
“Bathtub gin” is not manufactured in a distillery but is a sort of DIY project carried out by some at home. This not-so-stylish variety earned its name because of the way its made. At-home distillers purchase full strength neutral spirit and then dilute and flavor the gin with juniper syrup, using a bathtub as a sort of a primitive maceration vessel. This process is used to disguise the wretched flavor of the sharp neutral spirit.
An emerging style of gin now referred to as New Western Dry gin is beginning to gain in popularity in the U.S. with distillers diversifying the sorts of botanicals used in gin production. Aviation and Hendricks are examples of this variety.
[Link to this Entry]