If there’s one spirit that has seen something of a revival in recent years, it’s gin.
The traditional G&T has re-established itself as one of the most popular drinks combinations in the UK, with 47m bottles worth £1.2bn sold last year alone. According to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), that’s enough to make 1.32 BILLION gin and tonics!
So why the sudden return to popularity? Many people believe that the increase in sales of locally made beers and wines has also delivered a knock-on effect to craft spirits. The new ‘hipster’ generation is searching for a drink that delivers more than is offered by the faceless international corporations, instead opting for a spirit that has been crafted by individuals or a family business.
That’s where gin comes in.
With its huge variety of tastes and flavour combinations, gin is not only delicious to drink but it’s an alcoholic tipple that can help to solve digestive issues, ease joint pain and even help to maintain a healthy liver when consumed in moderation.
A brief history of gin
Originally developed as a medicine in the 1600s, gin was distributed by Dutch chemists to the masses for the treatment of ailments like gout and dyspepsia. When consumed in plentiful quantities, the symptoms of these conditions would lessen significantly.
It didn’t take long for gin to grow in popularity once it crossed the channel, particularly in the early 18th century. Soldiers and colonials living in malaria-prone countries also used it to mask the bitter flavour of the antimalarial quinine they took - a concoction that ultimately developed into the gin and tonic drink we enjoy today.
With mixology having entering the modern-day mainstream, gin cocktails of all ages and backgrounds are now being knocked back in bars across the world.
What makes a gin a gin?
Broadly speaking, there are two stages involved in the creation of a gin.
The first is where the base spirit is made; the second adds in the desired flavours from berries, seeds, roots, herbs, fruits and spices which are collectively known as ‘botanicals’.
All gin starts life as a ‘neutral’ spirit, usually made from grains. At this stage of the process, it is basically pure ethanol! Until the various flavours and water are added through a process called re-distillation, this isn’t gin you’d want to drink.
Once the neutral spirit has been created, this is where a gin distiller has options - they can choose to add whatever botanicals they wish for that perfect flavour. Different distillers will also use different distillation methods to extract all the various flavours from their chosen botanicals, not to mention the fact that the botanical combinations will vary significantly from gin to gin.
There is one rule with gin that all distillers must stick to, however. In order for a gin to be a gin, it must take its predominant flavour from juniper berries. Other than that, it’s free reign!
Popular gin botanicals
With a flavour base derived from juniper, every gin distiller will use their own secret botanicals recipe to enhance their product.
Although a distiller can use almost anything they wish in their gin, the most commonly used botanicals include almond, lemon, orange peel, coriander and fennel, angelica and anise.
There is obviously huge scope for experimentation with ingredients, but popular brands of gin will routinely use the same botanicals for a consistent flavour. The selection of botanicals included in a London Dry gin for example include juniper, coriander and angelica.
Keeping a gin brand consistent can be very challenging, not only because of the complex recipes but also due to the natural variability of the botanicals used. A master gin distiller must continue to sample specimens from individual crops as botanicals can vary dramatically, even from within a single crop.
Our very own Redh Gin
As part of our collection of in-house spirits, we are delighted to include our very own Redh gin!
This is a truly unique alcoholic tipple that draws on our local heritage and combines a fantastic range of ingredients together to create a delicious, refreshing gin - something we are so proud to call our own.
Created in collaboration with our expert producers, the Redh gin is a drink that carries with it a tangible association to Haslemere and traditional British roots.
“Redh gin and vodka are both made in small batches using the highest quality ingredients, but most importantly the purest of water direct from the source of the ancient River Wey on our Weyborne Estate’, says Neil Patterson, our accomplished spirits producer from the RED Distillery.
“My personal craftsmanship does come into play too, from experiences in Armagnac in France to distilling in the winelands of Stellenbosch; all culminating here in the distillery in West Sussex. I find the utmost balance is smoothness of spirit but also the excitement of freshness on the palate that allows these handcrafted bespoke products to be sipped over ice or served in your favourite cocktail or mixer.”
With so much care, attention and expertise combined in this very special gin, we definitely think a bottle should make its way into your shopping basket - it’s well worth a try!