What is gin made from? The simple version; gin is a white spirit flavoured with juniper. Ethanol, neutral spirit or white spirit can be made from anything really, grain, potato, sugarcane, apples, grapes. Straight ethanol must be at least 96% pure alcohol. Most gin distilleries buy in their neutral spirit and this point. A very small number make their own neutral spirit.
At the gin distillery this neutral spirit is flavoured with juniper and other botanicals. To be gin juniper must be one of the flavourings, otherwise any botanical can be used. The botanicals can be added as compounds, or macerated and distilled, or vapour distilled.This gives the gin its style.
Flavour profiles of gin are similar to perfume with top note, middle notes and base notes which blend for a full flavour. Top notes are the most volatile flavours, meaning they evaporate very quickly, in gin the top notes are citrus and floral botanicals. Middle notes offer punchy flavour, juniper is a middle note along with spices like cardamom, cinnamon and cassia bark. Base notes are the earthy flavours that bind all the flavours together. They are often roots such as angelica root and orris root.
The botanicals are distilled into the neutral spirit in the makers chosen way. The result 96% gin which is mixed with water to the desired ABV. Most gin is 38-42% and anything over 56% is Navy Strength.
So that’s what goes in gin. Every gin is different, the distiller carefully selects and blends botanicals and choses the best water for their gin, but this is the basic outline. You can learn as much or as little as want, the gin will taste just as delicious.