In a previous post I went through what goes in gin, but each style is made in a different way.
The most basic style is compound gin, which is made by adding natural or artificial oils and flavours from juniper and botanicals to neutral spirit. This style is generally frowned about by serious gin drinkers, however Professor Cornelius Ampleforth Bathtub Gin is changing all that by creating a very high quality and delicious compound gin.
The more recognised style is distilled gin. This can be made by vapor or maceration. The vapor technique involves passing the vapor of the neutral spirit through dried juniper and botanicals. The maceration technique consists of soaking the botanicals in neutral spirit until the desired flavour is achieved then distilling the spirit to bind the flavours.
Any distilled gin can be called ‘distilled gin’ according to EU naming standards and additives such as sugar and flavourings can be added. Distilled gin with no additives can be called London gin; it does not have to be produced in London.
The other historical style is Plymouth gin. Only gin made in Plymouth can be called Plymouth gin. Plymouth is less dry than London gin and a little softer and to my palate more a slight flavour of the sea, but that might be my overactive imagination. Plymouth also make Navy Strength gin which comes in at a whopping 57% ABV which apparently is the proof that will not ruin gunpowder if it is accidentally spilt on it.
As I mentioned when I taste-tested Aviation, there is a new style emerging, New Western Dry gin. While not officially recognised in the same way as London and Plymouth, this style is used to describe gins that allow juniper to share the starring role with other flavours and botanicals. While London and Plymouth are different, juniper is clearly the dominant flavour. Western Dry is more democratic allowing other traditional and non-traditional flavours to shine.
After plowing your way through all those rather dull facts, you have probably earned yourself a gin. Make it London, Plymouth, New Western or just distilled, doesn’t really matter as long as you enjoy it!