Gin is believed to have been around since the 17th century and was formerly regarded as a cheap spirit in Britain. Today, it is one of the world’s favourite drinks and a choice of bartenders due to its dynamic flavour profile, which is produced from infused local and rare botanicals. All gins contain at least one botanical – juniper. These berries offer a piney taste that some non-gin drinkers find overbearing, and they are typically accompanied with fragrant botanicals including coriander, angelica, citrus, cassia, orris, the root of an iris, among others. Peppery spices such as cubeb, black peppercorns, and grains of paradise, as well as warm spices such as nutmeg and ginger are prevalent in gin. While it would be ridiculous to have a thousand gins that all taste the same, thankfully there are those that seek out uncommon botanicals to add something fresh to the category.
Understanding the core botanicals
The most significant botanical in gin is juniper berries. They are responsible for the piney, woody, and somewhat sweet flavour of your preferred spirit.
These are popular botanicals in gin. They’re also known as angelica root, and they give gins a pleasant taste. This flavour is frequently characterised as comparable to aniseed but without the strength.
Coriander seeds are coriander plant seeds that can be utilised whole or crushed. They provide a flowery, lemony flavour to gin and are used in a variety of different recipes, including Mexican and Indian cuisine.
Gin contains orris root, which gives it a flowery fragrance. It is derived from the iris plant, which has been used in the production of perfume for millennia.
The flavour of liquorice root is sweet, earthy, and somewhat bitter. It is used to add sweetness to many recipes, but it also has therapeutic benefits.
It is the scientific name for Myrica gale, often known as bog myrtle or sweet bush. It is indigenous to the British Isles and has a rich, fragrant smell that lends itself well to gin.
How do botanicals affect the taste of Gin?
Gin is initially fermented using the materials that make up the spirit’s foundation. These frequently include grains, sugar, beets, grapes, potatoes, or other agricultural goods. Botanicals may then be added to the gin in a variety of ways. The most common gin botanicals include oranges, lemons, and limes, which add a citrus fruit flavour to the gin. When tasting the gin, this might be difficult to distinguish because other botanicals such as juniper or coriander can also create citrus-like tones. These flavours are ideal for a summer cocktail since they add a refreshing touch to the drink. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are more suited for winter drinks. Nutmeg has a sweet and earthy flavour, and when added to gin, it adds a noticeable heat as well as a lasting, spicy flavour that is followed by sweetness towards the end. Cassia, a component of the cinnamon family, is another typical complement to an excellent gin mix. Despite its pungent aroma, cassia bark is slightly sweeter than cinnamon. Both of these spices are frequently used in gin, although only in small amounts. As a plant, it imparts a rich base note with a sense of familiarity to the aroma. Its scent is fiery and spicy, evoking images of distant market areas, while preserving an earthy fragrance and a sweet finish reminiscent of liquorice.
Standing out from the crowd
A producer may wish to differentiate himself apart from other producers for a multitude of reasons. One important cause is regionality. Almost all gins begin with a neutral spirit as a canvas, with botanicals acting as the colours. This spirit is often produced in huge quantities in an industrial unit. When the base of your gin is manufactured anonymously, terroir is no longer a concern. For example, in India people love the taste of spices, so producers that use ginger or cardamom to enhance the flavour of their Gin are doing very well, similarly, if the brand hails from Italy, a small hit of basil infused in it will help bring the Gin and its story to life. Botanicals are frequently used dried and readily transportable, so even if your gin was not created in the country, you want it to represent, your nose and tongue will almost definitely not notice the difference. Another reason for using exotic botanicals is simple experimenting that yielded unexpectedly pleasant results. Even with the most popular botanicals, there are several ways to customize a recipe, and there are always some who want to push the limits of creativity.
Exploring unusual botanicals
When mixed with other botanicals, rhubarb adds sweetness and delicate sour flavours to Gin. Rhubarb Gin by Warner Edwards is somewhat lemony with aromas of stewed rhubarb. It pairs well with juniper and other spicy botanicals. Make a Gin Sour or a Dry Martini if you want it sweeter, since the rhubarb will show through and provide ample sweetness.
Cascara is a coffee plant fruit that is often discarded in order to obtain the highly sought-after bean within. When distilled with other traditional botanicals, it imparts a fascinating earthiness. Try Memo Cascara Gin to taste this unique botanical.
The cream was meticulously distilled to form the principal ingredient in Worship St. Whistling Shop’s Cream Gin, which was inspired by accounts of Cream Gins in old bartender manuals.
While seaweed is popular in several cuisines, it is less well-known in beverages. When applied correctly, it imparts a maritime crispness to the flavor profile. Dá Mhile Seaweed Gin is a good optionif you wish to have a ocean inspired drink. It’s prepared with other botanicals and goes well with fish.
Yes, Ants! Nordic Food Labs collaborated with Cambridge Distillery and they discovered that the chemical pheromones used by red wood ants to communicate converted into beautiful scents when distilled after years of research.
Sea buckthorn contains 15 times more vitamin C than an orange and is rich in oils. Gins like Napue and Rock Rose benefit from their fruity and crisp taste. Another berry-like fruit is the Rowan Berry, which has a more delicate flavor. Rowan berry is widely featured in Scottish gins such as Caorunn Gin.
Unusual Gins you have to try!
Theodore Pictish Gin
Theodore Pictish Gin, an homage to a tribe said to be one of Scotland’s very first immigrants, has 16 botanicals, including some delightfully odd examples like as pine, damask rose, pomelo, and bourbon vetiver. To add to the mystery and joy of this expression, these components were distilled in an antique charentais still.
Flavour Profile: Damask rose and oolong tea combine to create a flowery scent with notes of citrus pomelo and crisp pine needles, smoky bourbon vetiver, and touches of vanilla.
Dr. Squid Gin
The Pocketful of Stones Distillery in Penzance created this gin with real squid ink! It’s a popular culinary component, so it’s no surprise to see it make its way into the realm of gin. You won’t be shocked to hear that this is a savory presentation with a seaside vibe and a few hints of citrus and spice. It also comes in a lovely copper flask carved with various flora and animals. If you add some tonic water, your drink will turn brilliant pink.
Flavour Profile: Fresh lemon zest, meadowsweet, savoury kitchen herbs woody juniper, a touch of sea breeze, spring blossom and pine.
Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin
The Shed distillery hasn’t been operating long, but it’s already produced some fantastically delectable spirits, including its first Irish whisky, Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Inaugural Release, and this fantastic Irish gin, Gunpowder Gin. It gets its name from its hallmark botanical, gunpowder tea, which is steeped with lemon, lime, and fresh grapefruit and distilled with juniper, angelica, orris, caraway, coriander, meadowsweet, cardamom, and star anise.
Flavour Profile: Bright citrus and green tea notes that are complemented by the spices.
Hendricks Neptunia Gin
Hendrick’s highlights “coastal” botanicals in Neptunia, their next expression from the Cabinet of Curiosities release in 2022. The gin is infused with sea kelp, coastal thyme, and lime, in addition to the brand’s traditional cucumber and rose botanicals, and is inspired by the sights and fragrances of Scotland’s Ayrshire shore.
Flavour Profile: A modest juniper intensity which leads to a very lengthy finish with coriander and citrus flavours.
Gin Gin is the first and only hemp gin in India. That, too, was not by design, but rather the result of a successful experiment. Shubham tossed in hemp when experimenting with different ingredients to make the gin unique, and it turned out better than imagined, so here we are with this beautiful hemp gin. It is distilled with nine botanicals, including bespoke juniper from the Himalayas. Coriander, lavender, rosemary, caraway seeds, cinnamon, lemongrass, butterfly pea flower, and, of course, hemp are among the others.
Sakura, or Japanese cherry blossoms, are a timeless symbol for our transient existence. With Japanese origins and a distinct Goan spirit, this robust gin is blended with cherry blossoms and nine distinct botanicals.