Gin is a distilled, neutral spirit made from grains (usually wheat or rye), cereals, natural sugars and other carbohydrates. It is distilled at least twice, first in a continuous still to neutralize the flavor, then a second time in a pot still with any number and variety of flavoring agents.
These botanicals commonly include cardamom, licorice, caraway, ginger, cinnamon, anise, angelica, lemon and orange peel, cassia bark, orris (iris) root, bergamot and cocoa. However, the evergreen juniper berry gives gin its signature flavor.
Fast Facts About Gin
Gin was created in Holland in about 1650 to treat stomach complaints.
The name gin comes from the word for juniper (genievre).
The Dutch worker called the ?sniffer? saw to it that returned gin jugs were not soiled.
Some claim England's love affair with gin began when British soldiers brought back the "Dutch courage" from Holland.
Others ascribe England's gin appreciation to the ascent of Dutchman William of Orange to their throne. He hindered the import of liquor from all countries but Holland, especially targeting his enemy France's brandy. He also gave English citizens the right to brew their own gin with an easily procured permit.
By the 1720's one in four houses in London was producing and/or selling gin partially due to the fact that it was safer to drink than the water. Public drunkenness was a problem to say the least. By 1751 legislation was put into place to end this "gin madness".
The term "London Dry Gin" originated to distinguish itself from the sweet variety. Since dry gin was more highly distilled, the sweeteners added to mask impurities were no longer needed.
Foreigners drank tonic water while visiting the tropics because it contains quinine, a cure for malaria. Mixing it with gin helped make this ?tonic? easier to swallow; thus a beautiful partnership was formed.
The "cocktail hour" may have come from the British fondness for cooling off after a hot day in the tropics by drinking a gin and tonic.
A number of gins are 90+ proof (compared to most commercial vodkas at 80). Check each brand's label to determine the strength.
Sloe gin includes the flavoring of the small plum-like sloe berry. The term "sloe-eyed beauty" also comes from this fruit.
In England, gin is also known as Schiedam and Hollands.
"Bathtub gin" became popular during the depression because it didn't have to be inconveniently oak-cask aged as other spirits did.
[archaic geneva, from Du. from O.Fr. from Lat.,=juniper], spirituous liquor distilled chiefly from fermented cereals, malted and unmalted, and flavored with juniper berries. It originated in Holland (thus the name Hollands, or Holland, gin) but is now manufactured also in other countries, chiefly England and the United States. A type of gin developed in England is known as London gin; it is more highly distilled than Holland gin. Dry gin has been highly rectified. Old Tom gin is sweetened for use as a liqueur. Sloe gin is flavored with fresh sloes instead of juniper.