Here at TGB we often get asked how many different ‘types’ of gin there are. Well the legal answer in this country is probably three. Yes, just three. London gin, distilled gin and gin.
There are of course regional gins like Plymouth gin – only gins from Plymouth are allowed the title of Plymouth gin - but then there is only one gin from Plymouth, so it struggles to make it as a genre.
Mahon, the capital of Menorca, also has an EU denomination that guarantees the speciality of it's gin, in much the same way but again, there is but one – Xoriguer.
One can of course divide gin into notional categories such a floral or citrus led or spiced, but these are all very subjective and it’s not for me to define or justify those groupings now. For now I want to look at one classification that can be defined, as it is a benchmark that is affirmed by our friends in Brussels.
London Dry Gin.
Oddly this label does not necessarily mean you are drinking a gin from London. It doesn’t even mean it has been produced in England, let alone the UK. It does however mean that the gin you are drinking has had to reach a certain standard that adheres to some very particular rules; Rule 1 is that the gin must be produced from top quality alcohol. This is defined as not having more than 5 grams of methanol per hectoliter of 100% vol alcohol. That’s clean. What’s more, the alcohol must be of agricultural origin and all flavourings – the most predominant of which must be juniper – have to be natural and have to impart through distillation alone. Cold compounding does not cut it when it comes to London Dry Gin - that’s not to say you can not produce great gin that way - just look at the wonderful Bathtub gin!
Rule 2 Is that no additional sweetening may be added nor additional colouring. The final rule is that the only additional ingredient one may add is water and you have to be careful not to add to much as the final product must retain a strength of at least 37.5% to be classified as gin.
Whilst ensuring a superior level of quality, these rules can be interpreted to allow a broad range of flavour profiles within London Dry, from the award winning NB which focuses on the classic approach, to Opihr which incorporates botanicals from the orient and smells like my spice cupboard. London Dry is as varied and diverse as the city itself.