Gin is a liquor flavored with juniper berries. When you think of gin, you most likely picture a London Dry gin, such as Tanqueray. The world of gin is extremely versatile, however. In many cocktails, using the right type of gin is essential. I have at times stocked as many as five different gins in my home bar (though this is not usually practical, economically).
Depending who you ask, there are somewhere between three and six different categories of gin In my recipes, I try to keep my definitions broader to leave more room for interpretation and experimentation.
London Dry Gin
This is the most commonly-known type of gin. In London Dry gin, the juniper flavor is dominant. It’s typically the least sweet of the gins. Common brands include Tanqueray, Beefeater, and Bombay Sapphire.
Tanqueray is crisp with a bold, juniper-dominant flavor. This stands up well to other strong flavors. Try it in a negroni.
Beefeater is versatile (and affordable) option. It is the go-to for many bartenders. You can use it in just about anything that calls for a london dry gin.
Old Tom Gin
Old Tom gin, while similar, is notably sweeter than a London Dry gin. It works well in a martinez.
Look for Hayman’s or Ransom brands.
For something completely different, turn to Genever (or Jenever or Dutch Style) Gin. This is the oldest style of gin. It still uses juniper, but it is balanced with a wide array of other botanical flavors. Genever gins may include flavors of vanilla, coriander, flowers, nutmeg, anise, or orange. But the predominant flavor is often malt — perhaps an unexpected experience after the familiar world of Tanqueray and Hendrick’s.
In the European Union, only gins made in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, or Germany may be labelled as genever. The names New American or International style may be applied to similar gins produced elsewhere.
Bols Genever is a well-known Genever-style gin.
Some gins simply defy categorization. Here are a few notable brands.
Plymouth gin has much softer flavors than most other gins, with a more pronounced citrus flavor. It does best mixed with other delicate flavors. Plymouth gin is dryer than London Dry gin, but has a stronger citrus flavor and a spicier finish.
Plymouth is unique enough I have given it its own tag.
Sometimes categorized as a “New Western Gin”, Aviation came to market in 2006 and has rocketed to global popularity in the years since. It has a soft juniper profile, but also lavender, anise, sarsaparilla, and orange peel.
This is my personal favorite gin, though it certainly does not work in every gin cocktail.
If you have Aviation available, try a pilot’s license.
Hendrick’s is another spirit that helped the modern rebirth of gin. Cucumber is the dominant flavor, but it is balanced out with a blend of other botanicals and citrus.