Gin is a liquor flavored with juniper berries. When you think of gin, you most likely picture a London Dry gin, such as Tanqueray. Not all gins are created equal, however. In many cocktails, using the right type of gin is essential.
There are four general categories of gin. Some people will subdivide this further—in my recipes, I try to keep my definitions broader to leave more room for interpretation and experimentation.
If you want to get a good feel for any of these types of gin, use it in a martini.
London Dry Gin
This is the most commonly-known type of gin. In London Dry gin, the juniper flavor is dominant. It’ typically the least sweet of the gins. Common brands include Tanqueray, Beefeater, and Bombay Sapphire.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is 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. It often tastes more malty than other gins.
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.
Hendrick’s and Bols Genever are two well-known Genever-style gin.
Old Tom Gin
Old Tom gin is sweeter than a London Dry but has a more dominant juniper flavor than many Genever gins. It tends to fall in the middle of the road between the two.
Look for Hayman’s or Ransom brands.
Plymouth gin is dryer than London Dry gin, but has a stronger citrus flavor and a spicier finish. There is only one brand of Plymouth gin and it’s Plymouth.