There are a gins, and there are gins. Beyond the typical spirit in a Gin and Tonic, there are several styles of gin, each with their own back story and best means to enjoy this most versatile of spirit.
One of the oldest styles that pre-dates the London Dry gins that came along as tastes changed. To a modern palette it's somewhat sweet, but it's full flavoured, and the basis of the Martini's ancestor, the Martinez which deserves a comeback.
Named after the venerable distillery that's been operating since 1690 on the same site in that city. A personal favourite of mine, I enjoy it in a Dry Martini with a hint of Dolin Dry Vermouth and a lemon twist. It's a subtle gin.
Named for its production style - no added sugars or anything added after distillation, as opposed to an Old Tom gin - not the place. The most common style with household names. In Australia, gin isn't defined by any regulations like in the EU, but it's generally agreed the must-have botanical is juniper which must be very forward in the flavour profile, and then it's up to the distillers to work their magic.
Not often seen, but a type of production where botanicals or flavours are added to a neutral spirit, not distilled. Some popular pink gins are made this way.
The most dynamic category that has emerged in the past 15 or so years, first in the US, then here, NZ and now everywhere. It covers most of the Australian gins that embrace new botanicals and flavours. Each will have its own flavour profile, some can be enjoyed neat on ice, with a dash of soda.
A very old style of gin that is delicious to sip on its own, or on ice. Made by steeping sloe berries in spirit with sugar added to bring out the flavour, there are a few available now on the market to choose from. Not super sweet, and quite delicious.
As the name suggests, this is gin is aged, usually for a few months, in a range of second-hand barrels like port or shiraz to lend extra complexity and flavour to the gins. The result might be described as a whisky-lite ... ideal on the rocks, or tall in a Highball.
Matches, gunpowder, sailors and gin, what could possible go wrong? This style of gin has an interesting history that involves the Royal Navy and them ensuring that the gin they ordered wasn't diluted by the suppliers ... so they asked for the spirit to be high proof - 57 per cent ABV - so it would ignite gunpowder if poured over it. A good Navy Strength gin is all about intensity of flavour, the higher alcohol means the spirit can carry a richer botanical flavour profile. Great for any gin forward cocktail.
- Phillip Jones, The Martini Whisperer