Gin is a high-alcohol spirit whose flavor is determined by its natural botanicals. The very core of this spirit is juniper and the taste needs to be predominant for it to be considered as gin. In addition to juniper berries, gin distillers have the freedom to choose their favorite botanicals.
With so much freedom afforded to gin distillers, it’s no wonder that there are so many different styles and brands of gin available today. It is this freedom that has enabled gin to become arguably the most diverse craft spirit in the world today.
Distillers can use a wide variety of botanicals or even add herbs and plants sourced from the nearby vegetation. For that reason, gin sometimes represents a specific location. However, there are some botanicals that will always be – and have always been – used. Learn How to Make Gin from our ditillers blog.
The following are the most popular botanicals used in gin production:
Most Popular Gin Ingredient Juniper
Juniper is the main botanical. In fact, the spirit can’t be considered as gin without the use of juniper. The aromatic and spicy taste of juniper berries is the signature note in all true gins. The word “gin” comes from the Dutch term “jenever”, whose English translation is juniper. Juniper has numerous varieties and is grown across the world.
Juniper was originally used as a spice and it was also celebrated for its medicinal properties. When it comes to taste, juniper has a pine-like flavor and the Christmas tree smell we so readily associate with gin.
Coriander refers to the dried fruits or seeds of the Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) plant, whose origins can be traced to southwest Asia, North Africa and southern Europe. Coriander adds spiciness, nuttiness and citrusy notes to distilled gin. It helps to complement the taste of juniper.
Gins also use angelica root, but there are certain gins that use the seeds or flowers instead. Angelica adds an earthy taste with a bitter finish when distilled.
Lemon is another common botanical in gins. It is also commonly used in the culinary world to add some flavor to foods and beverages. Gins use lemon peels to add a tart and fruity taste. Lemon peel brings zesty notes with some fresh flavor trailing.
Like lemon, it’s the orange peels that are commonly used as a botanical in gin. Adding dried orange peel adds citrus note and freshness, but some butter oranges are sometimes used in gin production as well.
Orris root is sourced from iris flowers. It adds woody and earthy notes. It is also a common ingredient in perfumes.
Cardamom is a common spice in Indian cuisine and belongs to the same category as ginger. Cardamom pods used in gin are green and have a slightly sweet and an intensely aromatic flavor.
Licorice root hails from India and southern Europe. It has a long-lasting sweet flavor. Licorice root neutralizes any bitter taste that comes from certain other botanicals and adds a more glutinous texture to gin.
The cassia tree is originally from China and belongs to the same category as cinnamon. Dried cassia bark is used in gin production and adds a sweet flavor with a peppery, licorice-like punch.
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