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Gin: The Production

Gin is a white spirit flavored with juniper berries and a handful of botanicals. It originated in the 1600's when a Dutch chemist in Leiden, The Netherlands created a juniper and spice flavored medicinal spirit to treat kidney and stomach diseases.

Gin became extremely popular in England, when the government allowed unlicensed gin production simultaneously with the high taxes on all imported spirits.

This was the start of the Gin Craze. The production of gin increased six times that of beer and because of its cheapness it became popular among the poor. Needless to say, this led to an enormous increase in alcoholism. However, with the introduction of the Gin Act in 1751, only distilleries were allowed to sell gin to licensed retailers. Since then the consumption of gin has been regulated and the production spread to Belgium, Germany and the United States. Gin might have originated in The Netherlands, but it’s most popular style is in England. The harsh, sweetened styles of the early 1700's Gin gave way to a cleaner style called Dry Gin. This style of gin became identifiable with the city of London, hence the term “London Dry Gin”.

Nowadays, Gin has become the darling of cocktail drinkers. London Dry Gin, with its subtle flavor made it easy to mix and it quickly became an important ingredient in a host of fashionable drinks, most popularly the Martini. Many other gin cocktails have been invented to reflect the dizzy and sophisticated society which created them.

Gin Production
The majority of gin varieties are made from corn, barley and other grains. These raw materials are mixed with water and yeast for the fermentation process. The resulting pure spirit after fermentation can undergo a distillation, percolation or maceration process, each one giving the final product a different character and quality.

For the maceration process, some producers combine the pure spirit with juniper berries, herbs and aromatic substances and redistill the mixture. This is done when there is a necessity for a higher quantity of aromatic substances. There is also the option for percolation process. During this process a basket filled with juniper berries, herbs and aromatic substances are placed over the tank. By increasing the temperature of the spirit, vapors rise up and pass through the herbs while extracting its aroma. When it condenses, it falls back and mixes with the pure spirit. Among the three methods for the production of gin, the most important one is distillation. There are two distillation techniques, batch and continuous. Batch distillation is done by using traditional stills, where the liquid produced by one still is put into another and redistilled. This process produces a higher alcohol by volume and purer product. Continuous distillation is done by using stills that allow a continuous processing of the raw matters.

Whichever method the producer chooses, the dominant flavor should be of Juniper Berries.