First there was Genever, the juniper-based national spirit of the Netherlands from which Gin gets its name.
Genever still exists today in young and old forms and is delicious unto itself. Gin first exploded in popularity during the Gin Craze in the first half of the 18th century, not because it was delicious, but rather it was affordable and accessible. Nowadays, and since the turn of the century, Gin has found new heights with spirits producers exploring and introducing more exciting and exotic flavours.
With Gin comes juniper, and is a must for gin to be… well gin. The most familiar and popular style is London Dry, with Juniper leading the charge and in the driver’s seat – a piney, tangy, and often a little citrusy style that most associate as the synonymous profile of modern gin. With the renewed interest and exploration of the category, producers began pushing the boundaries, with some producers even moving away from juniper to lead with other flavours.
Inevitably, with the coming of what is essentially Gin Craze part 2, other white spirit producers have turned to the enormous range of aromatic and flavourful botanicals and now you can find botanical vodkas, rums and even non-alcoholic beverages in your local off-license.
Defying the Category
So what other botanical spirits are out there and what’s new?
Well botanicals are nothing new to booze. In fact, the advent of botanical alcohol began as medicinal concoctions. The sex-glutted nobles of ancient Rome steeped their fruits and herbs in wine for restorative properties, and later the monks of the middle ages began using spirits instead of wine, sometimes using upwards of 130 herbs and spices! Some of these have stood the test of time, albeit modernly refined, like Benedictine and Chartreuse and even mulled wine and sangria.
We’re at a turning point where gin has re-exposed an appetite for botanical booze, but not necessarily the Juniper-led spirit we’ve all come to know and love. Now we have cross-category defying botanical spirits leading the charge. No/Low Alcohol botanical spirits, like our Give & Take, experimental koji spirits, botanical poitín, and exotic native spirits are just some of what we’re seeing today.
Exciting times lie ahead for botanical boozers. It seems that juniper may have found a new place in the back seat but it’s gin we have to thank.
That’s all from me on Gin. Looking forward to seeing you all at Garden Sessions this Saturday to celebrate World Gin Day, where you can taste all of Stillgarden’s botanical and fruitful gins. You’ll even find a limited release gin made exclusively for the occasion!
Interested in making your own unique botanical spirt? Visit our Distilling Academy and design your own personal recipe with over 120 botanicals to choose from ranging from the traditional to the obscure. You’ll leave with a your own bottle of spirit (full strength but you can also make a low or no abv) distilled by you!