Among the diversity of the range of spirits, gin is a chapter in itself, as it stands out with its herbal value and wide applicability when used in mixed drinks. Gin is given its typical taste by juniper berries, in addition to other flavors used by the manufacturer.
Gin belongs to the category of traditional spirits (the basis is pure grain alcohol), namely stronger spirits, as it contains at least 38% ABV, but can also contain up to 55% ABV.
The word gin has its roots in the Dutch jenever and the French genièvre, both of which denote junipers. Gin first appeared in the Middle Ages, where it was prescribed and used as an herbal medicine, and later, due to its affordability and low price, it was often used for drunkenness purposes.
TYPES OF GIN
Given that the beginnings of gin date back to the 13th century, it is not surprising that quite a few different types of this very popular drink have developed to this day.
These include the following:
- London dry gin,
- Old Tom gin,
- Modern dry gin
- Cold compound gin,
- Sloe gin,
- Navy strength gin,
- Bathtub gin
- New western style gin (American style).
GIN AND BRINJEVEC
In Slovenia, there is a common confusion when recognizing gin and brinjevec (traditional Slovenian brandy made of juniper). Many people mistakenly think that brinjevec and gin are one and the same drink, although this is not the case. They differ in quite a few important details:
Method of production: Brinjevec is obtained by distillation of fermented juniper berries, whereas gin is made by distillation of already obtained alcohol, to which various natural aromas are added, among them juniper berries.
Quantity of juniper: To make one litre of gin we need between 25-40g of juniper berries, on the other hand we need as much as 6-8kg of juniper berries in order to produce one litre of brinjevec.
Ingredients: Only juniper berries are used to make brinjevec, in contrast, any number of natural flavors can be used in gin, the most common along with juniper are: coriander, angelica root, citrus peels, liquorice, cardamom, flower petals...
Hundreds of herbs, spices, flowers and other parts of plants, are used in the world to create the aroma of gin. These ingredients, which vary significantly from country to country, we call botanicals.
In addition to juniper berries, the most commonly used herbs and spices in gin are:
- Coriander seeds,
- Angelica root,
- Lemon or orange peel,
- Flower petals,
- Different types of pepper,
- Chinese cinnamon,
- Orris root,
HYSTORY OF GIN
Gin is a clear spirit that is usually not aged. It evolved from Genever, a traditional spirit of Belgium and the Netherlands. Just like Genever, gin is given the typical aroma and taste of juniper berries. Thanks to Belgian and Flemish traditions, we also use other flavors, such as various fruits, herbs and spices, in order to flavor gin, but we should never miss the juniper berries, which give this type of drink its character.
Juniper berries have historically appeared in various medical applications, so Genever was originally used to relieve stomach problems, just like brinjevec (traditional Slovenian brandy made out of juniper). Very quickly, however, Genever began to be used for its stunning values, earning it the name “Dutch courage” as it was drunk by Dutch soldiers before they went into battle, for its calming effects on soldiers entering the battlefield.
The beginnings of gin production began as early as the Middle Ages, with its predecessor Genever dating back to the 13th century. The popularity of gin has spread across the UK, after the ruler of Dutch Republic, William of Orange, occupied the British throne in the 17th Century.
After the English government allowed unlicensed gin production and at the same time imposing a heavy duty on all imported spirits, gin consumption in England skyrocketed. This period is known as the "Gin Craze". Low price of gin compared to other drinks available, resulted in overall rise of popularity among all wealth groups. That is why most people today think gin originated from England.
In tropical British colonies, gin was used to cover the bitter taste of quinine. Quinine (a medication found in Cinchona bark) at that time was the only known cure for malaria. It was dissolved in carbonated water and mixed with gin. This is the drink that we today know as gin tonic. Who would have thought, right?
Gin Tonic or Gin Tonik (in Slovenian) is one of the simplest cocktails in the world of drinks. But despite the very simple recipe, mistakes often occur if we do not follow certain rules.
Among the key details that will affect whether you will be happy and satisfied with any gin and tonic recipe are the following:
Quality of the gin: We recommend high quality craft gins. Inquire about your drink before purchase.
Quality of the Tonic: Given that tonic makes up more than half of a drink, buying a quality gin simply won't be enough to produce a proper gin and tonic. We recommend using neutral tonics, which don't contain much sugar, as this will only overshadow the aromas and flavours of the gin.
Glasses: Bubbles significantly influence the aromas and flavours that are released into the gin and tonic. They also make sure that aromas come forward in larger glasses. Therefore, we recommend lower and wider glasses or balloon shaped glasses (bulbous shape on a stem). It is also important to first cool the glass and fill it with ice, as this will keep the bubbles in the drink longer.
Complementary herbs and spices: We recommend using botanicals that are already present in the recipe of the gin used. In our IMAGINE dry gin , these can be cranberries, red & black-currants, mountain pine, juniper berries or thyme.
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ABOUT KARAKTER DISTILLERY
Karakter distillery, the only "official" distillery in Bohinj,
was founded in 2016 by three indigenous people from Bohinj,
friends since childhood.
Today, in addition to the distillation of gin and other craft spirits,
we organize live music events at our bar next to Lake Bohinj
and help develop the culinary scene in Slovenia.