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A GUIDE TO GIN BOTANICALS

Some people would describe gin as a neutral spirit. At its most basic, that might be true as when you look at how gin is made, it starts with grain and water which is fermented and then distilled. 

However, each and every gin producer uses a variety of ingredients to infuse the alcohol and generate unique and complex flavour profiles. Collectively, these ingredients are known as botanicals.

In this gin botanicals guide, we reveal what gin botanicals are by exploring everything from pungent juniper berries to warming nutmeg and cinnamon. Armed with all this new knowledge, next time you pour yourself a Beefeater Gin, try and see if you can pinpoint which botanicals we’ve used.

what are the botanicals in gin?

The four main botanicals in gin are juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root and orris root. However, there are so many different herbs, spices, fruits, roots, flowers, and other botanicals that can be used to create delicious gin flavours. Let’s take a look at the botanicals in gin in more detail.

juniper berries

Gin isn’t gin without juniper berries. We mean this literally: the legal definition of the spirit states that it must be flavoured with juniper berries. However, there is no stipulation on how strong their flavour must be. This means that in some gins, the juniper notes are big and bold whereas in others, the juniper simply lingers in the background to allow other botanicals to steal the show.

Juniper berries come from the juniper tree, a coniferous plant native to Europe, Asia, and North America. As a result, their flavour is piney with a touch of fruitiness and spice, and they lend a distinctively crisp and refreshing taste to gin.

coriander seeds

The second most important botanical in gin, coriander seeds are derived from the coriander plant, which is native to regions spanning from southern Europe to southwestern Asia. Their flavour can vary significantly depending on where they come from, although coriander seeds generally contribute citrusy, spicy, and slightly floral notes to gin, enhancing its complexity and adding depth to its flavour profile.

angelica root

Angelica root is an important player in the gin game as it acts as a binding agent, helping to harmonise the flavours of other botanicals. It adds earthy and herbal undertones to gin, contributing to its overall balance. Angelica root is obtained from the Angelica archangelica plant, primarily found in northern Europe and Asia.

orris root

Orris root has a perfumed, floral, and slightly woody aroma. It serves as a fixative, binding the flavours and aromas of other botanicals together while imparting a delicate floral note to gin. Orris root comes from the iris plant, particularly Iris germanica and Iris pallida, which are native to Europe and western Asia. For gin production, three to four-year-old plants are harvested and then stored for up to three years to allow the flavours to develop. Before it can be used, orris root must be ground into a powder as it is very hard.

black pepper

Black pepper is a flowering vine native to South India, however, it is now cultivated in various tropical regions around the world. Most of us know what freshly ground black pepper tastes like as it is one of the most common ingredients used to season savoury dishes. When it comes to gin, black pepper adds a subtle spiciness and warmth which complements other botanicals while providing a little kick to the finish.

cardamom

The cardamom pod is a spice that comes from plants belonging to the genera Elettaria and Amomum, native to India, Nepal, and Bhutan. The pods, which can be green or black, contain many small black seeds. Green cardamom has a sweeter and softer eucalyptus flavour meaning it is more commonly used in gin production whereas black cardamom delivers more smoky and minty notes. Cardamom also adds depth and warmth to the spirit.

cinnamon or cassia

Cinnamon is derived from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees, while cassia comes from related species. Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, while cassia is primarily sourced from China and Indonesia. Both cinnamon and cassia impart warm, sweet, and spicy flavours to gin, reminiscent of those found in freshly baked cinnamon rolls. They add richness and complexity to the spirit, enhancing its overall aroma and taste.

citrus

Citrus fruit is cultivated worldwide and includes lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit. Citrus peels contribute bright, zesty, and refreshing flavours to gin, adding a pleasant tang and balancing the spirit’s other botanical elements. We use lemon peel and Seville orange peel in our London Dry Gin to create strong notes of citrus that harmonise perfectly with the bold juniper.

almond

Almonds can be sweet or bitter. Both are used in gin but need to be ground before use to release the essential oils that are pivotal to providing flavour. Almond adds a subtle nuttiness and sweetness to gin, reminiscent of marzipan.

liquorice

Liquorice root comes from the Glycyrrhiza glabra plant, primarily cultivated in regions of Asia and southern Europe. Liquorice root contributes a sweet, earthy, and slightly spicy flavour to gin. It can also add a subtle hint of anise-like aroma, which adds extra appeal. It’s commonly used to produce Old Tom gin which is known for its sweetness compared to other types of gin.

nutmeg

Nutmeg is the seed of the nutmeg tree, native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia. It’s another spice that contributes to gin with warming nutty, sweet, and earthy flavours and an aromatic scent.

lavender

Floral flavours can create interesting gin profiles. Lavender, which is known for its purple buds and belongs to the mint family, lends a floral and herbaceous aroma to gin, with delicate hints of sweetness. It is powerful, however, so tends to be used sparingly as a way to balance strong citrus or peppery botanicals.

tea

Many of us appreciate a morning brew, but when tea is used in gin, it delivers an entirely different experience than when combined in a mug with hot water and milk. The taste it imparts depends on whether green or black tea leaves are used, but generally, tea adds a subtle bitterness, floral notes, and astringency to gin.

fruits

Various fruits can be used in gin production, including berries, apples, pears, and tropical fruits, depending on the desired profile. We have a range of flavoured gins including Rhubarb and Cranberry and Blackberry which use natural fruit flavours to add a delightful twist to our classic gin recipe.

Of course, the list above doesn’t include every botanical that is used to create gin. There are hundreds more including the likes of ginger, cucumber, saffron and thyme to name a few. It is the combination of botanicals that makes each gin so unique. 

Our founder, James Burrough, created our gin recipe in the 19th century by carefully choosing which botanicals to include and today, it remains virtually unchanged. You can experience Beefeater’s botanicals by enjoying our gin neat or by creating some delicious gin cocktails

Blood Orange Gin & Tonic cocktail recipe - Beefeater Gin

Cócteles

Blood Orange Gin & Tonic

Beginner Cocktails

Bitter Cocktails

Pink Lady cocktail recipe - Beefeater Pink Gin

Cócteles

Pink Lady

Intermediate Cocktails

Sweet Cocktails

pink 75 cocktail

Cócteles

Pink French 75

Beginner Cocktails

Sweet Cocktails

beefeaterdry gt 4x5 d aspect ratio 735 735

Cócteles

Beefeater Gin & Tonic

Beginner Cocktails

Bitter Cocktails

beefeaterdry negroni 4x5 c aspect ratio 735 735

Cócteles

Beefeater Negroni

Beginner Cocktails

Bitter Cocktails