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what is gin made from?

To most people’s eyes, a bottle of gin looks like, well, a bottle of gin – a crystal clear liquid inside an attractive receptacle. But what ingredients go into creating that liquid? There’s more to it than meets the eye.

We’re here to answer the intriguing question of what gin is made from, and dispel a few myths about what it’s definitely not made from along the way.

 

what are the three key ingredients in gin?

We’re not going to leave you hanging for long… gin is made from three main ingredients:

 

  • Alcohol
  • Water
  • Juniper and other botanicals

 

So how does this trio of gin ingredients work together?

 

The raw alcohol is distilled with juniper and a selection of other botanicals. These botanicals are steeped in the spirit like a tea in water, so that subtle flavours and characteristics are infused into the final gin. We use a unique blend of 9 botanicals to make our award winning Beefeater London Dry Gin, and naturally we think we’ve found the perfect balance of flavours.

 

A distilled alcohol with a predominant flavour of juniper, in other words an early form of gin, was first produced by European monks and alchemists in the 16th century, and was used as a medicinal liquor. Cheers to them!

what grain is gin made out of?

We use a neutral distilled spirit made from grains such as wheat and barley as the foundations for our gin. Lots of different alcoholic drinks begin life in a similar way – beer, whisky and many vodkas are made using natural grains, although that’s often where the similarities end.

 

We’re sometimes asked whether gin is made from potatoes, like vodka can be. While it is possible to make gin from a neutral spirit made with potatoes, it’s not all that common. We prefer the grain type here at Beefeater.

 

You may have seen DIY gin recipes that suggest using vodka as the base for gin. This bootleg version is called compound gin, and it’s where you simply infuse juniper and additional botanicals such as herbs, spices and fruits into an already complete alcohol. Great for a bit of creative fun at home, but we can’t say it’s classed as the real deal in our eyes.

 

So now that the myth busting is out of the way (for now anyway), what does gin absolutely need in order to qualify as gin?

In 2013, Emma officially took charge of World Gin Day on account of Neil’s work commitments and over the past decade, has driven the occasion to new heights. This annual celebration has grown year on year, uniting over 200 million gin lovers on social media alone.

the crucial gin ingredient: juniper

There are some strict rules surrounding gin and how it’s made. Juniper is gin’s absolute holy grail, its main ingredient. Without juniper, it isn’t gin – it really is that simple.

But what even is juniper?

Juniperus Communis, to give juniper its Latin name, is an evergreen conifer native to much of the northern hemisphere. Juniper prefers rocky areas and moorland, and it can live for up to 200 years – impressive.

 

The fresh peppery taste of juniper berries are largely responsible for giving gin its unique flavour and personality. While several extra botanicals are added to gin, these are usually subtle, whereas juniper is the dominant flavour. And did you know that juniper is not technically a berry, but a pinecone with fleshy scales?

What other botanicals are used to make gin?

We proudly use nine all-natural botanicals to give Beefeater London Dry Gin its special character and unrivalled taste: juniper, Sicilian lemon peel, angelica seed, angelica root, Seville orange peel, almond, coriander seed, orris root and liquorice root.

 

This unique recipe (still based on the original one crafted by founder James Burrough in the 19th century) gives our gin a fresh, clean taste that really showcases the aromatic juniper flavour, along with zesty notes of citrus. 

 

But how exactly do we infuse gin with these botanicals?

how are botanicals added to gin?

Another question we’re asked regularly is what gin is brewed from. But rather than being brewed like beer, gin is actually distilled, and this is where the botanical flavours come in. 

There are several different types of gin, such as Old Tom, Plymouth, and our preferred kind of London Dry. We must follow a defined gin distillation method to ensure our gin is indeed of the London Dry variety.

The gin distillation process

During the distillation process, we macerate our botanicals in the neutral spirit for a full 24 hours. This allows the unique character of each of our nine herbs to really shine. 

The liquid is then heated up until the alcohol evaporates and is collected. So, nope – no brewing action here, we’ll leave that to the beer maestros! Read more about how gin is made.

Granted it’s not brewed, but Beefeater 24 is a premium gin for those looking for something a little different, and a whole lot special. Gin doesn’t need to be aged and can be made pretty quickly, but we know that thinking outside the box is often where the magic lies.

And with gin drinking more popular than ever, we’ve been doing even more thinking outside the box to make sure we cater to all different tastes and occasions.

What about flavoured gin?

Flavoured gins such as Beefeater Pink Strawberry, Blood Orange and Peach & Raspberry are made in the same way as our classic London Dry Gin, but with added natural flavourings for a fruity finish.

If you’re keen on getting creative with gin, take a look at our gin cocktails to find out how to make everything from a timeless Negroni to a zesty Blood Orange Martini

Yes, gin may be made from three key ingredients, but what you add to our finished product is in your hands.

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LEARN MORE AT OUR GIN DISTILLERY

Discover even more for yourself at the Beefeater Gin Distillery, nestled in the heart of London.

 

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