Jump to content Jump to search
featured image

What is Gin? Exploring the World of the Juniper Spirit

Wed, Jul 26, 23


Gin, once considered a drink of the past, has experienced a remarkable resurgence in recent years. At Pascale's Wine & Liquors, located at 105 Towne Drive, Fayetteville, NY 13066, we take pride in offering an extensive selection of gins that cater to the growing demand and ever-evolving tastes of our customers.

Background of Gin

Gin is a distilled spirit that is primarily infused with botanicals, with juniper berries acting as the predominant flavoring ingredient. While the exact origins of gin are debated, it is widely believed to have its roots in the Netherlands, where it was initially developed as a medicinal remedy. However, it was in England where gin truly flourished and gained its reputation as the "spirit of the people." This reputation was further solidified through its association with the term "Dutch Courage," referring to the supposed bravery-inducing effects of gin. Over the centuries, gin has evolved from its medicinal beginnings to become a global phenomenon, enjoyed for its diverse flavors and unique character.

Exploring Botanicals: A Guide to the Flavor Profiles of Common Gin Ingredients

At the heart of gin lies the botanicals - the various herbs, spices, fruits, and flowers that contribute to its complex flavor profiles. Understanding these botanicals is key to appreciating the depth and diversity of gin. Of course, no exploration of gin botanicals would be complete without highlighting the importance of juniper berries, which provide gin with its signature piney, resinous, and slightly fruity character. Additionally, we delve into the bright and zesty flavors contributed by citrus peel, the warm and spicy notes imparted by coriander seeds, and the earthy and herbal undertones of angelica root. Furthermore, orris root provides a floral and slightly sweet essence, which adds a delicate touch to gin. There are also unique and unusual botanicals that add a touch of the extraordinary to gin, such as lavender with its floral and fragrant impact, elderflower with its delicate and floral notes, cardamom with its warm and exotic spice presence, and cubeb berries with their peppery and fruity nuances. By understanding the flavor profiles of these botanicals, you gain insight into the vast range of possibilities for crafting unique and delightful gin expressions.

The Influence of Terroir in Gin Production: How Location Impacts Flavor

Just as with wine, the concept of terroir plays a significant role in gin production. Terroir refers to the environmental factors, such as climate, soil, and local botanicals, that influence the flavor and character of a spirit. Let's explore specific gin-producing regions and their unique terroir influence, highlighting renowned gins that exemplify the distinct flavors imparted by their geographic location. From the coastal gins of the United Kingdom, where maritime influences contribute to a briny and herbaceous character, to the aromatic gins of the Mediterranean, influenced by the region's abundant citrus orchards and aromatic herbs, we take you on a sensorial journey that showcases the impact of terroir on gin. 

Diving into Various Gin Producing Regions

United Kingdom:
The United Kingdom is widely recognized as the birthplace of gin and remains a stronghold for this beloved spirit. Renowned brands such as Beefeater, Tanqueray, and Bombay Sapphire have perfected their craft over generations, upholding the tradition and quality that gin enthusiasts admire. These iconic gins often showcase a classic London Dry style, highlighting the traditional botanicals of juniper, coriander, angelica, and citrus peel. In recent years, a wave of innovative newcomers has emerged, pushing the boundaries of gin-making with unique flavors and techniques. Craft distilleries like Hendrick's and The Botanist have gained international recognition for their creative approaches and unconventional botanical blends. The United Kingdom continues to be a powerhouse in the gin industry, delivering a wide range of exceptional gins that cater to various palates and preferences.

Spain has seen a remarkable gin renaissance in recent years, with the spirit becoming increasingly popular among locals and tourists alike. Spanish gins often showcase vibrant flavors and a refreshing Mediterranean influence. One of the hallmarks of Spanish gin production is the use of local botanicals, bringing a distinct sense of terroir to the spirits. For example, gins like Gin Mare and Xoriguer draw inspiration from Spain's abundant citrus orchards, aromatic herbs, and marine climate. These gins often feature botanicals such as rosemary, thyme, olives, and lemon peel, capturing the essence of the Mediterranean landscape. Spanish gins are known for their versatility, perfectly suited for both classic gin and tonic combinations and innovative cocktails that showcase the botanical richness and complexity of the spirits.

United States:
The United States has witnessed a vibrant and flourishing craft gin movement, with distilleries across the country pushing the boundaries of gin-making and offering unique expressions of the spirit. Craft distilleries like St. George Spirits in California and Aviation Gin in Oregon showcase the innovative and adventurous spirit of American gin. St. George Spirits infuses their gins with a sense of local terroir, utilizing botanicals sourced from California's diverse landscapes, such as Douglas fir, California bay laurel, and local citrus fruits. Aviation Gin, on the other hand, brings a modern twist to gin-making by employing a unique blend of botanicals, including lavender, anise, and Indian sarsaparilla, resulting in a distinctly floral and richly aromatic spirit. With craft distilleries like these, the American gin scene continues to captivate with its boundless creativity and commitment to exploring new flavors and profiles.

Nick's Picks: Favorite Gins

Apium London Dry Gin

Apium London Dry Gin is a perfect example of a well-balanced London Dry-style gin, crafted with botanicals such as juniper, rosemary, black pepper, and lavender. Its dry palate opens with prominent juniper notes and spicy hints of coriander, with a balsamic touch of aromatic herbs like rosemary and lavender. Apium's fusion of botanicals delivers complexity and roundness, making it a favorite among gin enthusiasts.

Gray's Peak Gin

Grays Peak Gin is a smooth and well-balanced gin, distilled entirely from corn and charcoal-filtered. With botanicals such as juniper, coriander, angelica, cubes, lemon, licorice, orange, and orris, it provides an enjoyable classic gin experience. While it may not reach the same level of complexity as other gins, Gray's Peak Gin hits all the marks with its piney juniper notes and a bit of angelica and licorice.

Hendrick's Gin

Hendrick's Gin defies convention with its infusion of rose and cucumber, creating a uniquely refreshing and aromatic flavor profile. Crafted in small batches, this Scottish gin combines spirits from two different stills before being graced with the infusion of roses and cucumbers. The result is a wondrously balanced gin with delightful floral aromas, making it a memorable choice for any occasion. 

Barr Hill Gin

Barr Hill Gin pays homage to the hardworking bees of the Northeast with its raw honey infusion. Distilled once in a custom-built botanical extraction still, Barr Hill Gin combines juniper berries with raw honey from the region, resulting in a smooth and well-balanced spirit. The delightful aromas of juniper, citrus, and herbs lead into a subtly sweet palate with hints of honey and flowers, offering a unique and enjoyable gin experience.

The Art of Barrel Aging Gin

Barrel aging gin is an art form that involves carefully selecting the type of barrel and allowing the gin to mature over time. The process begins with selecting the base gin, which is then placed into barrels, often made from oak, to allow for interaction with the wood. The gin absorbs flavors from the barrel, resulting in a more rounded and nuanced taste. The length of aging can vary depending on the desired flavor profile, with some gins aged for months and others for several years.

Different Types of Barrels Used

Various types of barrels can be used for aging gin, each contributing its unique flavors and aromas to the final product. Ex-bourbon barrels, which have previously held bourbon, are a popular choice. These barrels impart notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak, adding richness and warmth to the gin. New oak barrels, which have not been previously used for aging other spirits, offer a clean and intense wood flavor. Other types of barrels, such as sherry or wine barrels, can also be used, infusing the gin with additional layers of complexity and subtle fruity undertones.

Flavor Evolution in Barrel-Aged Gins

As gin ages in barrels, it undergoes a transformation that affects its color, aroma, and taste. The color of the gin may deepen, taking on hues of amber or golden brown. The aroma becomes more complex, with hints of caramel, spice, and toasted oak. On the palate, the gin gains a smooth and velvety texture, with flavors that may include vanilla, toffee, and baking spices. The barrel aging process allows the gin to mellow, integrating the flavors and creating a harmonious balance between the botanicals and the wood.

The Revival of Old Tom Gin: Uncovering This Resurgent Classic

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in historical gin styles, leading to the revival of Old Tom gin. Craft distilleries and gin brands have embraced the rich history of this classic style and have begun producing their own versions of Old Tom gin, often with a modern twist. This resurgence has brought attention to the unique flavor profile of Old Tom gin, drawing in gin enthusiasts who appreciate its balance of sweetness and botanical complexity.

Old Tom gin gets its name from the wooden "Old Tom" plaques that were often mounted on the outside walls of pubs during the 18th century. These plaques indicated the presence of a secret slot, through which a shot of gin could be poured into a customer's glass. Old Tom gin bridges the gap between the genevers of the Netherlands and the dry gins of England. It is characterized by its slightly sweeter taste compared to London Dry gin, a result of the addition of small amounts of sugar or other sweeteners.

Old Tom Gin's Distinctive Profile

Compared to London Dry gin, Old Tom gin has a slightly sweeter and more botanical-forward taste. It strikes a delicate balance between the juniper-forward profile of gin and the subtle sweetness provided by sugar or other sweeteners. The added sweetness enhances the fruity and floral flavors of the botanicals, resulting in a gin that is both flavorful and approachable. The sweetness of Old Tom gin lends itself well to classic cocktails like the Tom Collins and the Martinez, bringing a touch of nostalgia and history to these drinks.

The Art of Infusing Gin: DIY Flavored Gins for Home Mixology

For those who enjoy the creative and experimental aspects of mixology, infusing gin with various flavors opens up a world of possibilities. When it comes to choosing ingredients for your gin infusions, the options are nearly limitless. Fruits like berries, citrus, and tropical fruits can lend their vibrant flavors to the gin, while herbs like rosemary, thyme, and basil provide a fresh and aromatic touch. Spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves imbue warmth and complexity, and floral elements like lavender, hibiscus, and rose petals add delicate and fragrant notes. Each ingredient brings its unique flavors and characteristics, allowing you to create an infusion that is truly your own.


As our marvelous journey through the world of gin comes to an end, we hope you feel inspired to explore the vast and diverse landscape of this multifaceted spirit. At Pascale’s Wine & Liquors, located at 105 Towne Drive, Fayetteville, NY 13066, we take great pride in offering a selection of exceptional gins that represent the finest craftsmanship and flavors from around the globe. From the classic and traditional to the innovative and unique, our curated collection caters to the discerning tastes of gin connoisseurs. We invite you to embark on your own gin tasting adventure, experimenting with different botanicals, flavors, and styles to find your personal favorites. So, raise a glass and celebrate the remarkable world of gin. Cheers to the juniper spirit!
By Alden Morris