Are London Dry Gins from London? And why are they Dry?
Truth be told, the naming and definitions of the different kinds of gins is not that straight forward and to understand it all, we would have to go way back in history (and chemistry). We suggest, we spare you with all the coming-about-information and present you with the facts instead:
The word “gin” comes from genever, French word for juniper, and originated in 1650 by a Dutch doctor for medicinal purposes. The minimum any spirit has to do to be called a gin is to take a neutral (usually grain) spirit and flavour it with juniper. All bottles stating that they are ‘distilled gin’ or ‘London Dry Gins’ have to follow more rigorous production methods, and tend to be higher quality products!
MYTHS & DEFINITIONS
Compound Gin describes a simple gin that only had flavouring substances added to a neutral spirit. Any unpleasantness can be masked by essences or additives after distillation.
Distilled Gin suggests that ethanol of agricultural origin with an initial strength of 96% ABV is redistilled in the presence of botanicals. Production differs from a London Dry Gin in that the distilled gin is still permitted to add further flavourings post destination (both natural and artificial).
A London Dry Gin is considered the benchmark of quality in the world of gins and used to describe a premium product made with a strict criteria of all natural ingredients and no flavour or colourings added after distillation (see above). The term “London” has no geographic protection and the product can be made anywhere in the world!
Old Tom is sweeter and less juniper-forward versions of the London Dry Gin. Once upon a time in the late 1800s, a common sighting behind the bar, this style was almost entirely dead until recently, when a few small distilleries revived it.
The term Dry was originally implemented to distinguish unsweetened gins from Old Toms.
Sloe Gin is a historic style flavoured gin, using sloe berries, along with sugar. Sloe gin is more of a fruit liqueur than it is a true gin, and heavily varies in quality.