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How to Make Gin

Learn how to make a tasty, juniper based gin known as Genever, that’ll mix nicely, so you can enjoy delicious, homemade Gin and Tonics.

| May 2019


When I was starting to learn about distilling, one of the first things I thought about making was gin. I had only a hazy idea, at the time, of how gin was made, and no idea at all about what grains were used to make it. Then there are the juniper berries and other flavoring ingredients, referred to on gin bottle labels as "botanicals." The more I read about gin, the more intimidated I began to feel. Compared to making whiskey or rum, the process of making gin seemed complicated and a bit mysterious.

When I finally did get around to trying it, I decided to begin with genever-style gin. Although it is a multi-step process involving several distillation runs, for some reason it appealed to me as a place to start.

Genever is the Dutch word for "juniper,” the evergreen shrub whose aromatic berries supply the dominant flavor of gin. Traditionally, genever is distilled to a lower proof than London dry gin; it is also usually lightly sweetened. The two main styles of genever are oude {old) and jonge (young). These terms refer not to the age of the spirit but to the recipes used: oude is the old or traditional recipe, and jonge is the more modern recipe. As in the United States and Canada, the ingredients used and the alcohol content are defined by law. Dutch law also specifies the level of sweetening that is accept­ able in different types of genever.

Genever was originally created around 1650 by a Dutch doctor, Franciscus de la Boe. It was promoted as a medicinal tonic; juniper berries were well-known even then for their diuretic properties. Genever quickly became popular outside of Holland, particularly in England, where its use as a beverage soon outgrew its medicinal use. By the early 1700s, the more full-bodied, slightly sweet genever was changing in England to a lighter, cleaner style that became known as London dry gin. This style, still the most widely known gin type, is much closer to a neutral spirit than traditional genever, as it is distilled to a higher proof.



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