The Ultimate Gin Guide

Australian Gin Distiller

Table of Contents

What is gin?

Gin is made by redistilling a high-proof neutral spirit with assorted botanicals (roots, herbs, spices, citrus, etc.).

The neutral spirit that is used to make gin can be made from any starch or sugar base (grain, grapes, potato, molasses, etc.), each of which imparts its own unique and subtle characteristics on the spirit.

The key ingredient that must be included in the list of botanicals is juniper. Without juniper it cannot be called gin.

In addition to juniper, some botanicals that are commonly featured in a gin botanical bill are:

  • Coriander seed
  • Angelica root
  • Orange peel
  • Lemon peel
  • Orris root
  • Cardamom
  • Cassia

Gin Distillation

What are the main types of gin?

Gin is a versatile category of spirit and it can be divided into 8 types, each with their own unique characteristics.

1. London Dry Gin

A dry style of gin that highlights juniper and citrus. Despite the name, it doesn’t have to be made in London. The strong juniper flavour makes it a great choice for mixed drinks such as a Gin & Tonic.

2. Plymouth Gin

This can be considered a subcategory of London Dry Gin with its lighter, citrusy, earthy and slightly sweeter flavour profile. Up until 2015 this category was protected by geographical indication protections by the EU. There is only one brand that falls into this category.

3. Old Tom Gin

Old Tom Gin was the main style of gin available 150 years ago. It would often have a limited botanical bill, was made from grain, and was pot distilled. The gin would often see some time in barrels, and have a perceived sweetness from ingredients such as licorice root or fennel seed.

4. New Western or Contemporary Gin

A modern style of gin that leans away from the heavy juniper flavour profiles of traditional gin. These new age gins feature unique and/or locally sourced botanicals resulting in a more diverse and often fruity or floral gins. A great example of this style is our best selling gin which heroes grapefruit, rosemary and lavender.

Best Threefold Gin

5. Navy Strength Gin

This category of gin was favoured by the British Royal Navy due to its higher proof. Navy Strength Gin must be 57.15% ABV (alcohol by volume) or above so that gunpowder will still ignite when wet by the spirit. Obviously we no longer have this need but the higher proof makes for a strong, robust gin.

6. Genever or Jenever

The category that was the precursor to gin. It's made from malt wine and has a maltier and less juniper-forward taste compared to London Dry. There are two main types of Genever - Jonge (young) and Oude (old), the latter having a more malt-forward and richer flavour.

7. Compound Gin

A rather crude form of gin. Botanicals are infused into neutral spirit without re-distillation. This method can be used for making gin at home but it lacks depth of flavour that is found in distilled gins.

8. Flavoured or Infused Gins

These gins are infused with additional flavors, often fruits, herbs, or spices, after distillation. Sloe gin would be categorised within this style. A popular and modern Australian example of this is shiraz gin, whereby shiraz grapes are macerated in gin.

Gin Basket Distilling

What are the 3 main ingredients in gin?

The 3 most common botanicals used to make gin are juniper berries, coriander seed and angelica root. Each ingredient imparts its own unique flavour profile to a gin.

1. Juniper Berries

The berry has piney, resinous, woody, and earthy characters, alongside citrus notes, specifically lemon and orange zest. The flavour is reminiscent of pine trees.

2. Coriander Seed

Surprising to many, coriander is the second most common ingredient in gin, after juniper. It has a very different flavour compared to fresh coriander, imparting light citrus and spice notes to gin.

3. Angelica Root

Distilled angelica root has noticeably earthy and herbal notes. It also acts as a flavour-binding agent in gin.

Gin Botanicals Coriander

Why is gin better than vodka?

Gin is better than vodka for a number of reasons, but of course this statement is subjective and it all comes down to personal preference.

Here are 7 reasons why gin is better than vodka:

  1. Complex - gin is flavoured with botanicals including herbs, roots, spices, fruits, and flowers. This gives gin more complex and interesting flavours compared to vodka’s neutral flavour profile.
  2. Versatile - because of this diverse and complex flavour profile of gin, it can pair in a wide variety of mixed drinks and cocktails. The character of an individual gin can enhance a drink’s flavour, unlike vodka which will remain neutral.
  3. Character - vodka is prized for its smoothness whilst gin has more character and personality. The flavour from the botanicals give gin character that stands out in cocktails and can also be appreciated neat.
  4. Aromatic - these same botanicals used to add flavour to a gin are also responsible for adding aroma to the spirit which adds another dimension to the drinking experience.
  5. Cocktails - gin has played a pivotal role in modern cocktail culture and there are countless classic cocktails that are gin-based. The versatility of gin has made it a favourite amongst bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts. Some of the popular gin-based classic cocktails include the martini, clover club and negroni.

Read our Guide to Making the Perfect Negroni.

Negroni Cocktail Recipe

What is the most popular gin in the world?

The top five most popular gin brands listed by 9-litre cases sold in 2022:

  1. Ginebra San Miguel (37.9 million cases)
  2. Gordon's (7.7 million cases)
  3. Tanqueray (5.5 million cases)
  4. Bombay Sapphire (5.2 million cases)
  5. Beefeater (3.8 million cases)

What is the best selling gin in Australia?

The overall consumption of gin grew by 36% in 2020 with over 973,000 cases of gin sold. Although the majority of these sales were by the big 3 international brands. The best selling gin brands in Australia are:

  1. Gordon’s
  2. Tanquerary
  3. Bombay

Support local distilleries. Buy Australian gin.

What is gin made from?

Gin is made from a neutral spirit and juniper.

The neutral spirit is redistilled with botanicals, one of which must be juniper in order to be classified as gin.

The neutral spirit is most often diluted with water before adding the mix of herbs, spices, roots and citrus. These botanicals can be steeped within the spirit prior to distillation, added at the time of distillation and/or added to a basket and vapour distilled in order to extract the oils / flavours.

Gin Botanicals

What kind of alcohol is gin?

The neutral spirit used to make gin can be made from any starch or sugar including grain (wheat, corn, rye, barley, etc.), grapes, molasses, potato, sugar beets, whey, etc.

These sugar and starch sources are often determined by local agriculture. For example, wheat is often used in the Eastern states of Australia, grapes in South Australia and whey is commonly used in New Zealand.

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