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Know your Gin Jargon: Unpacking Gin Terminology

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From time to time we have probably all considered ourselves to be the family’s budding gin connoisseur, the self taught mixologist or all round spirit master. Expanding our collections with colourful shades of pink and blue, buying pretty bottles, reading up on local releases and up and coming distilleries. But how many of us actually know the lingo, understand the slang and can truly walk the walk when it comes to gin? Do you know difference between drinking your gin ‘straight up’ or ‘neat’? What a ‘yellow’ or ‘barrel-aged’ gin is? And what really makes that Martini ‘dirty’? If not, do not fret. We have you covered; we’ve unpacked some of the weird and wonderful jargon and phrases in the Gin-osphere so you can impress everyone (and yourself) the next time you’re in charge of pouring drinks.

Botanicals

Let’s begin with botanicals, a fundamental and very necessary component of all types of gin. Botanicals can be best described as natural seeds, herb, berries and other ingredients that are used in the making and production of gin. However, probably the most prominent and important botanical of them all is juniper. Gin isn’t legally allowed to be classified as gin without the inclusion of the juniper berry which gives gin its unique and zesty flavour profile. In fact, juniper isn’t a berry as such, rather the female seed cone of a juniper plant. There are an infinite amount of botanicals to choose from including thyme, rosemary, strawberries, coriander and citrus.

Barrel-aged Gin

This one dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries when the transportation of gin wasn’t as easy as it is today. In order to ensure the safe arrival of gin, ships would store the popular spirit in oak barrels to make sure there was no breakage or leaking. And while this technique is not used anymore to transport, it is a modern day method used to give gin a woody and smoky flavour. Today, barrel-aged gins are more commonly known as ‘yellow’ gins owing to the fact that the gin seeps into the oak creating a beautiful amber hue.

Bathtub Gin

It’s the 1920s, prohibition is in full swing and the black market is littered with underground, illegally brewed batches of gin. The term ‘bathtub’ gin became synonymous with people creating their own homemade versions of the popular spirit in their bathtubs. Today, bathtub gin is the word used to describe any amateur and homemade gin.

Dirty

There’s nothing quite like going to your favourite bar on a Friday night, ordering a Dirty Martini and suddenly feeling a wave of confidence and coolness sweep over you. Now it’s one thing to have a Martini on its own but a whole new ball game to order it dirty. So what does it actually mean? Simply put, a Dirty Martini has the added ingredient of some of the olive brine from the olives that are naturally added giving the cocktail a salty, savoury flavour.

London Dry Gin

Believe it or not, London Dry Gin does not hail from London or any specific region for that matter. Instead, London Dry Gin refers to the manner in which the gin has been distilled and has nothing to do with the flavour or geographic location of the gin. London Dry Gin is known for its distinct pungent aroma, distinct juniper flavour and its zero added sugar.

Long

This word best describes a cocktail or G&T that has a larger proportion of mixer to spirit making it slightly more diluted in the process. It’s as simple as that.

Muddling

If you really want to impress your friends, this technique is great way to enhance and take your cocktail to another level. Muddling is a technique that uses a muddle, wooden spoon or a pestle to gently release the flavours and aromas that are so often hidden in the added fruit, spices and herbs used to elevate your gin. The added botanicals should be carefully ground and not over worked so as to avoid them becoming bitter and bruised. Once pressed, the botanicals bind with the spirit to enhance the overall flavour profile of the cocktail.

Neat

A technique not chosen for the faint of heart, this style of enjoying gin is for those who truly want to experience their drink for what it is. This method sees a drink enjoyed without any added mixers, ice or botanicals and in some cases not even chilled. This is often seen at tastings when a small amount of the spirit is offered up so as to not dilute.

Straight up

Not to be confused with on the rocks or neat this method sees one enjoying their gin chilled but without ice. One the rocks is a common phrase that is used to explain when a spirit is drank on its own over ice cubes typically in a tumbler glass.

Short

Unlike a long drink, a short drink has a smaller volume of mixer than the average cocktail however; it also holds the same amount of alcohol (around 30ml). A short drink therefore has a punchier, stronger, less diluted flavour profile and is often enjoyed in shorter glasses.

Twist

A tried and tested method at Inverroche Distillery, adding a twist to your drink is adding a zest of citrus peel in order to enhance the flavour and scent of the gin by releasing the aromatic oils from the fruit’s skin. Try smelling and tasting your gin neat before adding the rind to see how the flavours change.

We could spend the whole day identifying modern and traditional phrases in the wide world of gin and cocktails, but we hope you’ll take at least one word with you to your next dinner party or gin tasting event (when we can finally all be reunited). Please comment and add to our list so everyone can take something new and interesting away with them. Get in touch via our social media platforms and share your gin terminology knowledge.

Special thanks to Craft Gin Club for this week’s blog inspiration! Visit Craft Gin Club Website
How to Access the World of Gin
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