Gin can be flavoured using hundreds of various types of berries, seeds, grains, flowers, herbs, roots, and fruits. All these ingredients are blended together to create a unique flavour profile.
Hence, every bottle tastes different, with some being clearly juniper-forward, others more citrus-forward, sweeter or more fruity than others. That all highly depends on the botanicals the distiller used. Here are some of the most common gin botanicals and how they affect the flavour profile of the final spirit.
By far this is the most important ingredient of any gin. It is required by law to use juniper berries in order to call their product a gin. Juniper gives gin its characterful strong pine-like bitterness, with slightly more subtle notes of pepper and bittersweet berry.
Juniper-forward gins to try:
- Cotswolds Dry Gin — clean, pine juniper with a touch of dryness from the angelica root, with eucalyptus notes from bay leaf. Subtle lime and lavender.
- Conker Dorset Dry Gin — juniper leads, followed by spice and slightly sweetened by the herbaceous blue-fruit notes of elderberries.
This is the second most used gin botanical after juniper berries. Coriander seeds bring to the table subtle spicy flavours of ginger and pepper, depending on their origin. Seeds taste somewhat close to juniper berries but generally, they are a little softer.
Portobello Road No. 171 Gin is a classic London Dry distilled from juniper, cassia bark, nutmeg and coriander seeds alongside other botanicals. Coriander, paired with lemon and bitter orange, brings fresh citrus character to the mid-palate.
Orange and lemon are used most frequently in gin production, although lime, calamansi, bergamot, and grapefruit can also be used to make gin. Actually, peels of of these fruits are usually used the most. Citrus fruits complement the other botanicals and put refreshing, zesty, and slightly sweet (if the sweet oranges are used) notes into gin.
Tarsier Southeast Asian Dry Gin is a citrus-forward spirit inspired by the cuisine of Southeast Asia.
Orris root is a shy gin igredient as there are not so many gins where orris is a leading flavour. Although orris root is responsible for bringing flavours and aromas of flowers, hay, and sweet earthy scents. Much like liquorice, using orris root in gin helps to provide balanced and depth and texture to a gin.
Victory Distillery distilled their Cold Distilled Gin with orris root balanced with other botanicals such as coriander, liquorice root, angelica, orange, black pepper. Give ir a try.
These aromatic pods are often used in Asian cuisines and in liquor productions as well. Green cardamom seeds bring herbal, eucalyptol flavour to gins, while black cardamom adds a more smoky finish to the spirit.
You can taste the subtle cardamom flavours in this Warner's Harrington Dry Gin.
Angelica root is considered to be the third most important gin botanical, right after juniper and coriander. Angelica adds earthy, herbal, and flavours to the gin. It also complements the fresh pine-like flavour of the juniper berry bringing dry and bitter pine aromas.
To feel the earthy and pine-like hints of angelica root, try this Portobello Road Navy Strength Gin.
Liquorice brings bright, sweet and woody flavours to a gin. It can also affect the texture and mouthfeel of a gin, bringing oily, viscous qualities.
Cotswolds Old Tom Gin is an incredibly smooth and delicate spirit. It has sweet, woody notes from liquorice root, balanced with light spice from the ginger, zesty orange citrus and rounded off with a hint of cardamom.
This is just a small part of botanicals that are used in gin production. Explore the range of gins on Lassou to find more of great gins worth trying.