London Dry Gin
The base spirit in hundreds of classic and modern cocktails, gin continues to play a lead role in drinking culture across the globe.
The name Gin descends from the French Genievre and the Dutch Jenever, all the way back to the Latin Juniperus – meaning Juniper. So, it’s no surprise that Juniper is the key botanical ingredient when producing gin, regardless of the country of origin or specific style.
It was in the 16th century that Dutch and Flemish distillers formulated the earliest written recipes for Jenever, a spirit produced by distilling malt wine and flavouring it with herbs (primarily juniper) to make it palatable. A century later there were hundreds of Dutch and Flemish producers of Jenever, as its popularity grew across north-west Europe.
This is the predecessor to English Gin, which became established after William of Orange took the British throne in the late 17th century. By the mid-18th century gin drinking was rife in England, owing much to the heavy duty imposed on imported spirits, alongside unlicensed (yet legal) production. Thousands of gin shops fuelled the gin craze, causing higher death rates and various health issues. In 1751 the second Gin Act was passed, which forced distillers to sell through licensed establishments and placing gin shops under the jurisdiction of local magistrates. This new regulation of the gin market started to remedy the effects of the gin craze, with tea and coffee growing in popularity in the late 18th and 19th century.
London Dry Gin (sometimes called London Gin) is the most popular style of the famous juniper spirit, which grew in popularity throughout the 19th century, following the invention of the column still. London Dry Gin must be distilled from ethanol alcohol (neutral base spirit) and natural plant materials (botanicals) in traditional stills to a minimum strength of 70%abv, and bottled at a minimum strength of 37.5%abv (40%abv in the US). It must not contain added sweeteners, colours or any additional ingredients after distillation – only water may be added, to bring the spirit down to bottling strength.
Produced in many different countries by many different distilleries, London Dry Gin does not have to be made in the city from which it takes its name!
At Bimber Distillery we keep it simple, following the traditional method of a single-shot pot distillation of ten classic botanicals in a neutral wheat spirit. The botanicals are allowed to infuse for a number of hours before we start heating Astraea, our 600-litre alembic copper still. We use steam to heat the still, gently increasing the temperature until the vapours start to rise toward the swan-neck at the very top of the still.
Only the finest vapours make it to the condenser, which cools the spirit down as it turns back to liquid, ready for collection. We bring the spirit down to a bottling strength of 42%abv before it sealed with a cork and labelled – all at our Park Royal distillery.