What is gin made from?

26 Mar 2020

Food + Drink

World Gin Day falls on June 13, and it is a spirit with a fascinating history. With so many more uses than the classic gin and tonic, we look at how you can elevate your gin to the next level.

In the UK, gin has a difficult history. Incredibly popular in the 1700s, the spirit was affectionately known as “mother’s ruin” and 10 million gallons of gin were distilled annually in London alone, leading to mothers neglecting their children and men selling their daughters for a gin bottle.

These days, gin is again the nation’s favourite spirit, but in a very different way. Rather than getting by on your standard bottle, premium and craft gins are now widely available, distinguishing themselves by using different botanicals, adding floral, fruit, or spicy notes. As World Gin Day gives us an excuse to drink more gin – as if we needed that – we take a look at how gin is made.

What are the ingredients needed to make gin?

Like vodka, gin is an alcoholic spirit that is distilled from fermented grain. There are no restrictions on which grain needs to be used and botanicals are added to give the spirit flavour and aroma. To do this, the alcoholic spirit is re-distilled after being infused with a mix of botanicals, but to be called gin, it has to have juniper as the predominant flavour.

Although juniper notes have to be present, there are no other limitations on what botanicals can be added to the spirit. Recently, gin distillers have started to take advantage of this fact and infused their gins with more unusual botanicals, such as chilli, basil, liquorice root and seaweed.

In fact, here at Hotel Chocolat we have made our own gin with a distinctive – but delicious – botanical. We like to stick to what we know best, so we’ve distilled a gin with cocoa shells, imparting a warm, toasty flavour to the gin, that we’ve elevated with zingy citrus notes.

How should I drink my gin?

A gin and tonic is the classic long drink; refreshing, cold and bitter-sweet, there’s no wonder it’s such a popular mix. Along with the rise of premium gin, craft tonics have also experienced a rise in popularity, with botanically brewed Fentimans and zingy Fever Tree as some of the favourites. The most important is to make sure your delicate gin flavours aren’t drowned out by an overly punchy tonic water; the two should complement each other.

If you’re out of tonic or fancy something a little more exciting, why not experiment with gin cocktails? Different gins will lend themselves to different drinks, so splash an orangey gin into a negroni, or shake a gin with bolder, warmer flavours (like our cocoa gin) into an espresso martini. To truly savour all the delicate botanicals in a craft gin, try the classic martini; we suggest two parts gin to one part martini bianco, with a twist of lemon peel dropped into the glass.

What is World Gin Day?

World Gin Day began with two friends coming together to enjoy gin in 2009 and it has now grown into a worldwide phenomenon, although celebrations are concentrated in the UK and Australia. It’s a great opportunity to try new types of gin, drink gin and tonics, experiment with new cocktails or just grab an extra gin bottle for the spirits cupboard!

If you want to join in the celebrations but you’re not a fan of gin, why not try our award-winning cocoa beer? Malty, dark, but not too sweet, we’ve used cocoa shells to give it a toasted cocoa flavour, so you can enjoy a delicate chocolate aroma while still staying refreshed. For more of an intense chocolate flavour, our cocoa cream is decadent without being overly-sweet.

Cocoa Gin Recipes

To help you celebrate World Gin Day our chocolatiers have prepared a range of recipes for different ways to enjoy Cacao Gin on 13th June (and beyond).

Lime & Cacao Gin Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients

  • 1 shot of Cacao Gin
  • 1 lime
  • 3 egg whites
  • 70g sugar Zest
  • 200g coconut
  • 30g flour
  • White chocolate (melted) to decorate

Breakfast Martini

Ingredients

  • 50ml Cocoa Gin
  • 25ml Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of marmalade or lemon curd
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Ice

Cacao Gin & Orange Truffles

Ingredients

  • 70g Cocoa Gin
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 180g 40% milk chocolate
  • 30g butter
  • Fine zest of ½ – 1 orange
  • White chocolate (melted) to enrobe or dip

Blackberry & Gin Sorbet

Ingredients

  • 75ml Cacao Gin, or to taste
  • 300g blackberries
  • 60g sugar
  • 130ml water
  • Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste

Whatever your choice of tipple, raise a glass to World Gin Day this June.