What is in My Gin (Gin Botanicals)

What is in My Gin ?  and Pink Gin Cocktail

Have you ever wondered how your favorite Gin gets its flavor?  Two very important components of this process are the various types of stills to choose from and the method Hendricks Stillused for adding flavor components. I will be following up with an article on the very different types of still used. For now, there are two basics methods to add flavor, one good the other not so good. Adding flavor compounds or essences to pure ethyl alcohol produces compounded gin. Cheap and not that great, compounded gins are not allowed to put “distilled gin “ on the label. That nasty lemon flavored gin from your youth was probably a compounded gin. No need to get into this any further

Redistilling neutral spirits with juniper and other botanical’s makes a true distilled Gin.  Every producer of gin has their own recipe, and therefore its own flavor profile. Botanicals are natural herbs, spices, peels, seeds or even rose petals. Each botanical brings different notes to the flavor profile.

Juniper legally is the only required botanical, Juniper adds some pine notes and lavender and a touch of heather.

Coriander is the second most commonly used ingredient and is used in a most of the premium gin brands. Spice pepper and some floral notes  predominate,depending on the source. Indian coriander has the most citric notes. Grains of Paradise also lends peppery and a chocolate note.

Angelica root lends a musty earthy note, but in a good way.  It balances the floral notes with its dry woody taste as well.  Orris root has violet and scented notes.  Cassia brings cinnamon tones to the mix. Anise is sometimes used for the slight licorice taste in some premium Gins.  Throw in nutmeg, fennel, vanilla and cloves as well.  The possible list of ingredients can be numbered in the hundreds.

Some producers use orange and citrus peels. Different peels are chosen to add different flavors. Citrus peels also work well with coriander.  Most of the producers try and keep their recipe as house secret, but if you know the basic profiles of the botanicals, you can figure out which botanicals are used.

Hendricks uses most of the botanicals as well as cucumber and rose. Bombay Sapphire as well as the common ingredients also uses Spanish lemon peel, and Cubeb Berries.These  berries have pine notes, which I taste as a background after taste. Tanqueray does not disclose their recipe other than listing, coriander and angelica. They are not quite so reluctant a let you know that Number ten has white grapefruit and chamomile. Plymouth Gin is not so shy in listing their mix of botanicals, they use fewer junipers and more sweet orange and lemon peels  ,which add more essential oils, along with the usual suspects of orrisroot and angelica. The citrus gives Plymouth its full-bodied fruity taste.  Aviation Gin as well as the regular stuff lists Indian Sarsaparilla as well which works well in some cocktails.

I think I need to mix a drink after all of this.


4 Drops of Angostura Bitters

2 Oz Gin

Swirl the bitters in a chilled Martin glass; add the gin, and a twist of lemon for garnish. Plymouth gin was the traditional brand for this cocktail but Hendricks works with the bitters as well. This drink was supposedly a favorite of the British Navy in the nineteenth century. There is the out form of this cocktail where the bitters are discarded after the swirl in the glass.

About Frank Haddad

Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. Professional Spirits from WSET. Certified Specialist of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits from the Society of Wine Educators. French Wine Society. International Sommelier Guild,. and WSET Diploma Student. Certified Sake Professional Executive Director Modernize Wine Assoc of BC
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3 Responses to What is in My Gin (Gin Botanicals)

  1. Matt Swinfen says:

    Hi Frank,
    A couple of great gins that you may want to try that are off the radar for many people are:-
    Caorunn, distilled ‘properly’ at Balmenach whisky distillery. If you’re going to put in everything from coul blush apple to dandelion and bog myrtle, you’d better be pretty confident that the infusion is going to work!
    Jensens, distilled in Southwark (London Bridge area) by a Danish ex-architect who rediscovered the style of great London gin whilst drinking in a bar in Tokyo. This makes the base of a belter of a Martini – just keep everything ice cold (glass/gin/shaker glass) and put a little bit of Noilly Prat (Ambre if you can get it, but Vya has a similar effect) or Aperitivo Cocchi Americano if you want a REALLY dry version into a small spray bottle and just give it a small hint of this prior to serving.

    Probably the most singularly important factor that I stick with is that all gin should be bottled at >41.3% ABV, or the botanicals are lost far too quickly as they’re not ‘fixed’ in the production part of the process.

    If you want to find out how ‘bonkers’ gin/genevers can actually be, try to get your hands on a aged version such as Twaalf from the Netherlands. Literally a 12yo gin, the character is more like that of a reposado Tequila, but it makes for a really interesting drink….

    Kind regards


  2. Good day Frank,

    A great article thank you for taking the time to do this.

    May I take this opportunity to introduce a quintessentially English Gin that is Oliver Twist London Distilled Gin. Distilled from the finest botanical distillates on the heart of the River Thames this Gin is not to be missed. Please view http://olivertwistgin.com for further info.

    If you would care to email us at info@olivertwistgin.com providing us with a delivery address we will gladly send you a bottle for review.

    Kind regards
    Keiran Wyatt-Nicolle
    Managing Director
    Oliver Twist London Distilled Gin

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