Exploring Essential Gin Terms That Every Enthusiast Should Know
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Plant-based and botanically flavoured, gin is a distilled liquor. Its primary component, juniper berries, are responsible for its distinctive pine flavour. From the well-known London dry gins to more contemporary gins that are less piney and more accessible, there are many different varieties. A Dutch invention, gin gained international popularity thanks to the English. Spanish, Belgian, Dutch, and British gin consumers make up the largest global market today. It's the key component in the traditional martini and essential to the renowned gin and tonic, but it can also be found in a tonne of delicious cocktail recipes.

This simple guide explains all the slightly technical terms related to gin so that everyone can enjoy exploring gin with a little bit more information.


'Alcohol by volume' is what ABV stands for. It expresses the proportion of pure alcohol in a drink's total volume of liquid. The actual percentage will vary depending on the brand and product, but 37.5% ABV is the minimum bottled strength required for a gin to qualify as such. This indicates that alcohol makes up 37.5% of the gin's volume.


Natural flavours found in seeds, berries, herbs, and roots are the essence of every gin, with juniper serving as the sole botanical need for gin to be recognised by law. Every gin has a distinct personality because of this wide selection of botanicals.


Alcohol contains physiologically active substances called congeners. They aid in the production of the drink's taste, aroma, and appearance, but they may also exacerbate the severity of your hangover.

While clear spirits like gin contain fewer congeners and may consequently create relatively fewer unpleasant aftereffects, they are more prevalent in darker liquids like red wine and brandy.


A key step in producing gin is the purification process known as distillation. The basic alcohol obtained from distillation is combined with other botanicals, such as juniper and coriander, to make gin.


As the main component of gin and almost all alcoholic beverages, this chemical compound—which you may recall from your chemistry classes—is pure alcohol and is probably present in your life more often than you realise. Gin gets its bitter flavour from this explosive and volatile substance.


a very archaic expression for how much liquor to pour until your fingers are fully submerged in the glass—for example, "three fingers of gin." This practice has mostly been discontinued thanks to standardised measures.


In Dutch, genever means "juniper." But it's not gin, either. It was, in fact, the ancestor of gin. Legally speaking, a spirit known as "genever" can only be called such if it is made in Holland, Belgium, or some parts of France and Germany. It is made by distilling grains, juniper, and other botanicals together. Genever tastes more like whisky than gin, despite its name, therefore you shouldn't use it in place of gin in a G&T.


A Highball is a long mixed drink made with only two ingredients: one type of liquor and a higher percentage of one mixer (with ice and garnish, of course). The term 'highball' also refers to a tall, straight-sided glass used to serve cocktails of the same name.

London Dry Gin

One of the most well-known varieties of gin, there are a few characteristics that distinguish this gin, and no, it does not have to be from London. It is based on a distilled neutral spirit with at least 96% ABV, juniper as the main botanical, and no artificial ingredients.


When a cocktail recipe asks you to "muddle" the fruit or herbs that will be in the drink, what this really means is that you press the ingredients down gently with a muddler (or wooden spoon, pestle, or something similar) to release some of the juices and flavours into the spirit. This allows the alcohol to bind with the ingredients and improves the drink's overall flavour.


Quinine, a bitter compound from cinchona bark, was used by troops to cure and prevent malaria under the British Raj. They discovered that combining it with sugar, gin, and water facilitated the medication's absorption. The G&T originated when tonic produced from the same bittering chemical finally took the place of quinine and water. Quinine and gin have complementary compounds, thus even though cinchona is botanical in some gins, you can mix almost any gin with a tonic.


A spirit "on the rocks" is only a spirit that has been combined with ice and nothing more. The word comes from an era before ice was made into tidy cubes; instead, it was broken off of a bigger block in pieces, like real rocks.

Simply Syrup

Simple syrup is a sugar solution used to make drinks sweeter. Blending more quickly and efficiently, it replaces other sweeteners like granulated sugar.