Are you a bit of plant geek? Do you like the occasional tipple? Why not quench your thirst for botanical knowledge whilst you sip your gin!
To celebrate World Gin Day on 9th June, Jo Farish of The Gin Garden explores five botanical flavours that influence the gin that we drink!
Gin is a liquid gift for anyone interested in horticulture! It is essentially a neutral spirit, re-distilled with juniper and an almost endless number of other botanicals. Whereas nearly all other spirits have requisite ingredients, origin and process – gin is mostly defined by it’s flavour.
As long as it contains juniper, then it is then up to each distiller to decide which other plant ingredients to add to achieve their desired taste. These five botanicals are actually added to almost all gins, and provide a backbone/structure to the gin:
As well as the more common botanicals, distilleries add an infinite number of different plant materials to give new and interesting flavours. Look out for seaweed, saffron, strawberry, ginger, green tea, clover, rhubarb, hay.. You name it, and someone has probably tried to distill it!
Here are just a few gins to pick up, sip and learn a little about:
Elephant Gin: This African inspired German gin is distilled using apples sourced from the orchards around the distillery, which add fresh fruit notes.
Monkey 47: This gin contains 47 botanicals, a great gin to get experimental with your garnishes – your garnish will bring out different notes. Try a freshly ‘spanked’ sage leaf to bring the herbaceous notes to the fore.
Gin Mare: This Mediterranean gin contains rosemary, thyme and olive, which all add delicious savoury notes.
Twisted Nose: This Hampshire gin contains grapefruit peel, which releases a richer-flavoured oil than either lemon or orange. It also includes local watercress, which lends a subtle peppery flavour
St George Terroir: Marketed as ‘a forest you can drink’, this gin adds Douglas fir and woody herbs to bolster it’s juniper backbone. Garnish with a sprig of fir and some juniper berries for the full forest effect!
Botanist: 22 foraged botanicals are squeezed into this Scottish Gin, including heather, apple mint, lemon balm and gorse!
A few book suggestions that combine plant geekiness and drinking:
The Drunken Botanist – Amy Stewart. A spirited toast to the marriage of botany and booze.
Kew’s Tea, Tonics and Tipples – Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. A celebration of the of the huge diversity of flavour, colour and fragrance that plants can bring to the drinks that we consume.
The Ethicurean Cookbook – The Ethicurean Restaurant. Recipes, foods and spirituous liquors, from their bounteous walled garden.
Artisanal Cocktails – Scott Beattie. Drinks inspired by each season.