About Flavoured Gin
All gin is technically flavoured gin, given that it is a spirit defined by the addition of botanical ingredients to impart an appealing taste. What makes modern flavoured gin significant is how it differs from the traditional dry gin. Juniper berries, which must be the dominant flavour in dry gin, can be left on the sidelines while other botanicals take the spotlight.
Today, flavoured gins offer a huge array of added ingredients that can tingle your tongue, excite your taste buds and help you get really creative when it comes to making cocktails. From the bold citrus kick of blackcurrant to the rounded tang of red berries via the more outlandish routes of bubblegum and vanilla, you can pick from a plethora of punchy flavoured gin options.
You can find a lot of the top flavoured gin brands right here, giving you free rein to select the most eye-catching, thirst-quenching drinks on the market. Or if back-to-basics gin is more your thing, we’ve also got more than enough classic tipples to take your fancy. Find out more about the history of flavoured gin below, along with the flavours on offer and the cocktails it can be used to create.
While we might think of the current trend for flavoured gins as being a thoroughly contemporary take on a much simpler, more traditional spirit, in reality it is dry gin that is the historical anomaly.
From the very early days of distillation, when people began to work out how to produce neutral spirits from fermented agricultural grains, a huge amount of experimentation went on to see which added ingredients could bring a bit more zing to the base liquor. It’s safe to assume that experimentation using a huge variety of different herbs and spices went on from the Middle Ages until the mid-19th century. It was at this time that the column still was invented and making gin in a much purer form became possible. While flavoured gins were still produced by amateurs after this point, the mainstream drink became standardised, with juniper berries taking on their role as the key flavour.
Smash cut forwards to the 21st century and the last decade has seen a resurgence of gin, with sales more than doubling and gin fans being given access to a world of new flavoured products. It’s this variety and diversity of different botanical ingredients that has given new vigour to gin, without overshadowing the classic G&T in the process.
Gin derives its name from the outdated English word genever, which in turn comes from French and Dutch roots, before eventually being traced back to the Latin term juniperus, which is, of course, the equivalent of juniper.
Throughout history, some pretty unappetising ingredients have been used to flavour cheap gins, including turpentine.
Gin was originally popularised in Britain when William of Orange invaded in the 17th century and quickly became the drink of choice for poorer people because it was more affordable than heavily-taxed alternatives like brandy.
When it comes to flavoured gins, there is an almost unending array of tasting notes to consider, simply because there is so much variety in the ingredients and adaptations on offer. In general, these gins are much less neutral than dry gin and so lend themselves less to enjoying when paired with food. The berry blasts, citrus kicks, herbal hits and botanical explosions you can expect from differently flavoured gins make them better suited to enjoy as part of a cocktail, where the drink itself is the main event.
That is not to say that flavoured gins do not have a place at the dining table. The sweeter varieties make a good stand-in for dessert wine if you prefer to stick with spirits. It is best to experiment and see which flavoured gins work for you, as some versions are loved by some and ignored by others.
Grab your flavoured gin and get even more inventive using these quick cocktail recipes.
Lovers Blush – This wonderfully feminine and fabulously fruity cocktail requires a combination of 85ml of Gordon’s Pink Gin with 15ml of dry vermouth poured into a cocktail shaker full of ice. Stir these together, then strain into a glass and garnish with a cherry and a twist of lemon.
Bramble – This classic gin cocktail usually requires dry gin be mixed with a separate blackberry liqueur, but since you can grab blackberry flavoured gin which has all the zingy tastes you need, a modern Bramble can be made much more simply. Shake 80ml of blackberry flavoured gin with 20ml of lemon juice and the same of sugar syrup, pouring over crushed ice to bring down the temperature and topping off with 10ml of crème de mure and a couple of fresh blackberries for good measure.
Elderflower Collins – Elderflower flavoured gin is exceptional as a standalone option for a classic G&T, but if you want to take it a step further, this is the cocktail to make. Mix 60ml of elderflower gin with 10ml of sugar syrup and 20ml of lemon juice. Once thoroughly combined, pour this over a handful of ice and add soda water to taste. Kick this cocktail into overdrive by swapping out the water for prosecco or champagne!
Underneath all of the added extras, a flavoured gin will still be built around a base of distilled grain spirit, making it very similar to vodka. This spirit acts as a canvas on which an array of other flavours can be painted to create impressive works of quaffable art.
Ingredients found in flavoured gins are almost always derived from natural sources, including flowers, berries, herbs and extracts of spices. Elderflower, blackberry, apple, vanilla, lemon, coriander, mint, cucumber and a laundry list of other ingredients are used to impart flavour to gin. There are new varieties arriving all the time, so check back to see what fresh, exciting ingredients are being used to shape the modern gin craze.