Cognac / Armagnac / Brandy
Fruit Brandy and Calvados
Gin / Jenever
Gin is the juniper distillate that bartenders love. Its history is closely connected with the one of Dutch Jenever.
Jenever (sometimes spelled genever) originally comes from the Netherlands and Belgium. Its origins go way back into the 16th century. At that time, it got its name from the Latin word for juniper berries, „juniperus communis“. Today, jenevers have a specified minimum alcohol content of 35 % vol. and juniper is no longer necessarily the primary flavour enhancer. Caraway and aniseed, as well as other herbs and spices, are often added. A distinction is made between oude (old) and jonge (young) jenever. Oude jenevers tend to be somewhat more malty and golden in colour due to being kept in barrels, whereas jonge jenevers are clear like water and have fine juniper notes.
Neutral alcohol of agricultural origin, mainly from grain and sugar beet molasses, forms the basis of gin. Gin gets its special flavour from soaking (macerating) characteristic herbs, fruits and spices in the neutral alcohol. Junipers were usually an important element here. After soaking, the mixture is distilled again and water is used to bring it to the desired drinking strength. According to European regulations, the minimum alcohol content of gin is 37.5 % vol.
The juniper-based predecessor of gin is the aforementioned Dutch genever. In the 17th century, English soldiers who supported the Dutch in their war against Spain brought juniper spirits to England, where they very quickly became popular. They also gave the spirit its name, since to the English tongue gin was easier to pronounce than jenever. In 1689, the Dutch sovereign William III of Orange ascended to the English throne and helped make gin even more popular. He also liberalised the distillation laws, the result of which was that gin production for a time exceeded beer production sixfold. The consequence of this was a decline in quality, but this was finally overcome by the beginning of the 20th century. From then on, gin was regarded as a valuable and versatile spirit. In particular, gin was a popular drink among officers in the British colonies, because it helped to make more bearable the acid tastes of lemon juice (taken to prevent scurvy) and quinine powder (taken as a malaria remedy). The famous classic cocktails Gin and Tonic and Gin Fizz can be traced back to this particular use.
What is known as London Dry Gin has a special gin quality. This type of gin may only be made with alcohol of agricultural origin, and its aroma is obtained exclusively through two distillations. In addition, no more than 0.1 gramme per litre of sweetening may be added to the finished London Dry Gin product, and it must contain no added colouring agents.
Port / Sherry
Rum / rhum
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