Dan Saladino explores the past, present and future of the most British of drinks, gin. And hears how a new generation of distillers is testing the boundaries of an old and familiar flavour.
For decades vodka was the spirit of choice, not just for James Bond, but also for bartenders and mixologists (a recent term for the people who develop new drink recipes and cocktails). But more recently people have been reaching out for more interesting and complex flavours to replace the neutral taste of vodka. Gin was perfect.
From as far back as the 12th century apothecaries had used juniper and its coniferous flavours in spirits to heal and revive. By the 17th century the Dutch had given us Geneva or Holland Gin, a rough, whisky like spirit with juniper at its base. As distilling techniques developed in the 19th century it became the refined gin we know today with juniper flavours being delicately mixed with botanicals like coriander, cinnamon, ginger and Orris.
It's the challenge of blendin