If you are a gin fan, then you'll be pleased to find that gin began as a medicinal liquor, originally made by monks in Italy. It later spread, profferred by monks and alchemists across Europe and finally gained popularity as a beverage in England when Dutch and Belgian people brought it over in the form of jenever and the English decided that with all those spices it tasted pretty good actually.
Though the ingredient lists differ widely, the base ingredients, spirits and and juniper berries, are often mixed with a myriad of, frankly, healthy-sounding, ingredients. There's usually a citrus element - often lemon or bitter orange or in the case of Roku gin, even yuzu. Other than that, the usual blend is anise, angelica, orris root, liquorice, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg and cassia bark. The concentrations vary from gin to gin of course but to really differentiate one from the others, some have less common flavourings such as almond, longan fruit, saffron, baobab bark, frankincense, cubeb pepper, rose, lavender or berries - but don't think that list is exhaustive, you'll find gins with almost any spice under the sun in them.
Good luck picking all those flavours out of your evening tipple, but the diversity of flavours are a hint to the diversity of the spirit itself - with so many subtle flavours to pull out through artful cocktail making, tonic choice or garnish additions. Try swapping the lime wedge you put in your summer G&T with a cinnamon stick and an orange peel in winter... Sarah garnished her gin Gibson in the image above with delicious little cocktail onions... Or dare we suggest mixing it up from your usual brand and trying a gin that showcases a different group of botanicals.
Hendrick's highlights cucumber and rose petals, Dancing Sands Dry Gin mingles New Zealand's own manuka leaves with the traditional juniper, Saffron Gin, believe it or not, tastes of saffron. There's a breadth of flavours on top of that juniper base that bears exploring.
And so far we haven't even mentioned sloe gin. Sloe gin is a deep red, rich, sweet jammy variety of gin that adds the drupe (berry) of the sloe (or blackthorn) plant. It's rising in popularity in New Zealand as we gain knowledge of it - and if you haven't tried it already we highly recommend picking up a bottle or Hayman's Sloe Gin, Elephant Sloe Gin, or go for a happy medium between sloe and classic gin with the berry-rich but still G&T-ready Blush Small Batch Boysenberry Gin (plus if you haven't already tried Blush's Rhubarb Gin you are missing out!)
There's actually so much variety, all I can do is recommend you head down to your local Liquorland, have a browse for yourself and celebrate International Gin Day in style!
Visit the Liquorland Toast website here.