The pleasing aromatic drink, gin, is fast becoming one of Australia’s favourite drinks. There’s a good reason for that; Australia has a variety of unique botanicals not found anywhere else in the world that provide amazing flavour and aromas to produce some of the best gin in the world.
If you’re on a gin craze and need to know everything there is about the spirit, this article will cover what gin is made from, whether it’s gluten-free, and how it’s different from vodka. Firstly though, we’ll get into the story behind gin. So, sit back, pour yourself a gin and tonic, and read on.
The History of Gin
The best place to start with when learning about gin is of course the history behind it. It’s quite interesting, we promise. Gin started out as a 16th-century medicine invented by a Dutch physician. He distilled juniper berries with a base spirit and this became known as “jenever” – the Dutch word for juniper. Juniper Berries are what give the spirit its aromatic flavour, but we’ll cover what gin is made from a little later. Typically jenever was used to treat gout and dyspepsia, but it gained popularity in the 17th century during the Thirty Years’ War.
Gin is sometimes referred to as “Dutch courage,” this links back to the Thirty Years’ War, one of Europe’s most brutal wars. The English fought alongside the Dutch to fight the invading Spanish, and as the war progressed the English found the Dutch to be especially brave. This bravery was partially thanks to the Dutch drinking jenever (gin) to calm their nerves and soon enough the drink was nicknamed “Dutch courage.”
After the war, the English then began to produce and distribute Gin throughout England and eventually all over the world. Australia has since picked up the art of gin distillation, and now produces some of the best gin in the world.
What Gin is made from?
The distillation recipe for gin is vastly different depending on the distillery’s own method. Typically though, there are three main methods used but before we go through that, we need to know what gin is made from.
There are many different ways to flavour gin and to get the unique flavour of gin, distillers need a base spirit, sometimes these can be a grain spirit, such as wheat or barley, or a raw sugar spirit. This base is then infused with botanicals, such as juniper, citrus peels and coriander seeds. There are a number of different ingredient combinations that distilleries use to get such great flavours. Our very own Stableviews Abrolhos Gin uses raw sugar spirit as a base with native botanicals that flavour gin in a way that is totally unique to Australia.
How Gin is made?
As mentioned before, there are two main ways to distil gin: vapour infusion and steeping. This is by no means all the methods of gin distillation, but instead the most common.
Let’s begin with vapour infusion. This method is done by placing the different botanicals above the base spirit in a still. The still is then slowly heated up so the vapour rises up through the botanicals so they can infuse the vapour with flavour. The vapour is then run along a tube, cooled and turned back to a liquid. Depending on the desired bottling strength, water is then added to reduce the alcohol level. This method doesn’t have as high an alcohol content as the other methods but produces different flavours.
The next method, steeping, produces a stronger flavour and typically holds a higher alcohol level than vapour infusion, due to a much simple way of distilling the spirit. To begin this method, the botanicals are placed along with the base spirit in a still. Essentially the base spirit, which is sometimes vodka, soaks with the botanicals for around 24 hours, then voila! The finished product is ready.
As mentioned before, these are the definitive ways of gin distillation. There are all kinds of different ways to produce gin, sometimes they’re a combination of methods. Some companies steep their botanicals for 24 hours, then boil it and then use the vapour method. The distillation process for gin is a complex and varied affair. There are as many different methods for distilling gin as there are companies that produce it, as every single one of them have their own method unique to their company.
The difference between vodka and gin
You may have noticed we mentioned gin can be made from vodka. Does this mean gin is vodka? In short, no, it isn’t vodka. Vodka is a neutral spirit, brewed from grain, much like gin, with a fruit of some kind, specifically so it doesn’t have an aroma, taste or colour. Whereas gin, an aromatic drink, can have floral notes, with a punch of flavour and character. Gin can be made from vodka, but it doesn’t stay vodka. In the same way flour isn’t a cake but is still an essential ingredient to cake.
Is Gin gluten-free?
At first glance, this question may seem a little silly. Of course, gin doesn’t have gluten – It’s alcohol! But there is logic behind the question; remember that gin is distilled from a base spirit that may be made from grain such as wheat, rye or barley. Those with coeliac disease will know they can’t have any of those ingredients. Does this mean they will have to give up their favourite drink?
We’re happy to confirm that (in most cases) it is safe to continue sipping your G&Ts. uses grain as a base may be contaminated from the residual air whilst bottling the spirit. With that said though, always refer to the label on the bottle. If the gin contains or mentions gluten as part of its ingredients list, that usually means that the gin has been artificially flavoured after distillation and is therefore not recommended to those with coeliac. However, Stableviews Distillery Abrolhos Gin uses raw sugar instead of grain, so it is gluten-free, tasty, and safe to drink for those that have coeliac issues.
Try our limited edition Abrolhos Gin for a true taste of WA
So now that you know everything about gin, you should pour yourself a refill of that Dutch courage. While there are so many different flavours of gin out there to choose from, we highly recommend trying something extra special; our very own limited edition of Stableviews Distillery Abrolhos gin.
Stableviews Distillery Abrolhos Gin is inspired directly by The Houtman Abrolhos, a chain of 122 islands off the coast of Western Australia 60km from Geraldton. The islands contain some unique flora, most notably the saltbush, which is a key botanical ingredient in the gin. Abrolhos gin’s botanicals are handpicked, steeped for 48 hours, hand-milled and distilled over 3 days in a vapour basket. What comes out is an earthy, and herbaceous taste that captures the wonder of the Abrolhos Islands.
This is perfect to have straight off the rocks with a gin garnish pack and some green apple slices. As an award-winning Australian rum distillery, we know our alcohol and truly believe (and we are definitely not biased when we say) that Stableviews produces some of the best gin in Australia. Give it a try, you know you want to!