TL;DR, a glossary of gin terms

Botanical— an ingredient of natural origin whose flavor is added to gin by one of three primary means: vapor distillation, maceration and distillation, or pure maceration (sometimes called infusion).
[Read more on Botanicals in Gin]

Base Spirit— The organic material that was fermented and distilled to create the spirit to which the botanicals were added. In other words was your gin distilled from grape, grain, or something else?
[Read More about the base spirits of gin]

Bathtub Gin— Gin that doesn’t undergo a distillation after the botanicals are added. See Maceration

Classic Gin— Gin that strongly tastes like juniper
[Read more on Classic style Gin]

Contemporary Gin— Gin that includes juniper but may not taste strongly of juniper or may have other botanicals that are more prominently featured
[Read more on Contemporary style gin]

Distillation— According to the Oxford Dictionary it is the action of purifying a liquid by a process of heating and cooling. In gin it can refer to one of two steps in making a gin. The base spirit is created by distilling the ethanol released by yeasts during the fermentation process. Botanicals are added by distilling that spirit in the presence of flavoring materials including juniper.

Finish— The way a drink fades from the palate. Often times this might be the lingering flavor that you taste a few seconds after sipping, or it may be other sensations including astringency (dry out the mouth), heat (burn from the ethanol) or bitterness (from tannins in aged gins or from botanicals in bathtub gins).

Ginever— a portmanteau to describe a gin made in the style of genever, but often made in a place that cannot legally use the geographically protected term “genever” to describe their product.
[Also see Holland-style gin]

International Style Gin— a term coined in the early 2010’s by writers out of New York City to describe Contemporary Style gin without using a place-based designation. This term has generally fallen out of favor, but it is still seen in some pieces from the era. See New American Gin, New Western Gin, Contemporary Style Gin.

London Dry Gin— a process designation enscribed in European Union Law. London Dry means that botanicals are added exclusively through distillation, no added sweetening and the base spirit was distilled up to 96% ABV before botanical addition.
[Read More on London Dry Gin]

Maceration— the process by which an ingredient is left to sit in a spirit for a prolonged period of time. In Bathtub style gins, the botanicals may be macerated and then the gin bottled. In distilled gins, the botanicals are filtered out and then the spirit is re-distilled.

New American Gin— a term used to describe modern gins that go light on juniper. There is no agreed upon definition. See Contemporary Gin, New Western Style Gin, International Gin.
[Read More]

New Western Gin— another poorly defined term for gins that feature botanical flavors other than juniper. See New American Gin, Contemporary Style Gin.

Nose— The aroma of a gin.

Old Tom— a type of gin that was popular in the 19th century. The definition is not agreed upon by gin scholars; however, many gins of this style utilize sweetening or strong botanicals to provide a sweetening affect.
[Read more on Old Tom Style Gin]

Palate— The taste of a gin

Terroir— The idea that a place and climate where something comes from uniquely impacts its flavor.

Vapor Distillation/Infusion— When a spirit is distilled, the ethanol evaporates into steam. During vapor infusion, the steam heats the botanical (often in a gin basket)

Yellow Gin— An archaic term for gins aged in barrels

If this glossary isn’t extensive enough, David T. Smith’s The Gin Dictionary is an excellent comprehensive guide to all of the jargon we use in the world of gin.

Leave a Reply