The base spirit of a gin refers to the distillate to which botanicals were added. It’s helpful to think about the base spirit as a vodka-like spirit that the distiller used as a starting point— a blank canvas upon which the gin was designed.
But choice of base alone doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to taste it. Depending on choices the distiller makes, such as how many times the base is distilled, or to what strength it is distilled to— there might be no character at all coming from the base spirit.
Gin is rather unique among spirit categories. While many spirits are defined by the type of distillate— for gin this is not true. Gin can have any base spirit, and as long juniper is predominant. It’s gin.
Though most vodkas are distilled from grain, Potatoes have been popular for some time as a base spirit. Especially in eastern Europe and increasingly in recent years in the United States.
The choice of a potato base— especially one with residual potato spirit character— is not one to take likely. Potato can have a very distinctive and very divisive flavor. Some describe it as “musty,” “dank,” and “unctuous.” This is because potatoes have a great deal of impurities that can come out during the distillation process.
But when properly done, Potato base spirit has a rich, thick, almost fatty texture that is unlike what you can get from any other grain.