London Dry is the most widely known Gin all over the world. Juniper occupies central stage, just as defined in the technical specifications with which any Gin must comply to have the London Dry designation.
This designation defines the distillation method and characteristics of the final product, especially the level of alcohol – always higher than 37,5 volumes – the aromatisation of the alcohol, distilling only with the botanicals, and dilution only with water post-distillation.
Taxes imposed by the Gin Act of 1751, the last of 8, forced a rise in the price of Gin. This price rise however had its benefits. Once the product was more expensive, better quality Gin was demanded. Gin was now sweetened with sugar to correspond to the client’s taste, and not, as previously, to mask its many imperfections.
The advances in the distillation process guaranteed spirits of better and better quality and, over time, the sweeteners were removed. Now in the Victorian age and a healthier lifestyle was in vogue, the glory days of low quality Old Tom were coming to an end and the London Dry Gins started to appear. London Dry was drier and more neutral and it was found to be more useful for mixing.
One of the inventions that marked this jump in quality was the Fractional Column Still which permitted continuous distillation, with clear gains in efficiency and surgical rectifications during the distillation process, not just at the end. New botanicals such as citrus peels, coriander seed, angelica or lily root became common in the list of ingredients used and brought to Gin new aromas, while juniper remained its top billing.
The London Dry designation determines the production method not its location. London Dry Gin can be produced in London or in any other part of the world, as long as it respects the rules which define it:
1. It must be produced with a neutral alcohol based made from the fermentation of agricultural produce (rice, beet, cereals, grape must, apple etc.). The neutral alcohol must be as pure as possible, or rather, it must be mostly composed of ethanol, with no more than 5 grams per hectolitre of methanol in 100% ABV equivalent.
2. Aromatisation can only be made via distillation of the neutral alcohol (ethanol) with the botanicals.
3. The spirit obtained has to contain at least 70 parts alcohol per 100 distilled.
4. The addition of sweeteners post-distillation cannot exceed 0,1 grams per litre of Gin (final product).
5. Dilution must be made exclusively with water, the addition of colourants or aromas not being permitted.
6. The final level of alcohol must be 37.5 vol or higher.