A Guide to Gin – The Spirit for Everyone

Gin is one of the most popular spirits in the world. It’s also one of the oldest and has evolved into a spirit that can be enjoyed. Here’s everything you need to know about it: how it’s made, what makes it unique, and more.

The gin in NZ is proliferating. It has grown by 30% in the last five years alone. This growth is likely due to the increasing popularity of cocktails and other mixed drinks—it is an essential ingredient for many popular cocktails, including martinis and Manhattans.

Gin production in New Zealand began in 1832 when settlers from England introduced the spirit to the area. It wasn’t until 1999 that New Zealand’s first craft distillery opened its doors, but since then, more and more distilleries have opened up around the country, and new ones are opening every year.

What’s so special about it?

Gin in NZ is made by distilling a neutral grain spirit with juniper berries, coriander seeds and other botanicals. The process begins with the fermentation of organic or non-organic grains such as wheat or rye. The fermented liquid is then distilled in a pot still, which involves heating it to separate its vapours from liquids. The vapours collected from this process are cooled down and reassembled into different types of spirits, including gin and vodka.

Its distinctive flavour comes from juniper berries, which is why it’s called instead of just calling it “spirits”, like whisky (made from barley) or rum (made from molasses).


The history is fascinating, and you’ll discover the following facts about this spirit:

  • It originated in Holland, where it was first called genever.
  • The word derives from the Dutch word for Juniper Berries.
  • A recent innovation was grain alcohol as a base for making it instead of wine or beer. This change allowed distillers to produce a clear spirit without adding colour.


The distilleries are popping up all over the place, and many are getting creative with their recipes. The classic London Dry style remains popular, but plenty of other variations use unusual ingredients like lavender, sarsaparilla root or even nettles (yes, you read that right).

One thing has stayed the same: it is still versatile when mixing drinks. If you’re looking for something simple and elegant, try a Gin & Tonic or Martini—or if you’re feeling adventurous and want to experiment with more complex flavours than just lime juice and tonic water.


Gin is made from grain alcohol and botanicals, including juniper berries, angelica root and coriander seeds. The most common botanicals are juniper berries, angelica root, coriander seeds and orris root. These are distilled with alcohol to create a different flavour profile infusion.

The two main types include London dry and Old Tom. London dry ones tend to be lighter in colour with less body than Old Tom ones – although this rule doesn’t always apply (see Plymouth).

Old Tom one was famous during the Victorian era when it was produced by adding sugar during the distillation process to give a sweeter flavour profile; this technique has since been discontinued.

Today, it’s hard to find one that doesn’t have some sugar added during production; however, it’s less common for this sweetening agent to be added during the distillation process.


In all its forms, gin is a spirit that anyone can enjoy. Finding the right ones for your tastes may take some time, but there are wide varieties to try with so much history behind them.

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