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American Dry Gin vs. London Dry – Why we need a new definition of London Dry Gin by cdbakunas
November 24, 2010, 9:58 am
Filed under: Libations | Tags: , , , ,

New American Dry Gin vs. London Dry Gin

Why we need a new definition of London Dry

History and differences

London Dry evolved out of a 17th/18th century style gin called Old Tom. Old Toms were bold style gins that tended to be slightly sweetened with sugars or orange flower water in order to mask impurities of the distillation process. Old Toms gave way to a cleaner, drier, juniper centric, higher quality gin named London Dry. But London Dry was never given any geographical designation, like Plymouth Gin, yet had become the standard of quality for gins across the globe by the mid 20th century while remaining loosely defined. The hallmark of London Dry Gins was only that it was neutral spirits infused with a combination of botanicals that was strongly led by juniper (that oh so pine tree quality that either attracts you or pushes you away).

Over the last ten years a new movement is afoot of small distillers making a distinction in the high quality production of gin attempting to create a new category. Thus the New Western Dry Gin or American Dry Gin category has begun to surface.

What is American Dry?  American Dry gin does not rely as heavily on juniper as its main aromatic and has a richer, rounder texture than the more precise and laser like pallet of traditional London Drys like Boodles or Bombay Saphire.  American Dry gins are made to explore a more balanced and complex aromatic that includes the use of traditional botanicals that dance together with greater equilibrium. Small’s American Dry Gin, to that end, has high tones of citrus and juniper that intermingle with cardamom, star anise and caraway. Small’s adds organic raspberries in the final distillation to not only lend a tender hint of red fruit on the finish, but more importantly add glycerin and texture to the spirit so that the mouth feel is deep and round rather than precise and pointed.

As small distillers create and replicate older gin traditions it will grow ever more important to distinguish a new category of gin, particularly in America where the revival of forgotten styles of gin is sweeping the restaurant and bar communities across the land. American Dry is rumbling and popping up across the country from coast to coast.


2 Comments so far
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If you were to categorise American Dry ‘Gin’ as not being dependant on the flavour of Juniper, you would not be able to call it ‘gin’ as by the spirit’s very definition in both Europe and the US, it’s predominant flavour must actually be Juniper. It’s an arguable case that some new wave American Gins can be labelled as gin at all at present…’Botanical Spirit’ would be a more accurate category description.

Comment by Ginner

You are absolutely right and never did I want to convey the lack of “predominant flavour” of juniper. American TTB Class and Type Designation states the characteristics for gin as…
“Spirits with a main characteristic
flavor derived from juniper berries
produced by distillation or mixing of
spirits with juniper berries and other
aromatics or extracts derived from
these materials and bottled at not
less than 40% alcohol by volume (80
Gin is gin and should always have juniper (whether it hails from Holland, England, America, etc) but pushing for more clear designations and classifications for gin is very important. American Dry, as a movement, is about capturing a regional, American essence of gin, and of course distilling gin with juniper. I like your term Botanical Spirit and I think that it applies to a great potential of flavor that could revolutionize the cocktail world, we only want to revolutionize gin!

Comment by cdbakunas

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