Gin: tutto quello che devi sapere sul Cuore di Ginepro. Storia, produzione e il nostro Gin delle Langhe.

Beloved, revered, always riding the wave: Gin is an alcoholic beverage named after the juniper berries used in its production. Discover more in our in-depth look.

Call it, if you wish, Heart of Juniper: Gin is a legendary liquor, whose ancient origins are rooted in the Middle Ages. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about the secrets of its production, you’re in the right place: let’s explore some historical background, how it’s made, and what Gin represents for us today.

Heart of Juniper: the History of Gin

How It Began

How Gin is made: the storyThe first evidence of the alcoholic drink considered the forerunner of modern Gin are medieval; they refer to a liquor primarily prepared in Belgium and the Netherlands, obtained through the distillation of malt and wheat with a subsequent infusion of juniper berries. It is precisely the term “juniper” (in Dutch, the berries of this shrub are called jeneverbes) that names Jenever, the spiritual father of Gin.

Do you know why this alcoholic beverage was flavored with Juniper? Because of the medicinal properties of this species. It was indeed believed to cure ailments such as gout and dyspepsia (a feeling of discomfort or actual pain in the upper abdomen).

In addition to the curative effect, juniper was essential to mask some defects of the liquor, caused by rough and imperfect distillation techniques.

When was the true Gin, the one we know today, born? If we have to pinpoint a specific historical period, we must go back to the 16th century and a key figure in the evolution of our liquor: William III of Orange.

The Dutch military leader occupied the Scottish and English thrones (along with his wife Mary) and facilitated the distillation of alcoholic beverages through the enactment of special statutes.

Soon, the volumes of Jenever produced exceeded those of beer, and local distilleries began to change the drink with more personal versions. Jenever became Gin, a simpler and… more British name!

The Dutch Courage and the Transition to Modernity

During the Thirty Years’ War, troops engaged in the Low Countries were accustomed to drinking warm Jenever before going into battle. They called this beverage Dutch Courage. Not only that: soldiers stationed in the British colonies used Gin to mask the bitter taste of quinine taken as an antimalarial. An idea that over time transformed into a very famous cocktail: the bitterness of quinine was covered by the flavor of the liquor, a bitterness that also characterizes tonic water… And the Gin Tonic is served!

Incentives for production centuries ago, widespread distribution of the product well beyond the English Channel, versatility of Gin in Mixology: a set of characteristics that have allowed this liquor to earn a prominent place in the Hall of Fame of Spirits worldwide.

How is Gin Made?

The production process requires that the neutral alcohol, obtained from the distillation of cereals, comes into contact with a selection of botanicals and inherits their taste and aromatic spectrum.

There are mainly 4 production techniques:

  • Infusion / Maceration

The botanicals are added to the alcohol for maceration (cold process) or in infusion (hot process). The intensity level desired depends on the infusion or maceration times. Generally, for more delicate flavors, the times are extended and the alcohol is kept at low temperatures. For a more pronounced result, the temperature of the neutral alcohol is raised and the maceration times are reduced.

  • Cold Distillation

The guiding principle of this method is as follows: the lower the pressure, the lower the temperature needed to achieve distillation. It is the ideal choice if delicate botanicals are used, which could be compromised by a higher temperature.

  • Steam

This method involves using steam to keep neutral alcohol and botanicals separate. There is no direct contact, but the steam passes through the aromas (wrapped in cotton pouches or filters) directly through the still. The steam enriched with the botanical aromas delicately flavors the liquor.

  • Blending

If the distiller chooses the Blending process, they proceed with the infusion and distillation of each individual botanical, to preserve as much of the fragrances and aromatic notes as possible. When the individual flavored distillates are ready, a blend is created that combines the distillates obtained in varying proportions to confer the desired flavor to the Gin.

Main Types of Gin

Let’s look at the main types of Gin available on the market. These are different styles, the result of distillers’ creativity and constant research. The official classification of Gin as provided by the European Union includes three main styles.

How Gin is made: the story

London Dry Gin

The most famous and widespread style: our Elena Gin is a London Dry (Langa Style!). It is a fresh, dry, and crisp distillate. The predominant aroma is juniper, the queen botanical of this type of Spirit, added for maceration or infusion. The regulations require that it be produced with traditional stills and that no additional flavors (natural or chemical) be added at the end of the distillation process.

Gin

To have a proper gin (according to the rules in the European Union) it is necessary to have an agricultural-based alcohol, with an alcohol content of at least 96 degrees. The addition of natural botanicals is allowed, and the Gin at the end of the production process must have an alcohol content higher than 37.5 degrees.

Distilled Gin

The term Distilled Gin designates a Gin that undergoes a second distillation immediately after the addition of botanicals. The final alcohol content must be equal to or higher than 37.5°.

Juniper-flavored Spirits

A juniper-flavored spirit differs from Gin in some key characteristics. It is a Spirit obtained by flavoring agricultural ethyl alcohol, grain spirit, or distilled grain with juniper berries. If the three Gins previously seen by regulation require that the juniper used be Juniperus Communis, the flavored Spirits can be produced with Juniperus Oxicedrus.

Gin from the Langhe: Elena Gin

For our Gin, we have chosen to embrace the London Dry style. Of course, we have allowed ourselves a touch of Piedmontese, indeed, a hint of Langa fragrances. The juniper is from the Maritime Alps, the elderflower comes from the Langhe, and also almond, thyme, Angelica flowers from the Alps, wild mint, chamomile, lemon and chinotto peel.

A journey between our region and the nearby Liguria, historically united by the Salt Road.

We produce it in Small Batch (small quantities of Spirit managed separately and then blended to achieve the exact aromatic profile we seek), with an 18th-century copper still. The process is fueled by wood, just like in the old days.

It is a One Shot Gin, distilled only once.

Have you ever tried our London Dry in Langa Style? Put it to the test and let us know what you think: share a photo of your cocktail on Instagram and tag our official page @elenaspirits.