different types of gin

A Comprehensive Guide to 7 Different Types of Gin

Gin, a spirit renowned for its versatility and rich botanical flavour, has captivated the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide. Yet, it’s the variety, the different types of gin, that truly fascinates and bewilders many. This article sheds light on this diversity, leading you through a flavorful journey of gin’s most recognized forms.

What is Gin?

Image source: Pinterest

Gin is a distilled alcoholic beverage that falls into the broad category of spirits. A versatile and globally popular drink, it has a complex and intriguing identity shaped by various factors. At its core, gin is defined by a few specific characteristics that make it distinct.

1. Spirit Base: The base of all gin is a neutral grain spirit, similar to vodka. This spirit is often made from barley, corn, or wheat, and it’s this base that’s redistilled to create gin.

2. Predominant Flavor – Juniper Berries: By law, all gin must derive its primary flavor from juniper berries. These tiny berries contribute a unique, pine-like flavor that is instantly recognizable and sets gin apart from other spirits. While other botanicals can and often do play a role in the flavor of gin, the presence of juniper is non-negotiable.

3. Distillation and Botanicals: The process of making gin involves redistilling the grain spirit with a range of botanicals to infuse their flavors. Alongside juniper, these botanicals can include a wide variety of herbs, spices, fruits, and roots. The choice and balance of these botanicals give each gin its unique flavor profile. Common botanicals include coriander, angelica root, citrus peels, cardamom, and many more.

4. Variety of Styles: While all gins share a juniper-led flavor profile, the category is incredibly diverse. The process of making gin and the rules governing it can differ significantly depending on the style of gin being produced. This leads to a wide array of different types of gin on the market, each with its unique characteristics, flavor profiles, and uses.

Understanding these key points is crucial to appreciating the world of gin. It’s a spirit with a rich tapestry of flavors and styles, with each type offering a unique perspective on how the core elements of grain spirit and juniper can be interpreted. 

What are the Different Types of Gin?

1. London Dry Gin

Image source: Pinterest

Arguably the most recognized and globally popular style of gin, London Dry Gin sets the standard for many when it comes to the classic gin profile. Contrary to what its name might suggest, this type of gin does not need to be produced in London, or indeed any part of England. The term “London Dry” is actually a reference to the method of production and a set of regulatory standards.

The essential characteristic of London Dry Gin is its sharp, crisp character and strong juniper profile. The use of botanicals is carefully balanced so as not to overpower the fundamental juniper flavor. All flavorings are natural, and the gin is redistilled with these botanicals to infuse their flavors. Notably, nothing can be added after distillation, except for water and a small amount of sugar.

Some of the most popular brands of London Dry Gin include Tanqueray, Beefeater, and Bombay Sapphire. They are known for their excellent balance of flavors and versatility in cocktail making, especially in drinks where the gin’s flavor needs to stand out, such as in a Martini or a Gin and Tonic.

2. Plymouth Gin

Image source: Pinterest

Plymouth Gin holds a unique position in the world of gin. It is both a brand and a style of gin, but the two are inextricably linked because only gin made in the Plymouth Gin Distillery can legally be called Plymouth Gin. This distillery, based in the historical port city of Plymouth in southwest England, has been operating since 1793.

Plymouth Gin is a full-bodied gin with a slightly less dry character compared to its London Dry counterpart. It offers a balanced, smooth taste with a strong juniper note and a distinctive earthiness due to a higher proportion of root botanicals. The citrus notes are more on the sweet side, with an emphasis on orange rather than lemon. This combination gives Plymouth Gin a deep, creamy, and aromatic profile.

Plymouth Gin is superb in cocktails, working particularly well in fruitier cocktails or where a less piney gin is preferred.

3. Old Tom Gin

Image source: Pinterest

Old Tom Gin is a historical style of gin that bridges the gap between the malty Dutch Genever and the dry, crisp London Dry Gin. Its name is said to come from wooden plaques shaped like a black cat (an “Old Tom”) on the outside of some pubs in 18th-century England.

This style of gin is known for its slightly sweet taste. It’s often considered smoother and rounder than London Dry Gin, yet not as sweet as Genever. The sweetness, originally derived from licorice or sugar, mellows the juniper’s piney flavor.

In recent years, Old Tom Gin has enjoyed a resurgence due to the cocktail renaissance and the revival of classic cocktails. Brands like Hayman’s and Ransom produce Old Tom Gins that are popular with craft bartenders and gin enthusiasts.

4. Genever

Image source: Pinterest

Genever, also known as Jenever or Dutch gin, is the forerunner of modern gin. Originating from the Netherlands and Belgium, Genever represents a vastly different style of gin compared to those mentioned above.

Genever is made with a base of “malt wine” (moutwijn), a mix of corn, rye, and barley that’s distilled at a low proof to retain more of the grain flavor. This gives Genever its distinct, malty, and almost whiskey-like profile. It’s then redistilled with botanicals, with juniper being prominent, hence the name Genever, derived from ‘jeneverbes’, the Dutch word for juniper.

Genever comes in two main styles: Oude (Old) and Jonge (Young). Despite the names, they don’t refer to aging but to the methods of production. Oude Genever uses more of the malt wine, resulting in a richer, maltier flavor. Jonge Genever, on the other hand, has a lighter taste, with a profile closer to neutral spirits.

Prominent Genever producers include Bols, Van Wees, and Diep 9. Due to its unique taste profile, Genever is often enjoyed neat or in simple, classic cocktails like the Dutch Negroni or the Old Fashioned.

5. New American (International) Gin

Image source: Pinterest

New American or International Gin represents a modern and innovative approach to gin-making. This category is less bound by the traditions and strict regulations that define other gin styles. Instead, these gins tend to experiment with a wider range of botanicals and often de-emphasize the juniper to allow other flavors to take center stage.

The flavor profile of New American gins can vary widely depending on the botanicals used. Some might lean towards floral notes with ingredients like lavender or elderflower, while others might showcase spicy or citrusy characters.

Brands like Aviation and Death’s Door are typical examples of this category. Aviation American Gin, for instance, pushes the boundaries of the classic gin profile with a unique blend of botanicals like sarsaparilla and lavender, offering a less juniper-forward flavor. These gins are perfect for those who prefer a less traditional taste or want to experiment with unique gin cocktails.

6. Navy Strength Gin

Image source: Pinterest

As the name suggests, Navy Strength Gin is robust and high-proof, usually bottled at 57% ABV. The term “Navy Strength” comes from the British Royal Navy, who, in the 18th and 19th centuries, would test the gin’s proof by seeing if it could ignite gunpowder. If the mix of gin and gunpowder could still burn, it was “proof” that the gin was strong enough, thus “Navy Strength.”

Despite its high alcohol content, a good Navy Strength Gin will maintain a balanced flavor. The potent nature of this gin style means that its flavor can cut through in cocktails, making it a favorite for many bartenders.

Plymouth Navy Strength is a well-known brand in this category, offering a robust version of their traditional gin that maintains its smoothness and balance even at a higher proof. Another example is Perry’s Tot from New York Distilling Company, which packs an intense yet harmonious array of botanical flavors.

7. Sloe Gin

Image source: Pinterest

Sloe Gin is technically not a gin but a gin-based liqueur. It’s made by infusing gin with sloe berries, a type of wild plum, and sugar. This infusion results in a drink that’s sweet, fruity, and slightly tart. The alcohol content is typically lower than standard gin, usually around 20-30% ABV.

Sloe Gin has a long tradition in England, where the sloe berries grow in abundance. It’s typically sipped neat or used in cocktails like the Sloe Gin Fizz.

Brands like Sipsmith and Boodles produce highly regarded Sloe Gins. Sipsmith Sloe Gin, for example, is made using their award-winning London Dry Gin as the base, which is then infused with wild sloe berries picked in the autumn. The result is a perfectly balanced liqueur, bursting with juicy fruitiness and a hint of marzipan, which is a characteristic note in many sloe gins.

Different Types of Gin Drinks

1. Gin and Tonic

Image source: Pinterest

Perhaps the most popular gin cocktail, the Gin and Tonic is the quintessential highball cocktail made with gin and tonic water, poured over ice, and usually garnished with a slice of lime or lemon. The simplicity of this drink allows the gin’s botanicals to shine. A London Dry Gin, such as Tanqueray or Beefeater, is a classic choice for this cocktail, as its crisp juniper-forward profile stands up well against the tonic.

2. Martini

Image source: Pinterest

The Martini is another iconic gin cocktail, consisting of gin and dry vermouth, typically garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. The Martini is usually associated with the London Dry Gin style, as its dry, complex flavor beautifully complements the vermouth. Brands like Bombay Sapphire or Gordon’s work particularly well.

3. Negroni

Image source: Pinterest

A Negroni is a bitter, yet balanced, cocktail made of equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. The juniper notes and strength of a good London Dry or Navy Strength Gin, such as Plymouth Navy Strength, stand up well to the strong flavors of Campari and vermouth.

4. Bramble

Image source: Pinterest

The Bramble is a British cocktail made with gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, and crème de mûre, a blackberry liqueur. The fruity, sweet-tart flavor profile of this cocktail pairs beautifully with a more fruit-forward gin like a Plymouth Gin or a New American Gin.

5. Tom Collins

Image source: Pinterest

The Tom Collins is a refreshing, citrusy cocktail made with gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water. Given the cocktail’s name, it’s traditionally made with Old Tom Gin. The slight sweetness of the Old Tom Gin works harmoniously with the cocktail’s other ingredients.

6. Sloe Gin Fizz

Image source: Pinterest

The Sloe Gin Fizz is a classic cocktail that’s light, refreshing, and slightly fruity. It’s made with Sloe Gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda water. The inherent sweetness and fruitiness of the Sloe Gin, like that from Sipsmith or Boodles, are balanced by the tart lemon juice and effervescence from the soda.

7. Genever Cocktails

Image source: Pinterest

Traditional Genever cocktails are often quite simple, to allow the unique maltiness of the Genever to shine through. The Dutch Negroni replaces the gin with Genever for a maltier twist on the classic, and the Kopstootje is a traditional Dutch way to enjoy Genever, where it’s served alongside a beer.

These are just a few examples of the many cocktails you can create with different types of gin. The wide array of gin styles available today allows for endless experimentation and creativity in crafting cocktails.


The wide range of different types of gin speaks to the spirit’s incredible versatility and depth. Each type offers a unique taste profile, opening up a world of possibilities for cocktail enthusiasts and spirit connoisseurs alike. So, venture forth and let your palate explore the rich diversity that gin has to offer.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.