In Good Spirits?
If you were asked to name an alcoholic spirit, there’s every chance Gin or Vodka would spring to mind. They’re firm favourites with drinkers everywhere. But do you know how they’re made and what makes them different. Here’s the lowdown…
Records of vodka production in Russia and Poland date back to the 9th century. The name stems from the Slavic word ‘voda’, meaning water or the Polish ‘wódka’. Demand saw cheap, lower grade vodka being made in thousands of distilleries across Russia – often from potato mash – and an epidemic of drunkenness so bad that the production and distribution of vodka came under state control!
The 1917 Russian Revolution led to many vodka makers fleeing the country, taking their expertise and recipes with them. In the 1930’s, one such exile set up the first vodka distillery in the USA! His name? Vladimir Smirnov!
Vodka is made by the distillation of starch or sugar rich plant matter – most commonly fermented cereal grains, sugar beet or potatoes. Grapes, molasses, soya, rice and even wood-pulp can be used too! Distillation and filtering can see the final abv of vodka reach 96%. As such, most vodka is diluted with water prior to bottling!
The earliest confirmed date for the production of gin is the early 17th century – in Holland – where it was sold as a medicine under the name jenever. British troops fighting during the Thirty Years War were given ‘Dutch Courage’ to fend off the damp and cold. When William of Orange came to the English throne in 1689 he brought in statutes to actively encourage the distillation of English spirits. thousands of distilleries opened and gin sales soon exceeded that of more expensive beer and ale, gin even being given to some workers as part of their wages! By the 18th century, drunkenness, vice, madness and death caused by drink was rife – perfectly encapsulated in 1751 by William Hogarth’s ‘Gin Lane’ – estimates of gin production in London at that time being 14 gallons for every adult male.
Government legislation and licensed retailers under the supervision of magistrates led to respectable firms embarking upon the production of gin, leading to it becoming the high quality spirit we have today.
Gin is produced by distilling a fermentation of grain with flavouring being added through the use juniper, plus as many as ten other ‘botanicals’, including coriander; angelica; citrus peel; cinnamon and nutmeg. Every producer has their own secret recipe, which is why there’s such a choice of gin flavours.
London gin must be distilled to at least 70% abv, must not contain any artificial ingredients, can not have any flavours or colourings added after distillation and can only contain a minute amount of sugar. Whilst London gin can be produced anywhere, Plymouth gin has to be distilled in Plymouth.
A good mixer is absolutely essential to making a good drink and should no longer be considered an afterthought. If a customer is willing to spend money on a quality gin or vodka, it doesn’t make
sense to pair it with an inferior mixer. Since launching in 2005, Fever-Tree have pioneered a whole new mixer category using the highest quality, hand-sourced natural ingredients, making tonic and mixers an ingredient in their own right. Fever-Tree’s range uses perfect carbonation which consists of smaller bubbles for a smoother and more intense taste. By replacing cloying saccharin sweeteners and artificial preservatives with natural botanicals and flavours, Fever-Tree has created delicious mixers that have been designed to complement and enhance the world’s finest spirits. Their belief is that if three quarters of a drink is mixer, then it should be the best.
The quinine in Fever-Tree’s tonics comes from the last remaining plantation of fever trees in East Congo. Their classic Indian Tonic it is mixed with eight botanicals, including rare ingredients such as marigold extracts and hand pressed orange oils from Tanzania. Simply put, by using botanicals which are the same high quality as those used in premium spirits, their mixers enhance rather than mask the gin and vodka in long drinks.
Gluten free. Distilled in France from French grapes.
Dutch distilled in a copper ‘ketel’ for the smoothest possible finish. Available in Oranje & Citroen flavours too.
Russian Standard Vodka
Distilled in St. Petersburg. Russia’s No.1 Premium vodka.
Tanqueray No. Ten
Small batch gin using fresh citrus fruits (grapefruits, orange and limes), camomile flowers and other hand selected botanicals. Super premium!
Tanqueray London Dry
One of the world’s most awarded gins. Distilled four times using juniper, coriander, liquorice and angelica botanicals.
Click for some Fever-Tree drink recipes Fever-Tree’s Ultimate Summer Cup, Fever-Tree’s Gin & Tonic, Mediterranean Fizz & Moscow Mule then email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about their free bespoke gin & tonic menus…