Everyone’s so into gin at the moment aren’t they? The original London liquor seems to have become the It-Spirit of the moment. But if you’re after someone who’s really into gin and who really knows their stuff, you need to speak to Joanne Moore. The world’s first Master Gin Distiller [yes, that is a job – please, don’t hand your notice in immediately], Moore is responsible for creating no less than three of our favourite gins: BLOOM, Berkeley Square London Dry and Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin.
She is also involved in the distillation of gins for a number of other brands; believe it or not, 60% of all gin produced in the UK has been overseen by Moore. And around 20% of all quality gins worldwide. So if you’re enjoying a G&T as you read this, you’ve Joanne Moore to thank for the experience. We had the chance to put our most important gin questions to the lady herself…
Why do you think gin has become so popular of late?
Gin offers diversity in terms of the different flavours you can use. Remember that we only have to add juniper berries to be classified as a gin, but a word of caution – whatever else we add in terms of flavour should always complement the perfumed notes of the juniper. Otherwise you run the risk of losing the identity of the gin. This diversity also allows the bar trade to create exciting cocktails that bring out the key notes in your gin that will appeal to gin aficionados – I truly believe there’s a gin style out there to suit every different palate.
People talk about botanicals – what do we need to know about those?
Botanicals are simply a collective term for herbs, spices, fruit peels and flowers. These are the natural products that are added to gin to give it flavour. We source our botanicals direct from the local regions and they come from all over Europe, Asia and Africa. Think of botanicals as ingredients that a chef would source to create a meal or that a perfumer would use to balance aromas.
Why does gin come from London?
Gin doesn’t have to come from London. G&J Distillers, who are based in Cheshire, have been distilling London Dry Gins since 1761 and are the oldest gin distillers in the world. The London reference is merely about the way in which a gin is produced. So, a London Dry Gin is distilled using traditional methods and all of the botanicals must be present inside the copper still at the time of distilling. The only thing you can add after the distillation is more spirit and water.
Any favourite brands of gin?
I have lots of favourite brands, it all depends on what sort of a day I have had, or the occasion that dictates my choice of gin.
So we’ve mastered the gin and tonic. What else should we be matching our gin with?
You can use a variety of other mixers that work well and complement the profile of the specific gin. For example, we pair Opihr Oriental Spiced Gin with ginger ale which helps bring out the warm spice and citrus notes. For BLOOM Gin, being light and floral, you can add rose lemonade or even sparkling water and a squeeze of grapefruit.
Gin with meals – a bit of a faux pas?
No not really, although I think people perceive gin being a spirit to be too heavy in alcohol to be enjoyed with food. However, if you combine it with an appropriate mixer it can work well with any dish. Traditionally G&T was taken as a pre-dinner drink as an aperitif in the UK, and in Spain, one of the largest gin markets in the world, they drink their G&T after the meal as a digestif. Different gins can work to complement main dishes or desserts, or you can always go for a gin over ice as a post-dinner digestif.
Is supermarket gin really that bad?
No, not at all! You might be surprised to learn that most of the supermarket gins are made using some of the same quality ingredients as the big name brands would use.
Where are your favourite bars to drink gin? And favourite gin cocktails?
Any good bar that knows how to showcase the gin profile in a cocktail so it does not lose its identity. My favourite cocktail at the moment is a French 75 – gin and bubbles. What better combination can you get?
What do you drink your gin with?
In the colder months I quite like a warm cocktail like an Opihr Hot Chai Brew which we have recently developed with port and chai tea, whereas in the summer I mainly drink French 75’s.