Do you know the difference between a London Dry and a Distilled Gin?

World Best Bar

Apr 06, 2020

Do you know the difference between a London Dry and a Distilled Gin?
Here’s a clue - It has nothing to do with London. It’s more a matter of quality and of style.

Whether Distilled or London Dry, both gins will make an excellent cocktail or a delicious Gin and Tonic. It is useful, however, to remember a few key points when creating the perfect blend.

If it tastes good…

Does that mean it’s a London Dry?

Before we explain the technical differences between the two forms of gin, let’s talk drinks. Most traditional recipes were created using London Dry, its strong juniper flavors (like pine) shining through. This hence became the commonly utilized gin. Distilled gins, however, offer a variety of tastes, so it’s harder to pinpoint their flavor. Let’s just say that they tend to add a floral or fruity dimension to your drink. This flavor variety means that they often work better in light, refreshing cocktails or in recipes that include aromatic herbs.

Gin from the same source

Now for the finer details. All London Drys are Distilled Gins, but not all Distilled Gins are London Drys. Both are the product of double distilling. In simple terms, this is when distillers start with farm-derived alcohol distilled with an alcohol content of at least 96% – a very high level of purity. This spirit is then re-distilled with added flavorings, the key ingredient of course being that of juniper berries.

London, although not always the city

Nowadays, London Dry’s only link to the city is its name

The term “London Dry” is actually a quality designation. The base alcohol must be of top quality, made only of natural flavors, with nothing but water (for dilution purposes) being added after the second distillation. London Dry gins are extracted from the still at a potency of 70% and are sold at around 40%. No colors or sweeteners can be added. London Dry reflects a certain style and method of production. Even though this gin was created in London, the term is today a quality designation, rather than an origin determinant. London Drys can be made anywhere in the world.

For its refined ingredients

If regulations around the production of London Dry are more stringent, does this mean that a Distilled Gin is of poorer quality? Not at all. There are excellent Distilled Gins and truly awful London Drys. Regulations establish the necessary minimum, but producers are free to set the bar higher. Many Distilled Gin brands follow London Dry guidelines almost to a tee. But they are not allowed to describe themselves as London Dry for one simple reason: they add flavors after distillation. In a good quality gin, these will of course be natural flavorings. So why not just distill them? The answer is simple: some ingredients cannot survive the distillation process. For example, if your gin contains cucumber or rose, it’s probably a Distilled Gin.

Now you know the basics, you’re ready for action! Remember to let your palate be your guide. Give it a go and you’ll see that the same cocktail made first with a London Dry, then with a Distilled Gin, offers two distinctive experiences. It’s up to you to choose your favorite – or the one you fancy on this particular occasion.

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