Home > Blog > The 5 Different Types of Gin and What to Expect | Doug Fairbrother | Posted July 2019
The 5 Types of Gin

The 5 Different Types of Gin and What to Expect

London dry gin, Plymouth gin, genever…it’s all just flavoured vodka, right? Not so fast! While it is true that gin distillers do not ferment gin like most liquors, that does not mean that it is merely flavoured vodka. Each type of gin has a unique flavour and each distilling method can create endless possibilities of flavour simply with the addition of a few different botanicals.

Here we breakdown the traditional types of gin and explain what makes them different.

London Dry Gin

You can think of London dry gin as the British equivalent of American whiskey. It carries a similar name and process as its namesake, but you would never tell someone from Ireland that whisky and whiskey are the same. Likewise, you never want to tell someone from Holland that gin and genever are the same.

London dry gin is the archetypical gin that comes to mind when most people think of gin. While some distillers add citrus peels to add to the flavour, the most noticeable taste of London dry gin is the juniper flavour.

Typically this is the type of gin you will want for your classic martini, gin and tonics, and aviation cocktails.

Plymouth Gin

Until 2015 Plymouth gin referred to any gin produced in Plymouth, England. Today this is not the case however, as Plymouth gin now refers to a single brand, Black Friars Distillery.

Less dry than your London Dry Gin, Plymouth gin has a mellow juniper flavour and adds more of a citrus tone to the gin. The slightly bitter flavour compared to other types of gin makes it ideal for martinis and negroni’s.

Genever

Ah, the original gin. Genever, or as people called it in the 13th century, jenever, is the first iteration of gin and originates in Holland with the Dutch. Genever is unique among gin in that it doesn’t start with neutral grain alcohol.

Distillers make genever with alcohol produced from malted grains. This creates a much more robust flavour compared to unmalted grains as well as giving the Dutch gin a far darker colour.

Genever is a very rich spirit, but it does lack the citrus flavour many other gins have and is typically sipped straight rather than mixed into cocktails or with tonics.

Old Tom Gin

Old Tom gin was initially known as “bathtub gin” as people would originally make their gin at home in their, well, bathtub. Today, however, it refers to gin that is sweeter and richer than London dry gin. The sweetness is from added liquorice.

Some distillers are also known to age this gin in wine barrels, adding a caramel colour and making the gin slightly richer. Its most famously used for making Tom Collins, Gin Rickey’s and Martinez cocktails.

New American Style Gin

New American Style gin, also known as New Western gin, is a newcomer to our list here. When I say new, I mean new. This style gin only began to make an appearance in the late 1990s, and the term was not coined until the mid-2000s.

New American style gin still contains juniper, and therefore can be called gin, but it is not the primary flavouring. This makes New American style gin difficult to put a label on. Since it is a new style of an old drink, there are as many variations as there are distillers, likely more. This style of gin typically has sweeter flavours added yet can be as mild as cucumber or as strong as grape.

Well, there you have it…

…the five styles of gin you can find today. If you are new to gin, be sure to try out each of these styles to find the best one for you. I’d also recommend trying several brands of New American style gin simply because it has not been standardised to any degree yet, and therefore a lot of variety to be had.