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Contemporary-Gin

Contemporary Gin – Everything You Need To Know

Contemporary Gin represents a bold departure from the traditional juniper-forward profile, marking a new era in the world of spirits. This modern variant stands out for its innovative distillation processes and the incorporation of unique botanicals, offering a diverse spectrum of flavors that range from the subtly floral to the distinctly herbaceous. Artisanal producers are at the forefront of this movement, crafting small-batch gins that cater to a more adventurous palate. With its versatility in mixology, Contemporary Gin is not just redefining the boundaries of this classic spirit. Still, it is also reshaping the cocktail culture, inviting enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike to explore its rich, nuanced, and often unexpected taste profiles.

The Kyoto Distillery – Ki No Tea Dry Gin



As we venture deeper into the 21st century, the spirits industry is witnessing a renaissance, and at the heart of this revolution is Contemporary Gin. Moving beyond the classic London Dry, this modern interpretation is not just a drink; it’s a canvas for creativity, a testament to the artisanal spirit, and a nod to the adventurous palates of today’s connoisseurs.

What is Contemporary Gin?

Contemporary Gin, often referred to as “New Western” or “New Wave” Gin, marks a bold departure from the traditional. While the quintessential juniper flavor remains a cornerstone, these modern gins are characterized by their unique and often daring botanical blends. Producers are now infusing their spirits with locally sourced herbs, exotic spices, and even floral and fruit notes, creating a complex and nuanced taste profile that challenges and delights in equal measure.

The versatility of Contemporary Gin has reinvigorated the world of mixology. The array of flavors and aromas available makes these gins exceptionally adaptable, opening up a galaxy of cocktail possibilities. From the refreshing simplicity of a gin and tonic to more elaborate concoctions, Contemporary Gin invites mixologists to push boundaries and consumers to broaden their horizons.

Tasting a Contemporary Gin is about savoring the experience. It’s about noticing the subtle hints of citrus, the gentle whisper of rose, or the warm embrace of cardamom. It’s about appreciating the craftsmanship that transforms a humble spirit into a masterpiece of flavor and aroma. As we look forward, the trajectory of Contemporary Gin seems boundless. With sustainability and local sourcing becoming increasingly important, we can expect to see gins that not only taste good but also do good, reflecting the values of a new generation of drinkers and makers.

Contemporary Gin is not just changing the game; it’s redefining it. It’s a celebration of innovation, an homage to tradition, and, above all, a tribute to the art of fine drinking. So here’s to Contemporary Gin – a toast to the future, one sip at a time. Cheers!

History of Contemporary Gin 

The history of contemporary gin often referred to as “New Wave” or “Craft” gin, is a relatively recent chapter in the long and storied history of gin itself. This modern evolution of gin started gaining significant momentum in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Here’s a brief overview of how contemporary gin came to be:

Historical Context

Traditional gin, with its strong juniper flavor, has roots stretching back to the 17th century in Holland and later in England. For centuries, the profile of gin remained relatively unchanged, with a strong focus on juniper as the predominant botanical.

Changing Tastes

By the late 20th century, consumer preferences began to shift. People started seeking more variety and complexity in their spirits. The rise of the cocktail culture and the growing interest in artisanal and craft products set the stage for a gin revolution.

The Craft Distillery Movement

The emergence of craft distilleries in the late 20th and early 21st centuries played a crucial role in the evolution of contemporary gin. These small-scale producers placed a strong emphasis on quality, artisanal methods, and local ingredients. They were not bound by the conventions of large-scale production, allowing for more experimentation and innovation.

Innovative Botanicals and Flavor Profiles

Distillers began experimenting with a wide array of botanicals beyond juniper. This led to the creation of gins with diverse flavor profiles, incorporating everything from citrus, floral, and herbal notes to spices and exotic fruits. The idea was to create a more approachable and versatile spirit that could appeal to a wider audience and offer new experiences for gin enthusiasts.

Regulatory Changes

In some regions, changes in distillation laws and regulations made it easier for small distilleries to enter the market. For example, changes to UK distillation laws in the late 2000s led to a surge in craft distilleries and an explosion of new gin brands.

Global Expansion and Recognition

The contemporary gin movement quickly spread beyond its initial hubs. New distilleries popped up around the world, each bringing their local flavors and traditions to their products. International competitions and awards helped to legitimize and celebrate the quality and innovation found in contemporary gin.

Contemporary gin represents a convergence of tradition and innovation. It honors the rich history of gin while embracing the new, reflecting the changing tastes and creative spirit of modern distillers and consumers. As it continues to evolve, contemporary gin remains a dynamic and exciting category within the world of spirits.

Did You Know?

  • Contemporary gin distillers source botanicals from all over the world. Some gins might include rare African botanicals, Asian spices, or herbs sourced from the distillery’s local region, reflecting a global palate in every sip.
  • Some craft distillers use unique distillation techniques, such as vapor infusion or using specially designed stills, to create a distinct flavor profile for their gin.
  • Culinary techniques and ingredients inspire many contemporary gin makers. Some gins are crafted with a chef’s touch, using methods like fat-washing or infusing with flavors from fruits, herbs, and even exotic spices.
  • Contemporary gin brands often put a lot of thought into their bottle design and branding, with some bottles becoming collector’s items due to their artistic and unique designs.

How Adaptable is Contemporary Gin?

Contemporary gin is highly adaptable, a characteristic that has been central to its surge in popularity and its evolving role in the spirits industry. This adaptability is evident in several key aspects:

Flavor Profiles

One of the most notable features of contemporary gin is its diverse range of flavor profiles. Unlike traditional gins, which are predominantly juniper-flavored, contemporary gins incorporate a wide array of botanicals, allowing for a spectrum of tastes and aromas. This makes contemporary gin adaptable to individual preferences and suitable for a variety of cocktails.

Cocktail Versatility

The complexity and variety of contemporary gins make them highly versatile in mixology. They can be the star of a drink, providing the primary flavor profile, or they can be used more subtly to complement other ingredients. Contemporary gins can be used in classic gin cocktails, like the Gin and Tonic or Martini, or innovative new creations by mixologists.

Pairing with Food

The varied flavor profiles of contemporary gin also make it suitable for pairing with a wide range of foods. Distillers often design their gins with certain flavor notes that can complement specific dishes, much like wine pairing.

Cultural Adaptability

Contemporary gin has transcended cultural boundaries. Local distilleries around the world craft gin that reflects their regional botanicals and cultural preferences, making gin a truly global spirit.

Seasonal Adaptations

Many contemporary gin producers create seasonal variations of their products. For example, they might produce a gin with warming spices for the winter months or with floral or citrus notes for the summer.

Innovative Production Techniques

The craft nature of contemporary gin production allows distillers to experiment with different distillation methods, aging processes, and infusion techniques. This adaptability in the production process means that the possibilities for new and unique gins are almost limitless.

Consumer Engagement

Contemporary gin brands are known for their engagement with consumers, often taking feedback and preferences into account. This makes the spirit adaptable to market trends and consumer tastes, allowing brands to evolve and innovate continuously.

In essence, contemporary gin is not just a spirit; it’s a platform for creativity and expression, both for the distillers who craft it and the consumers who enjoy it. Its adaptability is a key reason for its growing popularity and its status as a staple in bars and homes worldwide.

Contemporary Gin Regulations

Contemporary Gin, while innovative and diverse in its botanical range and flavor profiles, still adheres to certain regulations to ensure quality and authenticity, primarily governed by regional and international standards. In the European Union, gin is classified into distinct categories like ‘Gin,’ ‘Distilled Gin,’ and ‘London Gin,’ each with specific production requirements, particularly concerning the distillation process and the use of natural botanicals. The predominant flavor must be juniper, and the minimum alcohol content is set at 37.5%. While the U.S. also mandates a predominant juniper flavor, it requires a minimum alcohol content of 40%. Despite these regulations, contemporary gin producers enjoy a considerable degree of creative freedom, especially in the choice and composition of botanicals beyond juniper, allowing them to craft a wide array of unique and complex gins that push the traditional boundaries of the spirit while maintaining their core identity.

What are the Ingredients in Contemporary Gin?

Contemporary gin is known for its diverse range of flavors, which stem from the various botanicals used in its production. The base ingredient in all gins is juniper berries, which impart the distinct, piney flavor traditionally associated with gin. However, contemporary gins distinguish themselves by incorporating an array of other botanicals, leading to a wide spectrum of taste profiles. Here are some common ingredients found in contemporary gin:

  • Juniper Berries
  • Citrus Peels
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Angelica Root
  • Orris Root
  • Cardamom Pods
  • Licorice Root
  • Cassia Bark
  • Grains of Paradise
  • Cubeb berries
  • Almonds
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Floral and Fruity Botanicals
  • Local and Exotic Botanicals

What are the Tools Used to Make Contemporary Gin?

  • Still (Pot, Column, Vacuum)
  • Botanical Basket
  • Maceration Tanks
  • Neutral grain spirit
  • Measuring and weighing equipment
  • Filtering equipment
  • Hydrometer and Alcometer
  • Aging Barrels (Optional)
  • Bottling and labeling equipment
  • Testing and Quality Control Instruments
  • Tasting and sensory analysis tools

How is Contemporary Gin Made?

The process of making Contemporary Gin involves several meticulous steps, combining traditional distillation methods with modern innovations and creative botanical blends. Here’s an overview of the typical steps involved in producing Contemporary Gin:

Selection of Botanicals

Distillers carefully choose a unique blend of botanicals, with juniper berries as the essential ingredient, complemented by a variety of other botanicals like citrus peels, herbs, spices, and floral elements.

Preparation of the Base Spirit

A neutral grain spirit, usually high in alcohol content and low in flavor, is prepared or purchased. This acts as a blank canvas for the gin’s flavor profile.

Maceration

The botanicals are soaked in the base spirit for a period (often 24–48 hours), allowing the flavors and oils to infuse into the spirit.

Distillation

The infused spirit (or the base spirit with a botanical basket, depending on the method) is heated in a still. As the liquid heats, alcohol and other volatile compounds vaporize. If a botanical basket is used, the vapors pass through the botanicals, capturing their flavors before condensing back into liquid form. The distiller controls the cut, separating the ‘heads’ (initial harsh spirits), the ‘hearts’ (the desired flavorful spirit), and the ‘tails’ (later, less desirable spirits).

Blending

The ‘heart’ cut is often blended with water to bring the gin to the desired strength. This is known as dilution.

Aging (optional)

While not traditional for most gins, some Contemporary Gins are aged in barrels to add further depth and character to the flavor. This step is not common but is becoming more popular among craft distillers.

Filtration

The gin is filtered to remove any impurities or residual particulates, ensuring a clean, clear spirit.

Bottling

Once the gin has reached the desired flavor profile and strength, it’s bottled. Some distilleries also pay a lot of attention to the design of the bottle and label, reflecting the unique character of the gin.

Tasting and Quality Control

Throughout the process, especially before bottling, the gin is tasted and tested to ensure it meets the distillery’s standards for quality and flavor.

Contemporary gin makers might put their unique spin on these steps, experimenting with different botanicals, distillation techniques, and aging processes to create distinctive gins. Despite these variations, the essence of gin production remains rooted in the careful balance and distillation of its botanical ingredients.

How is Contemporary Gin Different from others?

Contemporary Gin stands out from traditional gins primarily due to its innovative approach to flavors and production methods. Here’s how it differs from other types of gin:

Botanical Variety and Innovation

While traditional gins focus on juniper as the dominant flavor, contemporary gins experiment with a wide range of botanicals, introducing unique flavors from local or exotic herbs, spices, fruits, and flowers. This results in a more diverse and often unexpected flavor profile that goes beyond the classic piney and citrus notes of traditional gin.

Artisanal Production

Many Contemporary Gins are crafted in small batches by artisanal producers. This allows for greater creativity, attention to detail, and a hands-on approach in every step of the production process, from selecting botanicals to bottling.

Distillation Techniques

Contemporary Gin distillers often employ innovative distillation techniques, such as vacuum distillation or using different types of stills, to capture delicate botanical flavors that might be lost in traditional distillation methods.

Focus on Terroir

Similar to the wine industry, some Contemporary Gins emphasize the concept of terroir, using locally sourced botanicals to create a spirit that embodies the characteristics and flavors of its geographic origin.

Experimentation with Aging

While aging is not traditional for gin, some Contemporary Gins are aged in various types of barrels, adding complexity and depth to the flavor. This is a nod to the craft whisky industry and offers a new dimension to gin.

Presentation and Branding

Contemporary Gins often feature innovative and stylish branding and packaging, reflecting the modern and artisanal nature of the product. This is part of a broader trend in the craft spirits industry to stand out on crowded shelves and appeal to a demographic that values both taste and aesthetics.

Adaptability in Cocktails

The diverse flavor profiles of contemporary gins make them highly adaptable in cocktails. They can inspire new cocktail creations or offer a fresh twist on classic recipes, broadening the possibilities for mixologists and consumers alike.

In essence, contemporary gin is a reflection of modern tastes and the spirit of innovation. It respects the tradition of gin-making while pushing boundaries and embracing new ideas, resulting in a dynamic and ever-evolving category of spirits.

Types of Contemporary Gin

Contemporary Gin, with its embrace of innovation and diversity, has given rise to various types, each with its unique character and flavor profile. Here are some of the prominent types of Contemporary Gin that have gained popularity:

Botanical Gin

These gins place a strong emphasis on unique botanicals beyond the traditional juniper. Distillers experiment with local and exotic herbs, spices, flowers, and fruits to create distinctive, complex flavor profiles.

New Western (or American) Dry Gin

This type reinterprets the classic gin profile by toning down the juniper and highlighting other botanicals, resulting in a more balanced and sometimes floral or citrus-forward spirit. It’s particularly popular among American craft distillers.

Flavored Gin

Flavored gins are infused with additional flavors after the distillation process. Common flavors include fruits like raspberry, strawberry, or rhubarb, as well as other botanicals that are not traditionally used in gin. These gins are often more approachable for those new to gin or looking for something different.

Citrus or Fruit-Forward Gin

These gins are infused with a higher proportion of citrus peels or other fruits during the distillation process, giving them a prominently fresh, fruity, and zesty character, ideal for refreshing cocktails.

Spiced Gin

Spiced gins are rich in warming spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, or black pepper. They offer a more robust flavor, making them perfect for sipping neat or in spirit-forward cocktails.

Floral Gin

These gins showcase floral notes by incorporating botanicals like lavender, rose, chamomile, or elderflower, offering a delicate, aromatic, and sometimes sweet profile.

Herbal Gin

Herbal gins focus on green, earthy notes by using botanicals like rosemary, basil, thyme, or sage. They are savory and complex, often enjoyed in cocktails that complement their herbaceous qualities.

Barrel-Aged Gin

These gins are rested in barrels previously used for aging other spirits (like whiskey or wine), which imparts additional layers of flavor and a subtle amber hue. The aging process adds complexity and makes these gins suitable for sipping straight or spirit-forward cocktails.

Navy Strength Gin

While not exclusive to contemporary styles, some craft distillers produce this high-proof gin, typically around 57% alcohol by volume. It’s bold and intense, designed to stand out in cocktails even when diluted.

Organic and Sustainable Gin

Reflecting a growing interest in sustainability, these gins are made with organic botanicals and grains, and producers often emphasize eco-friendly practices in their production and packaging.

Experimental Gin

This category is for gins that push the boundaries of traditional gin-making, whether through innovative distillation techniques, unusual botanicals, or unconventional aging processes.

Buy Contemporary Gin Online

Sky Wave Gin

Distilled in Oxfordshire, Sky Wave offers an array of gins, including London Dry Gin, Old Tom, and flavored varieties. The brand is known for its use of 13 botanicals and natural mineral water from Blenheim Palace, offering a well-balanced and smooth gin with a sweet touch and a notable juniper presence​​.

Monkey 47

Originating from the Black Forest in Germany, Monkey 47 is known for its complex and rich flavor profile, featuring 47 different botanicals. It’s a premium gin that has received numerous awards and is celebrated for its unique blend of ingredients.

Monkey 47 – Schwarzwald Dry Gin



The Botanist

This artisanal gin comes from the Isle of Islay, Scotland. It’s known for its use of 22 local botanicals, hand-foraged from the island itself, providing a distinctive flavor that’s a true representation of its origin.

The Botanist – Islay Dry Gin



Gin Mare

Hailing from Spain, Gin Mare is noted for its Mediterranean influence, featuring botanicals like basil, thyme, rosemary, and olive. It offers a distinct, herbaceous flavor profile that sets it apart.

Gin Mare – Mediterranean Gin



Hendrick’s Neptunia Gin

This gin is a refreshing take with botanicals sourced from the Ayrshire coast. Hendrick’s Neptunia is celebrated for its high citrus notes, especially lemon and cucumber, making it a delightful choice for a straightforward G&T​​.

Hendrick’s Neptunia Gin



G’Vine Nouaison Gin

If you prefer your gin on the spicier side, G’Vine Nouaison is an excellent choice. This gin offers a sharp, fruit-filled taste with a rich and spicy aftertaste and is even available in a special edition matured in a cognac cask​​.

G’Vine Nouaison Gin



Roku

Produced by Beam-Suntory, Roku is a Japanese gin that stands out for its delicate, citrus-forward profile. The gin includes six native botanicals, such as sakura flower and yuzu peel, and is known for its distinctive hexagonal bottle​​.

Roku Japanese Gin



Bayab African Grown Classic Dry Gin

Representing the African continent, Bayab is distilled in South Africa and includes botanicals sourced from five different nations. Its unique ingredient is the sweet and citrusy baobab fruit, giving the gin a dry and well-balanced profile with a hint of citrus and peppery undertones​​.

Bayab African Grown Classic Dry Gin



Other brands you might like sipping are.

  • Hernö Old Tom Gin
  • Warner’s London Dry Gin
  • Silent Pool
  • Gin de Las Californias Citrico
  • Chemist American Gin
  • Linden Leaf Botanicals 88 Organic Molecular Gin
  • Mojave High Desert Dry Gin
  • Garnish Island Gin
  • Kapriol Lemon & Bergamot Gin
  • Rock Rose Gin
  • Hayman’s Exotic Citrus Gin
  • Gin Mare Capri
  • Isle of Harris Gin
  • Sipsmith London Dry Gin
  • St. George Spirits Terroir Gin
  • Tanqueray No. Ten

Recipe Variations

Contemporary Gin’s versatility and diverse flavor profiles make it an excellent base for a wide range of cocktails, from classic to creative. Here are a few delightful recipe variations that showcase the adaptability and flair of Contemporary Gin:

Elderflower Gin Fizz

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Contemporary Gin
  • 1 oz elderflower liqueur
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • Club soda

Method

Shake the gin, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice with ice. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with club soda and gently stir. Garnish with a lemon twist or a sprig of fresh herbs.

Gin and Tonic with a Twist

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Contemporary Gin
  • Tonic water
  • A selection of garnishes (such as cucumber slices, fresh berries, or a sprig of rosemary or basil)

Method: Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the gin and top with tonic water. Stir gently. Garnish with your choice of fresh garnishes to complement the botanicals in your gin.

Lavender Gin Sour

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Contemporary Gin
  • 1 oz lavender syrup
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • Egg white (optional for frothiness)

Method: Combine gin, lavender syrup, lemon juice, and egg white (if using) in a shaker. First, dry shake (without ice) vigorously. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a sprig of lavender or a lemon twist.

Gin Basil Smash

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Contemporary Gin
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Method: Muddle the basil leaves with simple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker. Add gin and fill the shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into an ice-filled rock glass. Garnish with a sprig of basil.

Blackberry Gin Martini

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Contemporary Gin
  • 1/2 oz blackberry liqueur
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • Fresh blackberries

Method: Muddle a few blackberries in a mixing glass. Add gin, blackberry liqueur, and dry vermouth with ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a skewer of fresh blackberries.

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