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All Spirits Gin London Dry Gin – Everything You Need To Know

London Dry Gin – Everything You Need To Know

London Dry is a type of gin that is characterized by its production process and flavor profile. Despite the name, London Dry Gin does not have to be produced in London. The term “London Dry” refers to the style and distillation process rather than the geographic location of its production. It is made through a specific method of distillation, and the base spirit is redistilled with natural botanicals. The flavors must be introduced only during this distillation process and not added afterward.

Beefeater London Dry Gin

London Dry Gin’s dominant flavor must come from juniper berries, which is a key characteristic of any gin. However, other botanicals like coriander, citrus peel, angelica, and others can also be used. The combination of botanicals gives each London Dry Gin its unique flavor profile. Due to its clean, crisp flavor with a strong juniper note, London Dry Gin is a popular choice for cocktails. It’s the gin of choice for classic cocktails like the Martini, Negroni, and the Gin and Tonic.

What Is London Dry Gin?

London Dry Gin is a type of gin characterized by a particular production process and flavor profile. It’s one of the most renowned and widely consumed styles of gin in the world. It must be made through a specific method of distillation. The base spirit, which is usually made from grain, is redistilled in a traditional still with natural botanicals. The flavors are imparted during this distillation process, and the botanicals are often placed in a basket in the still, allowing the alcohol vapors to pass through them, capturing the complex array of flavors.

The predominant flavor of London Dry Gin comes from juniper berries. By definition, gin must have a predominant juniper flavor, but London Dry Gin is well-known for its strong and clear juniper profile. Besides juniper, a variety of natural botanicals can be used to add flavor. Common choices include citrus peels, coriander seeds, angelica root, orris root, licorice, and cinnamon, among others. The choice of botanicals varies from one brand to another, leading to a wide range of flavor profiles within the London Dry category.

History of London Dry Gin 

The history of London Dry Gin is a fascinating journey that intertwines with the history of Britain and its capital, London. Its evolution is marked by social, economic, and legal factors that shaped its development into the refined spirit enjoyed globally today.

Early Origins and the Gin Craze

17th Century

The origins of gin are often traced back to the 17th century in Holland, where a spirit known as Jenever was used for medicinal purposes. British soldiers fighting in the Thirty Years’ War appreciated its calming effects before battle, coining the term “Dutch Courage.”

Early 18th Century

The drink gained popularity in England, especially after the Glorious Revolution brought William of Orange to the throne. Changes in land laws allowed for increased grain production, and deregulation of distillation led to a surge in gin production. The period known as the “Gin Craze” saw widespread consumption and social problems due to the poor quality and high strength of the gin consumed.

Regulation and Refinement

Mid-18th Century

The government, concerned with public morality and health, introduced a series of Gin Acts to regulate production and sales. These laws, along with a series of bad harvests leading to grain shortages, eventually quelled the Gin Craze.

19th Century

Technological advancements, like the invention of the Coffey still, allowed for more refined and consistent distillation. The quality of gin improved significantly, paving the way for the development of the London Dry style.

London Dry Gin Emergence:

Late 19th Century

The term “Dry Gin” began to be used to describe gins that weren’t sweet. London Dry Gin emerged as a distinct style characterized by its clean, juniper-forward flavor profile. Although named after London, the style does not have a geographical indication, meaning it can be produced anywhere as long as it adheres to specific production standards.

Global Expansion and Modern Era

19th and 20th Centuries

The British Empire facilitated the global spread of gin. The invention of the Gin & Tonic cocktail is attributed to British officers in India who mixed gin with tonic water, which contains quinine, to make the antimalarial more palatable.

Late 20th and 21st Centuries

After a period of declining popularity, gin experienced a resurgence in the late 20th century. The craft distillery movement and consumer interest in premium and artisanal spirits have led to a new gin renaissance, with London Dry Gin remaining a benchmark for quality and tradition in this diverse and evolving category.

Today, London Dry Gin is celebrated for its versatility in cocktails and its complex, refined flavor profile, with many distillers around the world producing their unique interpretations of this classic spirit.

Did You Know?

  • Gin, including London Dry, has its origins in medicine. It was first produced by a Dutch physician, Franciscus Sylvius, in the 17th century as a remedy for kidney disorders, lumbago, stomach ailments, gallstones, and gout.
  • True London Dry Gin cannot have any added sugar. This is one of the legal requirements that distinguish it from other gin types. The dryness in its name refers to the lack of sweetness, not the absence of moisture.
  • Despite the name, London Dry Gin doesn’t need to be produced in London or even in England. “London Dry” refers to the distillation process and style rather than the geographic location. This style of gin can be made anywhere in the world.
  • London Dry Gin was a staple in the British Royal Navy. The Navy required the gin to be high-proof (57% ABV) so that if it spilled on gunpowder, the powder would still ignite. This led to the term “Navy Strength Gin.”
  • The famous “Vesper Martini” from the James Bond series, “Shaken, not Stirred,” is made with gin, specifically London Dry Gin, along with vodka and Kina Lillet.
  • Unlike Scotch Whisky or Champagne, London Dry Gin doesn’t have a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). This means that as long as manufacturers adhere to the specific distillation and flavoring standards, they can label their product as London Dry Gin regardless of where it is made.

How Adaptable Is London Dry Gin?

London Dry Gin is highly adaptable both in terms of its production and its application in various culinary contexts, particularly in cocktails. This adaptability is part of what has cemented its status as a staple in bars and homes worldwide. Here’s a closer look at the adaptability of London Dry Gin:

Cocktail Versatility

London Dry Gin is renowned for its versatility in cocktails. Its balanced flavor profile, marked by a harmonious blend of botanicals with juniper at the forefront, makes it an excellent base for a wide range of cocktails, from the classic Gin & Tonic and Martini to more modern concoctions.

Gin & Tonic Variations

The quintessential Gin & Tonic can be tailored to personal tastes with the addition of various garnishes. Lime, lemon, cucumber, rosemary, or even peppercorns can be added to complement the gin’s botanicals.

Martini Customization

In a Martini, London Dry Gin can be combined with different vermouth ratios to suit individual preferences, ranging from dry (less vermouth) to wet (more vermouth). Garnishes like olives or a lemon twist offer additional flavor profiles.

Infusion and Experimentation

For those who like to experiment, London Dry Gin serves as a perfect base for infusions. Ingredients like fruits, herbs, and spices can be infused into the gin to create personalized, artisanal concoctions.

Seasonal Adaptability

Its refreshing nature makes London Dry Gin a favorite in summer cocktails. At the same time, the botanicals can also provide a warming, aromatic quality in winter drinks, such as a gin-infused hot toddy or mulled cider.

Pairing with Foods

The complex flavor profile of London Dry Gin, marked by its botanicals, makes it an interesting spirit to pair with food. It can complement seafood, cheese, or dishes with herbal and citrus notes.

Food Pairing

Beyond cocktails, London Dry Gin’s crisp, botanical flavor profile makes it suitable for pairing with a variety of foods. It complements seafood well and can be used in culinary recipes, either as an ingredient in marinades, sauces, or even in desserts.

Cultural Adaptation

London Dry Gin adapts culturally as well. It’s not just a spirit; it’s part of social rituals and gatherings, adapting to the cultural context in which it’s consumed, whether it’s in a sophisticated bar in London or at a beach party on a tropical island.

London Dry Gin Regulations

The production of London Dry Gin is governed by specific regulations that ensure its quality and authenticity. These regulations are not only about preserving traditional methods but also about maintaining a standard that defines what consumers can expect from a spirit labeled as London Dry Gin. Here are the key regulations:

Primary Flavoring: Juniper Dominance

The predominant flavor of London Dry Gin must come from juniper berries. This is a defining characteristic of all gins, but it is especially important in London Dry Gin.

Natural Ingredients

Only natural botanicals can be used to flavor the gin. These botanicals are typically added during the distillation process. Common botanicals include coriander, citrus peels, angelica root, and cardamom, among others.

Distillation Process

  • London Dry Gin must be distilled to a minimum of 70% alcohol by volume (ABV) after all botanicals are added. It is usually produced using a column still.
  • The flavoring of the gin must be achieved through distillation only. This means that the botanicals are added during the distillation process and not after it. This is a crucial aspect that differentiates London Dry Gin from other types of gin, where flavors can be added post-distillation.

No Added Substances Post-Distillation

Once distillation is complete, no substances other than water and a very small amount of sugar may be added. The sugar cannot exceed 0.1 grams per liter in the final product. This regulation ensures the ‘dry’ nature of the gin, as it contains no significant sweetness.

Alcohol Strength

London Dry Gin must be bottled at a minimum of 37.5% ABV in the European Union. This high alcohol content is necessary to carry and preserve the natural flavors of the botanicals.

Geographical Indication

Despite its name, there is no geographical restriction for producing London Dry Gin. It can be made anywhere as long as it adheres to the specific production methods and ingredients set out in the regulations.

Labeling and Presentation

The regulations also cover labeling and presentation. London Dry Gin must be transparent and free from any artificial coloring agents. The labeling should accurately represent the product and not be misleading in terms of its production process or origin.

What Are The Ingredients In London Dry Gin?

London Dry Gin is defined by its unique distillation process and the use of natural botanicals that give it its distinct flavor profile. The primary and mandatory ingredient in any gin, including London Dry Gin, is juniper berries. However, a variety of other botanicals are used to create each gin’s unique taste. Here’s a closer look at the typical ingredients found in London Dry Gin:

  • Juniper Berries: The defining ingredient of any gin. They impart the piney, resinous note that is synonymous with the spirit.
  • Coriander Seeds: These often add a lemony, slightly peppery flavor.
  • Angelica Root: It provides an earthy, musky note and is believed to help bind other flavors together.
  • Orris Root: Derived from the iris flower, it often acts as a fixative, helping stabilize and preserve other botanicals’ scent.
  • Lemon Peel: Adds a bright, zesty citrus note.
  • Bitter Orange Peel: Provides a complex citrus aroma with a slightly bitter edge.
  • Cardamom: Introduces spicy and slightly eucalyptus-like notes.
  • Cassia Bark or Cinnamon: Adds warmth and a spicy-sweet flavor.
  • Licorice: Imparts sweetness and depth, although the anise-like flavor of licorice is generally subtle in the final product.
  • Grains of Paradise: These peppery seeds introduce a warm, spicy flavor.
  • Cubeb Berries: Bring both peppery and slightly fruity notes.
  • Almonds: They can add a subtle nutty, and creamy texture.
  • Nutmeg: Introduces warm and spicy notes.
  • Rosemary: Gives a herbaceous touch.

What Are The Tools Used To Make London Dry Gin?

  • Pot stills and column stills
  • Botanical Basket
  • Condenser
  • Measuring and Weighing Equipment
  • Temperature Control Systems
  • Filtration Systems
  • Hydrometer or Alcoholmeter
  • Blending and Storage Tanks
  • Bottling Line
  • Tasting and Quality Control Tools

How Is London Dry Gin Made?

The production of London Dry Gin is a meticulous process that involves several key steps. The method combines the art of balancing flavors with precise distillation techniques to create its distinctive taste. Here’s an overview of how London Dry Gin is made:

Selection of Botanicals

The process begins with the selection of botanicals. Juniper berries are the essential ingredient, but other botanicals like coriander, citrus peels, angelica root, and various spices are also chosen. The specific combination and proportion of botanicals are often closely guarded secrets of the distillers.

Preparation of the Base Spirit

London Dry Gin is made from a neutral base spirit, typically grain-based. This spirit is essentially flavorless, serving as a blank canvas for the botanicals.

Maceration (Optional)

Some gin makers start by macerating the botanicals in the base spirit. This process involves soaking the botanicals in the spirit for a period (which can vary from a few hours to several days), allowing the flavors and oils to infuse into the alcohol.


  • The spirit and botanicals are then distilled. In a pot still, the macerated mixture is heated, causing the alcohol and flavor compounds to vaporize and rise through the still.
  • Alternatively, in a column still, the base spirit is passed through a series of plates or chambers containing the botanicals or through a botanical basket placed at the top of the still. This method, known as vapor infusion, allows the alcohol vapors to extract flavors from the botanicals as they pass through.

Collecting the Distillate

The vaporized alcohol and flavor compounds are cooled and condensed back into a liquid. The first and last parts of the distillate, known as the ‘heads’ and ‘tails’, are usually discarded as they contain undesirable flavors and compounds. The middle cut, or ‘heart’, is the portion that is kept for the final product.


The distilled gin is often quite strong and is typically diluted with water to bring it down to the desired strength. London Dry Gin must be bottled at a minimum of 37.5% alcohol by volume in the EU.

Filtering and Resting

The gin may be filtered to remove any impurities or sediment. Some distillers also allow the gin to rest for a period after distillation and before bottling. This resting period can help the flavors of the botanicals meld together more harmoniously.


Finally, the gin is bottled, labeled, and packaged for distribution.

The precise methods and the botanicals used can vary greatly between different brands and distillers, leading to a wide variety of flavor profiles under the umbrella of London Dry Gin. However, the fundamental process and the focus on juniper as the leading flavor are what define this iconic spirit.

How is London Dry Gin Different from Others?

London Dry Gin stands out from other types of gin due to specific characteristics related to its production method, flavor profile, and ingredients. Here’s a comparison to highlight these differences:

Production Method

London Dry Gin: The flavoring of the gin must occur during the distillation process. No artificial flavors or colors can be added after distillation, and only a very small amount of sugar is permitted.

Other Gins: Other types of gin might allow for the addition of flavors and sweeteners after distillation. For example, in compound gins, botanicals are often simply infused without redistillation.

Flavor Profile

London Dry Gin: Known for its clean, crisp profile with a strong juniper flavor. It’s also characterized by its dryness, meaning there’s no perceptible sweetness.

Other Gins: The flavor profiles can vary widely. Some gins might be more floral, fruity, or herbal, and they can have a noticeable sweetness depending on the type and production method.


London Dry Gin: While juniper is the predominant flavor in all gins, London Dry Gins often have a balanced botanical profile with none overpowering the others.

Other Gins: Contemporary or new-style gins might emphasize other botanicals over juniper, leading to a wider range of flavor profiles.

Geographical Indication

London Dry Gin: Despite its name, there’s no requirement for London Dry Gin to be produced in London or even in the UK. The term “London Dry” refers to the style and production method.

Other Gins: Some gins have geographical indications, like Plymouth Gin or Scottish Gin, which denote where they must be produced.


London Dry Gin: One of the strict rules for London Dry Gin is the minimal use of sugar post-distillation.

Other Gins: Old Tom Gin, for example, is a sweeter style of gin. The sweetness can come from added sugar or other sweetening agents post-distillation.

Alcohol Content

London Dry Gin: It must be distilled to a minimum of 70% ABV and then diluted to at least 37.5% ABV for the European market.

Other Gins: The required ABV can vary. Some craft gins may have higher or lower alcohol content based on the desired flavor profile and mouthfeel.

Labeling and Additives

London Dry Gin: Strict rules govern labeling, ensuring no misleading information regarding the production and content.

Other Gins: Labeling regulations can be less stringent, and there’s more flexibility regarding additives and flavorings.

Types of London Dry Gin

While London Dry Gin refers to a specific style of gin rather than a category with distinct types, there are various brands and expressions within this style, each offering its unique take on the classic London Dry flavor profile. These variations are often the result of different botanical recipes, distillation techniques, and the heritage of the distillery. Here are some notable examples and variations within the London Dry Gin style:

Classic London Dry Gins

Beefeater: Known for its traditional and balanced flavor, Beefeater is one of the quintessential London Dry gins, featuring a strong juniper presence complemented by citrus and herbal notes.

Tanqueray: Another classic, Tanqueray is celebrated for its crisp, dry taste with a strong juniper core and a blend of botanicals that includes coriander, licorice, and angelica root.

Premium and Artisanal London Dry Gins

Sipsmith: Sipsmith played a pivotal role in the modern craft gin movement. It’s known for its handcrafted production method and rich, complex flavor profile.

The Botanist: While not made in London, The Botanist fits the London Dry style. It’s unique for using foraged botanicals from the Isle of Islay, offering a distinctive, floral and herbaceous profile.

Heritage London Dry Gins

Gordon’s: One of the oldest gin brands, Gordon’s London Dry Gin is known for its classic profile with a strong juniper presence and a recipe that has remained largely unchanged since the 18th century.

Bombay Sapphire: While a relatively newer brand, Bombay Sapphire is renowned for its vapor infusion process and a slightly more floral profile, making it a modern twist on the traditional London Dry.

Contemporary London Dry Gins

Brockmans Gin: Brockmans, although a London Dry in production method, pushes the envelope in terms of flavor, offering a more pronounced berry and citrus profile.

Portobello Road: A relatively newer brand, it brings a classic yet bold juniper-forward flavor with hints of citrus and spice.

Geographically Unique London Dry Gins

Martin Miller’s Gin: Distilled in England but blended with Icelandic water, Martin Miller’s Gin offers a blend of traditional London Dry style with a clean, fresh finish.

Small Batch and Craft London Dry Gins: Many small distilleries produce London Dry Gin in small batches, focusing on unique botanicals or local ingredients, which often results in innovative and distinct flavor profiles while still adhering to the London Dry Gin standards.

Buy London Dry Gin Online

Many high-quality brands are producing excellent London Dry Gin. While “best” can be somewhat subjective depending on personal taste, here are a few that are widely recognized for their quality: 


One of the most iconic London Dry Gins, it’s been produced since the mid-1800s and is known for its crisp, clean flavor profile.

Beefeater London Dry Gin


Another well-respected and globally recognized brand, Tanqueray boasts a distinct profile with pronounced juniper notes.

Tanqueray London Dry Gin

Bombay Sapphire 

While it offers a lighter and more floral profile than some traditional London Dry Gins, it remains a popular choice for many gin aficionados.

Bombay Sapphire


As one of the world’s oldest and most popular gins, Gordon’s is known for its strong juniper profile and has been a staple in bars and homes for centuries.

Gordon’s London Dry Gin


A newer entrant relative to the brands above, Sipsmith played a significant role in the gin renaissance in London and offered a beautifully balanced gin.


Though not from London, this Irish gin offers a London Dry style with a unique twist, incorporating local botanicals.

Dingle Irish Gin


Another modern take on London Dry, Bulldog offers a more diverse botanical lineup that includes poppy and dragon eye, giving it a unique taste profile.

Bulldog London Dry Gin


This family-run operation maintains traditional methods in their production, offering a classic London Dry taste that’s been appreciated for generations.

Hayman’s London Dry Gin

Other brands you might like sipping are: 

  • The Botanist
  • City of London Distillery (COLD)
  • Bimber Distillery
  • Portobello Road 
  • Jensen’s 
  • Boodles 
  • Plymouth Gin 
  • Fords Gin
  • Dodd’s Gin 
  • Sacred Gin
  • Berkeley Square
  • Geranium Gin
  • Opihr
  • No.3 London Dry Gin

Recipe Variation

London Dry Gin is known for its versatile nature and works wonderfully in various cocktails. Here are a few classic cocktail recipes and variations featuring London Dry Gin:

Gin and Tonic


  • 2 oz London Dry Gin
  • 4-5 oz tonic water
  • Lime or lemon wedge


Fill a glass with ice cubes. Add gin and top with tonic water. Stir gently and garnish with a lime or lemon wedge.



  • 1 oz London Dry Gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • An orange peel for garnish.


In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine gin, Campari, and vermouth. Stir well and strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange peel.



  • 2 oz London Dry Gin
  • 1 oz lime juice (fresh)
  • ¾ oz simple syrup
  • A lime wheel for garnish


Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add gin, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Tom Collins


  • 2 oz London Dry Gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice (fresh)
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • soda water
  • A lemon wedge and cherry for garnish.


Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top up with soda water. Garnish with a lemon wedge and cherry.

Each of these cocktails highlights the unique characteristics of London Dry Gin while offering a twist to cater to various tastes. Whether you stick to the classics or venture out with the variations, you’re in for a treat! Always remember to enjoy it responsibly. Cheers!



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